Fort Steele, during the 1864 Kootenay gold rush was called Galbraith’s Ferry, but twenty-four years later it was renamed in honor of Sam Steele of the Northwest Mounted Police, who had become a hero by peacefully settling tensions between white settlers and the local Ktunaxa people.
Once a thriving mining town, Fort Steele became almost a ghost town after the BC Southern Railway bypassed the town in favor of Cranbrook. Today it is a heritage town, preserved as a reminder of how the west was settled. Located an easy 16 km (10 miles) northeast of Cranbrook on Highway 93/95, the town draws thousands of visitors annually, eager to travel back in time to the late 1800’s and experience a taste of life in those days long gone.
What’s to see and do
In the summer months Fort Steele comes alive. Musical comedy and variety shows in the Wild Horse Theatre, tours around the town in a horse-drawn wagon, and rides on a steam train with its 90+-year-old engine, are favorite attractions. You can watch a blacksmith at work in the forge or pan for gold! In H. Kershaw & Son General Store, find replicas of everything you would have needed to buy if you lived back then. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the City Bakery and enjoy a cool cone on a hot summer’s day at the Ice Cream Corner. At Mrs. Sprague’s Confectionery, you can find old-fashioned taffy, candy sticks and real maple sugar.
Special events take place each year at Fort Steele, such as the annual Easter egg hunt, Mothers Day and Fathers Day, Thanksgiving dinner, a huge old-fashioned Canada Day celebration, Wild West Wednesdays, Saturday nights on the town, gold panning days, and the annual harvest festival in late August.
A truly old-fashioned Thanksgiving feast is also a favorite, with folks returning year after year. These and so many more exciting things to do and see make Fort Steele a definite must-visit on your trip to the East Kootenay.
One thought on “Fort Steele Heritage Town”
We visited Fort Steele on Canada day 2008 and found it a great place. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. probably i most enjoyed my trip on the footplate of the engine driven by Deborah. We loved Canada and its people. We come from Te puke New Zealand. ~