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  • A Famous Sister

    Roger Pocock, a friend of the Steele family and whose papers were received with the Steele papers at the University of Alberta, is a fascinating individual in his own right. Adding to what makes Roger interesting, is the fact that he had a sister who was a very well known stage actress of her day. Her name was Lena Ashwell (nee Lena Margaret Pocock). ... read full post
  • The End of Summer

    I came across this unique photo-card recently in the Steele papers housed at Bruce Peel Special Collections Library at the University of Alberta. It is a lovely sepia-toned photograph of Sam Steele’s son Harwood walking down a country road in Vaudreuil, Quebec with his cousins. The photograph is mounted on a card stock with a pretty coloured maple leaf design on one side, the word ‘Canada’ written beneath the leaf, and a smal ... read full post
  • Report Card Time!

    For many Canadian students, the end of June means the school year is winding down, summer holidays are around the corner, and there is probably a report card being sent home. ... read full post
  • A letter from John George Diefenbaker

    Harwood Steele, Sam and Marie Steele’s son, was a military man (served in both World Wars I and II), a writer, lecturer, and historian. He was also involved in maintaining his family’s records, and was very protective of his father’s legacy and image. The Harwood Steele fonds, received at the University of Alberta alongside the records of Sam Steele and other family members, is diverse, extensive, and interesting for the many ... read full post
  • Shopping for Furniture ca. 1907

    Upon his return to Canada from England in 1907, Sam Steele was appointed commanding officer of Military District No. 13 (Alberta and the District of Mackenzie), with headquarters in Calgary.  While Sam moved to Calgary to assume his position, his wife Marie and the three children remained in Montreal to allow Marie time to prepare for this move across the country. She wanted to see her mother relocated with her younger brothe ... read full post
  • Honouring the Fallen

    Very shortly after the conclusion of the Second Boer (1899-1902), Sam Steele was intent on commissioning a monument to honour those men of Lord Strathcona’s Horse who had been killed in action during this war. An artist he consulted with, and whose designs he considered, was the French-Canadian artist and sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert. Hébert, well-known at this time for his public monuments, wrote to Sam Steele on the 28th ... read full post
  • An Artist in the Family!

    Sam and Marie Steele’s only son, Harwood, loved to draw pictures from an early age. The family scrapbooks have drawings that both he and his older sister Flora drew, and very recently, I came across two envelopes of pencil sketches an older Harwood (ca. 1920’s) had completed to possibly accompany his writing about the history of the NWMP/RCMP in Canada. These sketches form part of the Steele family archives that is housed at ... read full post
  • A Night Out

    Sam Steele and his wife Marie enjoyed attending various cultural events, wherever they lived, and would make a point of taking in theatre and concerts even when apart; entertainment and culture was important to both of them. The Steele family papers have many saved concert programs, theatre notices, and even some of Marie’s filled-in dance cards (although Sam was not particularly fond of  participating in the dancing!) Marie, ... read full post
  • Photographs from the American South-West

    As mentioned in previous blog entries, the papers of  former NWMP officer, adventurer, writer and friend of the Steele family, Roger Pocock, were acquired by the University of Alberta at the same time as the Sir Samuel Benfield Steele papers. Recently, I have been looking at Roger’s archives related to his “long ride” on horseback from Fort Macleod in southern Alberta to Mexico in 1899-1900. Roger devoted a large part of one ... read full post
  • Sam’s Bookmarks

    Along with the letters, diaries and photographs that form the Steele family records received at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, there are also – fittingly for a library – books! Sam Steele’s personal library contains a lot of military strategy and history books, and many have been inscribed by the author, or signed by Sam with his name, title, and date. While leafing through the books, the occasional interesting b ... read full post

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