by Lorain Lounsberry, Senior Curator, Cultural History
Sir Sam Steele would have been pleased with the reception given in his honour at Canada House, London, England - pageantry, royalty, grand surroundings, all under a media spotlight. The June 19th festivities, organized by Glenbow Museum’s partner in the acquisition, the University of Alberta Library, celebrated the repatriation of Sam Steele’s personal papers and military artifacts to Alberta.
Steele, Canada’s most famous ‘Mountie’, was a major player in the nation’s military and policing actions from 1870 to 1918. From southern Alberta to British Columbia and the Yukon, Steele dealt justice to whiskey traders, rioting railway workers, gold miners and con men. He led the Steele Scouts (named in his honour) during Louis Riel’s 1885 North-West Resistance. When Britain declared war in South Africa, Steele commanded the newly founded Lord Strathcona Horse and helped build their legend. King George V awarded Steele the Order of St. Michael & St. George in 1918, honouring Steele’s life-time of military achievements.
The archival material in the collection is now at the University of Alberta Library. Over 60 artifacts, ranging from uniforms, a dress sword and bicorn hat and Steele’s spectacular grouping of medals and orders, are coming to Glenbow and will be exhibited in the upcoming year. Glenbow is honoured to be the new home for these important and impressive military artifacts once owned by a true Canadian hero, Sir Sam Steele.