• Bob Steele & Roy Shields
  • Mike St. Claire
Bob Steele & Roy Shields

Bob Steele is my grandfather and husband to Mary Steele who's recipies and soaping equipment I used to get Steele & Co. started about five years ago. He plays an important role in my life and is a big part of the inspiration for Steele & Co. My grandfather is 90 years old and full of great stories. Here is one of them:

"In Kerrobert I became friends with Roy Shields who was two grades behind me in my sister’s year at school. We had a common interest in making model airplanes as we were both shut out of the dominant group of model builders my age. But I was newcomer and Roy was deemed too young so we teamed up, worked together on models, made hydrogen in an empty beer bottle and floated a balloon, and planned a hitch hiking trip to Banff. I had been to Banff with my parents nine years before and loved the mountains but Roy had never seen them. That winter we scoured the town for Libby’s soup labels and managed to collect enough to get a pup tent as a prize. It lacked a floor.

How we managed to convince our parents that we should leave home in this way for an unspecified number of days I can’t imagine. I was a tall 14 and Roy an undersized 12. There was never any problem getting rides as cars would rush by and after the image of Roy had sunk in, the driver would break, throw the car in reverse and invite us to get in. As for consent, Roy’s father gave his if I promised to look after my younger companion and my mother, surprisingly nervous about her children, may have been remembering her walking trip to Fort Qu’Appelle when she gave her permission.

We set out with ten dollars apiece and were gone for two weeks. At the Banff camp site, we were treated kindly by several family groups who instinctively recognized that the parents at home might appreciate their wandering boys getting some supervision. The buffalo compound astonished us as did the western style trading posts with beaded Indian crafts, the birds and animals, the mountain scenery and the strange and lovely ambience of Banff town.

On the way home, we managed to get in to the Calgary Stampede without paying. My budding taste for big band jazz was fueled by a group of black jazz musicians who appeared every hour or so on the midway. I gave no thought to running away to join the carnival but a life of playing in the sax section of the black jazz band had a strong appeal."

  • Mike St. Claire