History of Fort Steele
The origin of Fort Steele can be traced to the small settlement of Galbraith’s Ferry, which was born during the 1864 Kootenay gold rush. In 1888 the settlement’s name was changed to Fort Steele to honour Superintendent Samuel Steele of the North West Mounted Police, who peacefully settled tensions between white settlers and the Ktunaxa people. Major mineral discoveries in the East Kootenay brought a new boom in 1897. Fort Steele became the commercial, social and administrative centre of the region while property values soared. However, in 1898, when the B.C. Southern Railway bypassed Fort Steele in favour of Cranbrook, the boom sputtered to a halt and the town soon declined into obscurity.
The Province of British Columbia acquired the site in 1961, and later began the good work of preserving and reconstructing the historic town. Today, the Province of BC, along with the Friends of Fort Steele Society, continue this good work preserving and presenting an important part of Canada’s pioneering history.
History buffs may take interest in the following chronological depiction of BC/Fort Steele historical highlights