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This article was published 3/9/2012 (3305 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
More than 20,000 Winnipeggers invaded The Forks this weekend clad in various hues of tartan in celebration of a formative cornerstone of Manitoban history.
It's been 200 years since Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of Selkirk, arrived from Scotland with the first wave of settlers on what is now the shores of the Red River. To commemorate the bicentenary, the third annual Barge Festival hosted a weekend-long ode to the Red River gathering.
Sunday brought the return of the Selkirk family to the former settlement, with one of Lord Selkirk's descendents making the trek to Winnipeg to commemorate the bicentenary.
James Alexander Douglas Hamilton, the 11th Earl of Selkirk, addressed the crowd at Sunday's closing day celebrations. In 1812 his ancestor, Douglas Hamilton, the fifth Earl of Selkirk, led the settlers to their new home -- a portion of the land along the Red River where The Forks now sits.
"We in Scotland are enormously proud of these trailblazers. When they came to Red River, they suffered many intense hardships. During those extremely harsh winters, there was a desperate struggle for survival. It is because of the sacrifice, courage and heroism of those first settlers and others who arrived later that we are standing here today in one of the greatest cities in Canada, or for that matter, North America," Hamilton said during a ceremony at The Forks Sunday.
"I'm delighted that you are staging such a socially inclusive event at The Forks to celebrate the Selkirk bicentenary. It is entirely appropriate that it is being supported by the First Nation communities, by the Métis and by the Franco-Manitoban community as well as by the Scottish community."
Hamilton made his speech surrounded by historical re-enactors and scores of pipers including members of the Lord Selkirk Boys Pipe Band and the Winnipeg Police Pipe Band. Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh also spoke, welcoming Hamilton to Winnipeg.
The current Lord Selkirk assumed his title in 1994 but gave it up almost immediately, choosing to maintain his work as a Conservative MP in Edinburgh. He's since been given a new title, the Lord Selkirk of Douglas.
Following the speeches, the annual Selkirk Settlers Parade commenced in a flurry of tartan and bagpipes. Paraders marched through The Forks marketplace and down to the Scotiabank Stage. A few rounds of traditional Scottish heavy games followed, including the caber toss.
Sunday's events finished off a festive weekend. On Friday, 5,000 folks packed in to hear the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra concert atop a barge, with Scottish-Canadian crooner John McDermott joining the symphony for a three-song set.
Saturday brought out about 4,000 people, said Clare MacKay, vice-president of marketing and communications for The Forks-North Portage Partnership, which partnered with Manitoba Lotteries to honour the Scottish-Canadian group.