It's not your average family reunion – thousands of descendants of the Steeves family are expected to be in New Brunswick this summer to commemorate their family's arrival in the province 250 years ago.
Steeves 250 will take place July 22 to 29 in Hillsborough and Moncton, and organizers say roughly 9,000 descendants from across the globe – including Rome, Paris, Chicago and California – are expected.
"It's a way of bringing people back home and honouring our heritage," event chairman Gary Steeves said in a phone interview on Sunday from Kent, Wash.
Heinrich and Regina Steeves of Germany and their seven sons came to New Brunswick from Philadelphia in 1766 and helped build communities in areas that were left vacant after the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755.
Their seven sons ended up fathering 71 children – planting the seeds for what is now thought to be up to 300,000 descendants of the Steeves family.
"Those seven sons were rather prolific, so there were a lot of births," said Mr. Steeves with a laugh. "After a few generations, all the land was already all taken up, so they began to move, first into the United States and then all the way across to Vancouver."
Descendants of the Steeves family played roles in Canada's early history.
One of the fathers of Confederation was William Henry Steeves, born in Hillsborough in 1814, said Gary Steeves.
He said one of the first Caucasian settlers of British Columbia's Lulu Island – just south of Vancouver – was Manoah Steeves, whose linage founded the coastal town of Steveston in 1880.
Gary Steeves said when he was a child, he didn't know anything about his heritage. He said he started researching his family tree and found a book about the seven sons and their offspring.
"There my name was in the book. I couldn't believe it," said Mr. Steeves, who has visited New Brunswick to see where Heinrich and Regina Steeves settled and has also travelled to their hometown in Germany.
"Having that connection of knowing where you're coming from – your whole family line – the values, the beliefs and the story of what they've all come through over the generations, it really adds a lot of energy and vision to one's life."
The story of Heinrich and Regina Steeves will be told during the reunion, which will also feature live entertainment and activities over the week-long event.
On July 23, organizers hope to set a world record at the Moncton Coliseum for the largest gathering of individuals with the same last name.
The current record is held by the Gallagher Clan of Ireland – where 1,488 members of that family gathered in 2007.