FOUR cities, three countries, two continents and one man at the centre of it all.
The park at Grant's Old Mill in St. James cracked open like a history book Saturday as a throng of hundreds braved the heat to celebrate 18th century Métis leader Cuthbert Grant.
Grant descendants as far away as Montana and the Yukon found themselves in Winnipeg for the first time as Sir James Grant of Scotland, known as Lord Strathspey, marked his official visit to the city.
Strathspey will declare Cuthbert a clan member today, making his descendants an official sept (branch) of the Grant clan.
"I think it's neat we're able to come together, meet one another and make some new friends," said Emerald Grant, who travelled more than 1,000 kilometres from Browning, Mont., to attend the event.
"A lot of the people here are my relatives, but if I would have walked in front of them in Wal-Mart, I wouldn't know who they are until today."
The Grant clan dates back 1,000 years, with bloodstock from the Vikings. There are about half a million Grants worldwide and 142 clan chiefs in Scotland, Strathspey said.
"I wanted to make the ties between ourselves at home in Scotland and here," said Strathspey, who was carried into the park on a Red River Cart.
"I feel it's important to reconnect with people from all over the world. There are not many clan chiefs that are doing this."
On Saturday, guides in historical costume led visitors on tours of the mill and re-enacted scenes from the fur trade by Sturgeon Creek. Manitoba Historical Society members spun wool, while volunteers grilled hot dogs, and the Norman Chief Métis dancers mesmerized the crowd with the rhythmic stomps of a Red River jig.
"It's a uniting of the old and new world and the sharing of information," said Sandra Horyski, a Grant descendant and organizer with the St. James-Assiniboia Pioneer Association, which operates the mill and invited Strathspey to Winnipeg.
"It's recognition we're part of a whole and linking together people culturally."
Grant played a pivotal role in the development of the Red River Colony.
As a Métis captain, he led the North West Company forces at the massacre at Seven Oaks in 1816. In 1828, the Hudson's Bay Co. named him Warden of the Plains, tasking him to marshal the Métis in defence of the Red River Settlement.
Grant later became councillor, sheriff and magistrate of the District of Assiniboia, and is considered one of the founding fathers of St. Francois Xavier.
Aside from inheriting the Grant clan nose, Cuthbert embodied the smart, hardworking and determined grit that runs through the clan's blood, which filtered down to his company, Strathspey said.
"They were strong, they knew how to deal with horses, they knew how to drink, and they knew how to rally the troops," he laughed.
The celebrations continue today and conclude with a banquet on Monday, where Mayor Sam Katz will present Strathspey with a key to the city.
For more information, visit www.cuthbertgrant.ca .