Posted on Oct 20, 2017
2017-09-18 Rotary Buzz - Evening  Meeting
Canada 150 Speaker Series
Speaker - Max Foran & Fiona Foran on Grant MacEwan - Camrose Resort and Casino
Dawn opened the meeting at 6:00 pm.
Health of the Club -  good.
  • Executive Board Meeting 5:15 pm at Board Room At Casino.
  • Rotary Cares Raffle tickets available.  Please see Ted to drop off money and to pick up tickets.
Grant MacEwan - Speakers Max Foran and Fiona Foran
We all know who Grant MacEwan was.  If you don't, there are numerous articles and three biographies on this man.  There is a long list for Grant MacEwan  He grew up as a farmer in Brandon, Manitoba was a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan, and became Dean of Agriculture at the University of Manitoba.  He was the 28th Mayor of Calgary, the 19th Lt. Governor General of Alberta, has two Universities named after him and a subdivision in Calgary that bears his name.  Grant has half a dozen honorary Doctorates in Canadian Universities, Scholarships that take his name and awarded the Order of Canada and Alberta Premier's Award of Excellence.
These accomplishments are what we know.  Max Foran, Grant's son-in-law, didn't want to speak on this.  It would be redundant.  Instead, Max wanted to focus on aspects of Grant MacEwan that haven't been previously made public.  He narrowed it down to four key points that he says, "contributed summarily to his enduring legacy in Western Canada."
Max Foran, Son-in-Law, and Fiona Foran, granddaughter, of Grant Mac Ewan
Grant MacEwan was known for his simplicity.  Although he was a simple man, he was also complicated.  As Max refers to it, "a simple man of paradox."    Grant respected the institutional voice, the authority and the messages they gave.  Thrift, duty, and purpose drove him,  yet had an independent spirit.  Max has observed that people who respect authority and institutions weren't usually independent free thinkers as Grant was.  In Grant, it manifested itself in lighter, gentler ways that reflected who he was.  
An example of this is that he disdained the trappings of wealth and privilege.  Grant was not the best-dressed individual in the world and boasted about it, which in Max's mind, was a point of legend.  He could laugh at himself because he knew exactly how he dressed.
Max recounts several stories of situations of which Grant's attire came into question.  One is his travel to Seattle with two Mounted Police in full dress escorting him on the plane. Grant overhead two ladies were discussing how resplendent the Mounties were and that he, Grant, must be a criminal, either a rapist or murderer.  Going through security at the airport, Grant had the mounties grasp each arm and walk him through as if he were a criminal. 
Another is his time as Mayor of Calgary walking to City hall in the early morning.  Two police officers stopped him and questioned what he was doing and where he was going.  Grant answered their questions while trying to avoid telling the police who he was.  Upon shining a flashlight on his face, did they realize he was the Mayor.  The Police promptly offered escort, and Grant refused them and continued walking.
Grant MacEwan was a Professional agricultural Academic with an international reputation experimenting in crossbreeding.  He was also an expert judge of livestock.  He judged at exhibitions all over Western Canada.  His favorite was cattle, but even more than that was horses, heavy horses in particular.  Because of his expertise in judging and livestock, he got to know the farming and ranching communities across Western Canada.
Grant got to know these communities as no one else had because he knew them at a grassroots level.  His identified hamlets and villages by the ranch or farm that was around them and what they bred.  His memory was phenomenal.  Max maintains it is his expertise as a judge that cemented his reputation and these communities thought of Grant as one of their own.
Grant's granddaughter, Fiona, shares the story of when she took her Grant to the Stampede when he was 90 years old.  She was charged by her mother "Don't let your grandfather get into trouble."  Fiona and Grant toured the barns, and when they got to the large horse barn, a gentleman stopped him and asked Grant if he would like to see his team of Percherons out back that was training.  Grant saw a six-horse team hitched to a wagon.  The gentleman's brother asked grant if he would like to drive the team and his face lit up "like a light bulb."  
Fiona, at this time, was dying inside thinking this was going to end badly as her grandfather was a frail 90-year-old using walkers and canes to get around and thought her mother was going to disown her.  She was stricken when her grandfather jumped at the chance, and the two brothers had to help Grant get into the wagon.  
Grant showed his dexterity, strength, and expertise as he led the team out to the ring and did figure eights and led the horses through their paces.  Upon his return, Grant was beaming and told Fiona that it was wonderful and he never thought he would have that experience again.  Fiona tells us, Grant never forgot that and years after he still brought it up as being one of the best days for him. 
Grant hated history.  It was a chronology of who did what and who died when.  He became conscious of the great reputation, and romance the American West had and the distinct lackluster Canada had.  The richness of his pioneering experience with his father and his growing respect for the heroes of the past with untold stories led Grant into writing.  He recaptured the stories of ordinary folk that wouldn't  be recognized otherwise.  
Grant told the saga, the heroism of the fur trade settlement, the agricultural frontier and the ranching frontier of Western Canada.  He did more to educate Western Canadians on their history and heritage than any Academic Historian has ever done.  He instilled a sense of pride and a sense of identification.  
Grant was also a religious man.  He followed the teachings of his mother's  church up until her death in 1944.  In 1983, he told Max, "I have obediently followed the practices of my mother's Christian teachings.  And though there's not a better mother in the world, I was not meant to stay within that line of thinking."  It was then he switched his messages of organized religion and sought his maker in a version of Pantheism.  His Maker became Nature.  He believed he could serve his Maker by becoming a good steward of his household.
Max believes this started Grant's transformation and it shifted from a Western Canadian of considerable influence to a national icon conservationist.  In 1960 he became a vegetarian.  His specialty in the Universities was meats, animal husbandry.  He turned 180 degrees and lived frugally and lived by example.  He became a passionate crusader for water conservation, and in so doing, he tried to exhort fellow Canadians to also become stewards of the land, its resources, and life forms.  He wanted to preserve and conserve.
Grant wanted a new vision, and he produced a publication with popular and scientific thinking.  In the book,  Grant says things that are bearing fruit today.  Issues concerning climate change, deforestation, and toxins.  He also believed you had to scarifice if you were going to be at one with the land.
For over 40 years, Max has been a spectator to Grant's immense resilience, an incredible capacity for task completion and stratospheric threshold for pain.  There are very few people who could ever keep up with Grant, to his mind.  
Grant MacEwan was a man with a profound message and physical stamina, measured strength and personal charisma.  He carried it through to society's grassroots and in so doing, planted a new imagery of the land.  He planted through time, through place and across generations.  Max believes, "It will be a long, long time that anyone of his caliber emerges in Western Canada."
7 Books on Grant MacEwan were raffled off.  Two titles:  Everyone's Grandfather-The Life and Times of Grant MacEwan, and Grant MacEwan-No Ordinary Man.
50/50 -  Dawn Anderson won $57.
Meeting adjourned at 8:15 pm.
Next meeting - Noon Meeting, October 23, 2017, 
Speaker - TBA 
Camrose Resort & Casino