Prairie reunion: Scottish clan reunited with Métis descendants
Visitors study the genealogical chart at Grant's Old Mill. Photo: Phil Koch
Sir James Grant, Lord Strathspey, chief of the Clan Grant of Scotland, was in Canada this July to participate in Cuthbert Grant Day celebrations and to formally reunite his clan with long-separated Canadian branches of the family.
The Grants avoided the fates suffered by other Scots during the Highland clearances, but Cuthbert Grant was one of many who came to Canada late in the eighteenth century to engage in the fur trade. Cuthbert Grant Jr., born to a Métis mother in what is now Saskatchewan, worked for both the North West Company and then the Hudson’s Bay Company. Sent to Scotland for education, he returned to the prairies, became a leader of the Métis people, and founded Grantown (now St. François Xavier, Manitoba). A replica of his flour mill has been constructed along Sturgeon Creek in west Winnipeg and is the site of annual Cuthbert Grant Day festivities.
On July 14, this year’s Cuthbert Grant Day, Lord Strathspey and his wife Judy arrived at Grant’s Old Mill aboard a traditional Red River cart with an escort of Scottish pipers. They had been invited by Sandra Horyski of the St. James Assiniboia Pioneer Association, herself a descendant of Cuthbert Grant Sr. When Lord Strathspey delivered the papers that proclaimed Siol Cudbright, comprised of Cuthbert Grant’s descendants, an official sept (or branch) of Clan Grant, Horyski was named its first steward.
Visitors came from as far away as Scotland as well as from Yukon and Montana, where Grant descendants settled, to take part in events arranged for Lord Strathspey’s time in Canada. Anita Grant Steele arrived with other descendants of William Grant of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, who was one of the originators of the North West Company and the senior partner of Grant, Campion and Company.
Steele organized a reunion tea with Lord Strathspey at Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Hotel and was named the first steward of the branch now known as the MacRobbie Grants of Trois-Rivières. The reunion included Donald Grant, Emerald Grant and Roy Grant, who were responsible for the Y-DNA test results that positively determined the MacRobbie Grants of Trois-Rivières are from the same genetic line as the chiefs of Grant.