New clan chief swaps his Arizona cactus garden for Culloden this summer

From the deserts of Arizona, a new clan chief is due to arrive in the Highlands this summer.

Richard McBain, 65, a digital printer from Tuscon, has become the 23rd hereditary chief of Clan MacBean following the death of his father, James McBain of McBain, in March this year.

He has travelled to Scotland on clan duties since he was a child and will arrive in August for his inauguration.

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The ceremony will be held at McBain Memorial Park near Dores by Loch Ness, which was created by his grandfather, with a wreath laying ceremony at Culloden to follow the next day.

Mr McBain, on swapping hot August days in Arizona for a Highland summer, said: “When you live in the desert and it rains you run outside and do a little dance. I don't mind the Scottish weather at all. I find it interesting. The Inverness area is about as different as you get from Arizona. You have all the green.”

Mr McBain said he did not want the clan to be “trapped in history”, with part of his inauguration weekend to include a dedication to the late clan member and astronaut Captain Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the Moon and who took a piece of tartan on his voyage. It is hoped representatives of the UK Space Agency will attend.

The chief, speaking from Arizona, said a priority was to connect with members in Scotland, with the clan membership becoming concentrated and celebrated in the US after key figures emigrated after Culloden.

He added: "Probably my biggest thing is there is a whole bunch of McBains on your side of the pond who have sort of been forgotten about since their families moved to the US hundreds of years ago.

Richard McBain of McBain, 23rd Chief of the Clan MacBean, with his partner Lisa MacFarlane and their dog, Rex, surrounded by the saguaro cacti which surround his home in Arizona.

“I want to go back and meet these people and find out all about them, what they do, where they live and see what their interests are. I want to see how we all fit together.”

The clan chiefs, who lost their land at Kinchyle following Culloden, ended up in the United States after the new chief’s forefather, William MacBean, emigrated around 1809 to Glengarry County in Ontario with the family line relocating to North America over time.

The new chief’s grandfather, Hughston McBain, was born in Michigan in 1902.

Despite the passage of distance and time, Mr McBain said there was an unspoken connection between clan members.

He said: “It’s so odd the way you feel it, you feel it in the humour, the way people look at things.

“There is a connection. You might not have a direct family link but there is a shared family and history. You feel like you know people right away. It’s almost mystical.

“You know it is real because it is not something that you were looking for.”

Mr McBain’s inauguration will be held at the original clan memorial in McBain Memorial Park, with clans members from across the UK and the US to attend, along with the Lord Lyon of Scotland.

He will stand beside the Commander of Clan MacGillivray at a wreath laying at Culloden the next day. Both clans lost their chiefs after leading Lady Anne Mackintosh’s Regiment, which was the first to charge, on the field. The fallen men were cousins.