Fort Steele – Cranbrook BC
Experience life as it was in the 1890’s with a visit to Fort Steele Heritage Town . This excellent heritage site features over 60 displays depicting life at Fort Steele before the turn of the last century. New this year! Gossip Tours twice daily in the Spring and Fall seasons. Join one of Fort Steele ‘s colourful historical characters for a unique (and sometimes scandalous) perspective on turn-of-the-century life. Popular summertime features include the Wild Horse Theatre and living history street dramas, a steam railway, horsedrawn wagon rides, blacksmith, harness maker, and domestic interpretation. Gold panning is now included in summertime admission!
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 to Wild Horse Creek. In 1888 the settlement’s name was changed to Fort Steele to honour Superintendent Samuel Benfield.
Steele of the North-West Mounted Police, who peacefully reduced tensions between the Ktunaxa Kinbasket people and the settlers who were relatively new to the area.
Major mineral discoveries in the East Kootenay brought a new boom in the 1890’s, and by 1897, Fort Steele had become the thriving commercial and social hub of the region. One year later, when the long-promised Canadian Pacific Railway bypassed Fort Steele in favour of nearby Cranbrook , the boom sputtered to a halt and the town began its decline into obscurity.
The province purchased the historical site in 1961, and it was operated by the province, with the assistance of the Friends of Fort Steele Society until 2004. On April 1, 2004 The Friends of Fort Steele Society began the first year of a 15-year agreement to manage Fort Steele Heritage Town on behalf of the Province of British Columbia . The Province continues to own all the buildings, artifacts, and archives held on site, and while Provincial funding has been reduced by half, it still exists.
Weather in Cranbrook
Special Events and Dates
April 30 Spring season begins
Trades & domestic interpretation begins. Gossip Tours twice daily.
Food services open.
May 8 Mother’s Day Lunch Buffet open from noon to 3 pm. Admission is free for moms. Call (250) 426-6719 to reserve. June 19 Father’s Day at the Fort Steele Railway. Dad’s ride free on the train’s first trips of the year! July 1 Summer season begins. Wagon Rides, Wild Horse Theatre, Living History Street Theatre and Fort Steele Steam Railway open for the summer. And the same day..
July 1 Dominion Day Celebration Happy Birthday Canada !
Bring the family for a slice of birthday cake, musical entertainment, living history street dramas, and heritage games. Aug. 21 RCMP Musical Ride
Sept. 5 Fall season begins. Gossip tours twice daily. October 9 24th Annual Thanksgiving Celebration possibly Fort Steele ‘s favourite event (but not the largest). Dress warmly for a crisp autumn afternoon in the great outdoors! Help harvest potatoes for the local food bank, and enjoy a sampling of traditional Thanksgiving fare at the Lambi house. Activities run from noon to 4 pm. Book dinner in one of three seatings at the International Hotel. Call (250) 426-6719.
October 10 Final day of fall season.
We’re still open for self-guided walking tours and pre-booked activities. Groups call ahead for options. October 29 Halloween Spooktacular One of the East Kootenays ‘ greatest family nights! Haunted houses (safe & scary), bonfires, fireworks, trick-or-treating, games and theatre show for kids.
6 pm start. Dress up. Dress warm. Come and have fun!
Nov. 26 to Dec. 24 – 6th Annual Christmas at Fort Steele .
Join us for a season of Christmas programs and activities for all ages. TBA Winter Sleigh Rides
Jingle all the way! Join us for a wintery ride in a horse-drawn sleighs or wagon if there is no snow. Fort Steele ‘s sleigh ride day is a great family afternoon: horses, hotdogs, marshmallows and bonfires, crafts and carols. Bundle up and join us from noon-4 pm.
Fort Steele Heritage Town
Fort Steele, BC V0B 1N0
Telephone: (250) 417-6000 . Fax: (250) 489-2624
Recorded Information: (250) 426-7352
All pictures by the author
Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0