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Samuel Benfield Steele

Samuel Benfield Steele

Samuel Benfield Steele

Steele was probably born on January 5, 1849 (some sources give the date as 1851 or 1852), in Medonte Township, Canada West, the son of Elmes and Anne Steele. After his father died, Steele went to live with his brother, and later joined the militia. He then became a member of the newly formed North West Mounted Police (NWMP).

Steele was successful in the NWMP and was promoted many times. When the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway began in the early 1880s, he was in charge of settling its minor disputes. By the time construction finished, he was in charge of policing the entire railway. At NWMP headquarters in Regina, he acted as a magistrate, settled arguments, and kept a close watch over the gamblers and bootleggers. In 1885, he commanded the mounted troops during the Northwest Rebellion. In 1890, he took several months' leave to marry Marie Harwood. After the discovery of gold in the Yukon, Steele moved there to command the NWMP and act as the Canadian government authority for the region.

When the Boer War broke out in South Africa in 1899, Steele took charge of the British Army unit, Lord Strathcona's Horse, whose main job was to scout for the enemies' position. He and his soldiers won high praise for their actions.

When World War I erupted, Steele once again volunteered for active duty. He eventually became commander of all Canadian troops in Europe, and was knighted on New Years Day in 1918. He then retired and, the next year, unfortunately died of influenza just after his 70th birthday on January 30, 1919. He was buried in Winnipeg.

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