Plan of Fort Steele (1939) Plan of Fort Steele, East Kootenay, BC (1939)
The town of Fort Steele, BC was named after North-West Mounted Police Superintendant Sam Steele.
Fort Steele was a gold rush boom town founded in 1864 by John Galbraith. The town was originally called "Galbraith's Ferry", named after the ferry set up by the city's founder over the Kootenay River. It was the only ferry within several hundred miles so Mr.Galbraith charged very high prices to get across. The town was renamed Fort Steele in 1888, after legendary Canadian lawman Superintendent Sam Steele of the North-West Mounted Police solved a dispute between a settler who had unjustly accused one of the local First Nations men with murder. This dispute had caused a great deal of tension between the town and the native people. Sam Steele, finding no real evidence against the accused natives, had the charges against them lifted. Both the town and the First Nations people were so grateful that they renamed the town Fort Steele. Much to Steele's dismay, the "Fort" part of the name comes from the NWMP setting up a station in the town, whereas the town itself was never a real fort.