He had a name right out of a comic book, and exploits for the history books.
From the founding of the RCMP to the Riel Rebellion to the Yukon Gold Rush to the First World War, there was hardly a major event in Canadian history that did not feature a key role for Sam Steele.
“We’ve been calling him the Forest Gump of Canadian history,” said Lynn McPherson, archivist of the first major exhibit devoted to a genuine Canadian hero, now open at Enterprise Square on Jasper Avenue. But unlike Gump, who stumbled into history, Sam Steele charged right in.
While he wasn’t bringing law and order to the west, Steele was writing and collecting. After he died in England in 1919, thousands of pieces of Sam Steele memorabilia went into storage, held by his descendants in 83 banana boxes, said U of A librarian Robert Desmarais. His descendants sold the collection to the U of A for $1.8 million. The display, spread out over 12,000 sq. ft. and 14,000 ft. of wall graphics, is just the tip of the iceberg of the Steele collection. It includes diaries, hundreds of photos, uniforms, weapons, and larger-than-life photographs, befitting a larger-than-life Canadian hero.
The exhibit runs until September. Admission rates apply.