Rarely considered as an author, Colonel Sam Steele is usually remembered as the first North West Mounted Police commander in British Columbia and the man after whom historic Fort Steele is named.

Born in Purbrook, Ontario near Orillia on January 5, 1849, Steele was a militarist from a young age. As a teenager in Royal Military School, he helped repell a Fenian raid from the United States in 1866, then went west to counteract the Red River Rebellion. When the North West Mounted Police was formed in 1873, he enlisted and remained in the force for 30 years. He led several skirmishes against Aboriginals in the Prairies and patrolled CPR construction camps near Golden in 1884-1885. After neutralizing Kutenai warriors in July of 1887, he built a small fort at the confluence of the Kootenay River and Wild Horse Creek. This became Fort Steele, now preserved as a heritage site for tourists. Steele and his men left B.C. in August of 1888. He later served in the White and Chilkoot Passes during the Klondike goldrush. After serving in the Boer War as a commander of Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadian), Sam Steele led the second contingent of the Canadian soldiers to go overseas for World War II. He published his memoirs as Sir Samuel Benfield Steele in 1915 and died in London, England on January 30, 1919.


Steele, Samuel B. Forty Years in Canada: Reminiscences of the Great Northwest with Some Account of his Service in South Africa (Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1915; McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1972; Toronto: Coles, 1973). 428 p. Edited by Millie Glen Niblett with an introduction by J.G. Colmer.


S. Garrod. Sam Steele (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1979); R.C. Macleod, "Samuel Benfield Steele", Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. XIV (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966-), pp. 967-972; S.B. Steele. Forty Years in Canada (London: Herbert Jenkins Ltd., 1915); Robert Stewart. Sam Steele: Lion of the Frontier (Toronto: Doubleday and Company, 1979).

[BCBW 2005] "1900-1950" "War" "Law"