Neglected N.B. Father of Confederation returns to Charlottetown
An actor playing William Henry Steeves joined the better known Fathers of Confederation Wednesday
Two New Brunswickers brought a less known Father of Confederation back to life in Charlottetown this week — even if it was an unofficial addition to the guest list.
Alongside actors dressed as historic figures such as Sir John A. Macdonald, a couple playing the roles of William Henry Steeves and his wife Mary walked around town on Wednesday.
Actors William Balser and Jane VanKampen say Steeves and his wife played big roles in the creation of Canada at the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, and deserve to be remembered for it.
Balser and VanKampen both work at the Steeves House Museum in Hillsborough, N.B., dedicated to the Steeves family.
Balser said the Steeves did a lot of business work in the background.
“He didn't make any speeches, but he was responsible for inter-colonial railways and he worked with Samuel Leonard Tilley,” said Balser. “So we wanted to represent him.”
Steeves was a Father of Confederation, just like Tilley. But Balser says while Tilley gets most of the credit for bringing New Brunswick to Confederation, Steeves deserves it just as much.
Balser said Steeves’ wife was in some of his transcripts and memoirs of the conference, as the “belle of the ball.”
VanKampen said she feels right at home in Mary's dress. She says tourists are flocking to them to learn more.
“They ask several times for us to repeat the name but they want to know all about it. They're very interested in how he was a part of Confederation,” she said.
Actors dressed as various Fathers of Confederation will be walking around Charlottetown all summer long, but for Steeves and his wife, the day after Canada Day was a one-time appearance.