The Friends of Fort Steele Society is a not for profit, board of director run organization established in 1989 to manage Fort Steele Heritage Town on behalf of the Province of British Columbia.
In 1961, the Province declared Fort Steele a Historic Park with a mandate to “preserve, present, and manage for the public benefit the historic settlement of Fort Steele…”
Fort Steele is a living history museum. We bring our past back to life! Activities vary by season (and pandemic restrictions).
The Friends of Fort Steele Society took over full management of operations in 2004 under a long-term contract with the Province.
The Friends strive to build a sustainable future for Fort Steele by continuing conservation initiatives, building community partnerships, developing a sustainable funding model, and providing visitors with an experience that truly enables them to visualize a day in the life of Fort Steele in its heyday.
As a non-profit organization, our support network is our greatest asset in achieving these goals. With over 150 volunteers, countless community partners, and a dedicated staff (15 year-round, over 80 seasonal), ranging from Maintenance, a small administration team, Curatorial, theatre, education, trades, livestock train, retail and food service staff! While, to the naked eye, it might not look like much going on, but, with a site the size of Fort Steele, the worker bees are spread out and are rushing around making a whole lot happen!
Your admission goes towards a LOT of animal care and upkeep, keeping the grounds looking immaculate, programs getting developed for the season, and special events!
Fun fact: while many people see the animals on site, many overlook the mountainous costs associated with maintaining such an incredible breed of Clydesdales, not to mention all of our other 8 breeds of Heritage Livestock animals! Make sure to visit the livestock team to learn about the history, and the future of the Okalla Prison Farm Horse Blood line, it is exciting!
With the backdrop of the spectacular Rocky and Purcell Mountains. During the summer months, Fort Steele employs up to 80 staff! This incredible group of people pull together to bring you the best of the best where ever they can! From Day to day operations, to special events, our staff take immense pride in showcasing the incredible sites and history that Fort Steele has to offer! Of course, we ALWAYS welcome your thoughts, opinions and aspirations, even your criticisms (but, as we tell our staff, if you have a criticism, we hope that you would have a solution to fix it!)
Fun Summer Fact: Our aging train is nearing its centennial birthday! Did you know that each lap around the 4KM railway loop, comes at a staggering cost of $800!! (Its always the small things that are the most shocking!)
Our Fall Season you would think is where we start to wind down! Certainly from the onlooker side of things, it appears to be this way! During the Fall season, our staffing performs a death defying drop down to only 20! While this drop occurs all at once when our summer season comes to a grinding halt, our busy little town keeps charging forward! This is when Fort Steele truly comes to life! You can come to visit us for some of our largest and most exciting events! Kootenay Country Fair comes out in mid September, Our board of directors and membership meet for their annual general meeting, Thanksgiving comes around the corner and then of course SPOOKTACULAR! Fun fact: While only being a one night hoorah for our visitors, SPOOKTACULAR begins its planning as soon as SPOOKTACULAR ends! Our staff get together and discuss all of the pros and cons of the night and then we start to plan for the following year! With all that occurs at SPOOKTACULAR, our staff begin the planning months in advance, setup and preparations begin at the beginning of September!
Our Winter season is where all of our buildings get put to bed, our curatorial and maintenance team are busy busy from September to March ensuring that each building is cleaned and all artefacts are stored away to protect them from the winter elements. Where you might come to the site and be disappointed with the covers over our windows, you can rest assured that we are taking the preventative and safe guarding measures to ensure that our 98 structures and millions of treasures are kept safe and secure for your viewing pleasure in our warmer months! Of course, in the winter, we keep storming ahead! Our livestock team never stops, no matter the season (maybe we should stick to bears, at least they hibernate....) Of course, our fantastic beasts are able to be found year round, where the livestock team continues to train our wonderful growing team of Clydesdales, and taking care of all of our other fluffy critters!
Fun Fact: Fort Steele never actually closes! While we like to send our staff home to spend the holidays with their families, Fort Steele has to have staff on the property every day of the year. Livestock staff are on site every day ensuring our animals are fed, watered and cared for to the utmost care at all times!
Conservation, education and an incredible visitor experience are what you will find at Fort Steele - all while making treasured memories with your family and friends!
Visit Fort Steele Heritage Town and Explore Yesterday, Today!