Fonds PR0083 - Steele family fonds

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Steele family fonds

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    Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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    • 1852-1979 (Creation)

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    Physical description

    0.28 m of textual records

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    Biographical history

    Captain Elme Steele and his second wife Anne had six children at Purbrook Estate, Fair Valley, Township of Medonte, County of Simcoe, Ontario. Both Elme and Anne Steele passed on while their children were quite young; Anne in 1859 and Elme shortly after in 1865. The four brothers Sam, James, Dick and Godfrey and one sister Edith were left in the care of their half-brother John and his wife.

    Probably the best known character of the Steele family, Sir Samuel Benfield Steele, was born on January 5, 1849. He joined the militia in 1866 during the Fenian troubles and was a private in the Red River Expedition of 1870. He joined the Permanent Force Artillery in 1871 and, in 1873, became a sergeant major in the newly created NWMP. He achieved commissioned rank in 1878, and his first command was at Ft Qu'Appelle (Saskatchewan) in 1879, where he was in charge of police detachments supervising the building of the CPR. In 1885 he was promoted to superintendent and in 1898 established Canadian government authority during the Klondike Gold Rush. Steele was given command of Lord Strathcona's Horse in the South African War, and in 1915 he commanded the second Canadian contingent to be sent overseas in World War I. In 1916 he was appointed general officer commanding the Shorncliffe area in England, a post he held until the end of the war and his retirement in 1918. He died at London, England on January 30, 1919.

    Brothers Dick and Godfrey Steele also felt the lure of western expansion and went west to join the North West Mounted Police at the urging of Samuel. After serving for a number of years both brothers settled at Beaver Lake. It was at Beaver Lake that James Steele, the youngest brother, arrived in the North West Territories in 1883. James homesteaded, taught at a variety of schools in the Beaver Lake Dictrict and actively participated in the Riel Rebellion, serving garrison duty at Fort Saskatchewan. James Steele was also a newspaper contributor, providing historical accounts, news items and short stories to papers in Orillia and Edmonton.

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    Scope and content

    The fonds consists of records created by various members of the Steele family located both in England and in Canada over a period of 150 years. The fonds contains diaries, correspondence, some photographs, and writings about, and by, family members.

    The collection contains various documents concerning police activity in the MacLeod areas, including a letter to Major S.B. Steele regarding his departure signed by the citizens of Lethbridge, an earlier letter instructing the set up of a RCMP location near Calgary, and references to the murder trial of Charcoal, an Indigenous man of the Kainai Nation.

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    Physical condition

    Immediate source of acquisition

    Some of this material was donated to the Provincial Archives of Alberta by a variety of Steele family members: Mrs. Elsie Duncan; Mrs. Gladys K. Jenkins; Inspector J.A. McCullough of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Mrs. Rene Duncan; and, Mrs. Joan Ray. The most significant portion of the material was purchased from Mrs. Gladys K. Jenkins in 1985.


    Arrangement note: Due to the small volume of records in this fonds no external arrangement has been imposed though original order at the file level has been adhered to.

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        Access Conditions: None

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        Use Conditions: Permission for use required.

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        File list is available.

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        Further accruals are not expected.

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        Includes the following accessions:


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