Fort Steele got it's start in 1864 when a small gold rush brought a number of prospectors and accompanying people into the area on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The original name of the town, Galbraith's Ferry got it's name form John Galbraith the towns founder. The lakes in the area ran for hundreds of miles along the large trenches between the huge mountain ranges. Galbraith was able to set up a ferry service for people to cross the lake and he made good money at the business.
By 1888 Sam Steele of the North West Mounted Police was assigned to the area and when a dispute between a settler and a local native erupted, and threatened a flare up in relations between the white people of the town and the local native bands, he was able to diffuse the situation. Most of the townspeople were so grateful that they renamed the town after Steele.
In the 1890's the future of the town depended upon the coming construction of the railway through the town but because of political interference the railway line was built a short instance form the town where James Baker had brought all of the land and established the town of Cranbrook. He then began to sell land to all of the residents of Fort Steele and made a small fortune. The people moved away from Fort Steele and essentially became a ghost town until 1967 when it was designated as a provincial heritage site and the preservation and restoration of the town began. Fort Steele Heritage Town was opened in 1969 and its has Experienced millions of visitors since that time.