Samuel Benfield Steele
1848 – 1919
Scarlet Rider of the Frontier
Sam Steele was born at Purbrook, Ontario in 1848, and joined the Canadian militia at the age of 16. In 1873 he was the third person to join the newly created North West Mounted Police and participated in the Great March West from Manitoba to Alberta.
In the 1880s, Steele was placed in charge of policing the entire length of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1885 he was promoted to Superintendent of the NWMP and led a group of officers, known as Steele’s Scouts, to participate in the North West Rebellion. In 1887 he was sent to the Kootenay Region, where he established Fort Steele, the first NWMP post west of the Rocky Mountains.
In 1888 he was given command of Fort Macleod. While posted at Fort Macleod, Sam Steele married Marie Elizabeth Harwood, the eldest daughter of Robert Harwood, MP, at Vaudreuil, Quebec in 1890. Home would be Fort Macleod until Steele was posted in 1898 to Dawson City during the Yukon Gold Rush. Three children were born to the couple: Flora, Gertrude and Harwood. All were born at Macleod.
While in the Yukon, Steele was in charge of all NWMP posts and establishing law and public works, such as water, drainage, garbage and fire fighting, and mail services for the city of Dawson.
In 1899 he volunteered to join the Boer War in South Africa, leading the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), a cavalry regiment. He returned to Canada in 1906 where he commanded and trained military units in Calgary and Winnipeg.
In 1915, at the age of 67, he volunteered to join the Great War, and was sent to England to command and train all Canadian troops. Colonel Steele was knighted by King George V in 1918. He died in 1919 and lies buried in Winnipeg.