Steeves family plans ‘largest family gathering in the world’ to break Guinness record

A well known New Brunswick family that has spread out around the country is trying to make it big in the record books.

The 250th Steeves family reunion is set to take place next July in the small town of Hillsborough.

Organizer Kerry Rakuson says it’s likely to be the largest family gathering in the world.

“We are going to break a Guinness Book of World record, we are pretty confident about that,” she said.

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She says they hope to break the record for having the most people with the same last name gathered together in one place.

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That record now sits at just over 1,400 people and is held by the Gallagher family.

The former mayor of Hillsborough, Vaughn Snider says considering how many Steeves descended on this tiny town for the last reunion in 1966, they’re likely to shatter the record.

“Our estimates have been stated as being up to 9000 people here for that weekend,” he said.

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Historic reunion on historic ground

Next July, organizers are expecting as many as 10,000 family members to attend the 250th family reunion. Historian Paul Kyle says the reunion will take place near where the original German “Stieff” family traveled up the Bay of Fundy.

“The emblem of the flag shows the ship they arrived on in 1766 in Halls Creek and the mast of the ship stands for the 7 sons who arrived at that time,” said Kyle.

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Some of the descendants of those seven brothers went on to become a big part of our Canadian history.

“William Henry, along with being a father of confederation, was one of the first senators of Canada.”

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His sister, Matha Steeves, the great-great-grandmother of former NDP party leader Jack Layton, was was born and brought up here as well.

“The genealogy for the Stieff or Steeves family extends to over 300,000 people and they are spread worldwide,” said Rakuson.

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“If you are a Steeves with two e’s in your name chances are you are in the tree. If you are Steves with one e in your name chances are you are in the tree.  The Steveston in Vancouver is connect to the Steeves from New Brunswick.  There was an ancestor who went out there and settled and they created Steveston.”

If you live here in the Maritimes, chances are high you have at least a little Steeves blood in your veins, which is a license to join in on what’s just might be the biggest kitchen party the Maritimes has ever seen.

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