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Steeves is a surname, and may refer to:

  • Burpee L. Steeves (1868–1933), American politician from Idaho; lieutenant governor of Idaho 1905–07
  • David Steeves (1934–1965), U.S. Air Force officer initially accused of giving a jet to the USSR during the Cold War; subseqeuntly exonerated when the crash site was discovered many years later in a remote area in the mountains
  • George Steeves (born 1945), Canadian art photographer
  • Gord Steeves (contemporary), Canadian city councilor from Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Tim Steeves (contemporary), Canadian comedian and writer
  • Wayne Steeves (born 1944), Canadian politician from New Brunswick; provincial legislator
  • William Henry Steeves (1814–1873), Canadian merchant and politician; one of the Fathers of Canadian Confederation
  • All Steeves in Canada and America are descendants of Heinrich Stief, a German immigrant who went first to America, then to Canada. [1]

Heinrich Stief, his wife Regina and his seven sons were 1 of the 11 families who moved to the area which is now Moncton, New Brunswick to found a settlement. These first settlers were transported to the region by several groups of Philadelphia businessmen. The leader of the largest one was Benjamin Franklin. All of the dealings with the settlers were done by John Hughes, who was Franklin's man on the ground. After surviving the first harsh winter, the Stiefs moved downriver to Hillsborough, New Brunswick 2 or 3 years later. These first German families are honoured on a plaque at Hall's Creek as the settlers of Moncton.


Johann Heinrich Stieff was born in Sirchingen, a tiny village several kilometers northwest of Münsingen, Germany in 1718, the seventh child of Augustin and Anna Barbara Stieff. Augustin was a herder of cattle and sheep who moved around multiple times over the years in search of work. For most of Heinrich's childhood, the family lived in Münsingen and a small village 9 km south of Münsingen called Hundersingen. The family's wanderings resulted in Heinrich's birth record eluding researchers for many years, discovered finally in May, 2014[1] (Note that the custom was to use the middle name as the "called-by" name; both extant signatures of Heinrich are signed "Heinrich Stief," so the name Johann never appears in the records in the New World and the second "f" got dropped.)

Marriage and first family in Germany[edit]

Heinrich Stief and Regina Stahlecker were married in Münsingen in 1745.[2] They had one child in Münsingen, then they moved east to Seissen where they had two more children. Heinrich was a ziegler (brickmaker) by trade. The first two children (daughter and son) died within a year of their birth. With only one remaining daughter, they decided to emigrate to America.

Second family in America[edit]

They departed from Rotterdam, as did tens of thousands of Palatinate Germans in the 18th century, and arrived in Philadelphia in October 1749. The little girl had evidently perished on the ocean, so Heinrich and Regina arrived in the New World without any children. However, Regina was already pregnant again, and they went on to have seven more children, all sons, all born in the Philadelphia area (Germantown and subsequently Roxborough). They stayed in America until 1766 when land became available in Nova Scotia in the aftermath of the French and Indian War (also called the Seven Years' War) as the British won control of Canada from the French, and wished to repopulate the area with loyal British subjects.

Move to Nova Scotia[edit]

Heinrich and Regina with their seven healthy sons sailed along with seven other German-American families to what is now Moncton, NB, arriving at Hall's Creek on the Petitcodiac River on 3 June 1766.[2][3] After a first and very trying winter, they moved downriver to take up farming in the area that is now Hillsborough, New Brunswick.

Legacy of the name[edit]

The name was anglicized in Nova Scotia, recorded in the 1770 census as Steeves. With seven sons to carry on the name, each having an average of nearly ten children, the Steeves name became the most common one in the area. Some descendants spelled it Steves. Dr. Wright counted 71 grandchildren, 65 of whom married, and 526 great-grandchildren.[4] By now the Steeves/Steves number in the hundreds of thousands, mostly in Canada and America, but some spread around the world, all of whom are descended from this one famous couple, Heinrich and Regina. Proud and notable descendants include the late Jack Layton, The Hon. William Henry Steeves, a father of Canadian Confederation, and Wayne Steeves, a provincial legislator in New Brunswick.


  1. ^ Steeves, Philip Earle: Heinrich and Regina, The Story of the First Steeves (Steeves House Museum, Hillsborough, 2014)
  2. ^ a b Bowser, Les: The Search for Heinrich Stief, A Genealogist on the Loose. (Nimbus Publishing Ltd, Halifax, 2001)
  3. ^ Hempel, Rainer L: New Voices on the Shores, Early Pennsylvania German Settlements in New Brunswick. (German-Canadian Historical Association, Toronto, 2000)
  4. ^ Wright, Esther Clark: Samphire Greens, the Story of The Steeves. 2d Ed (The Steeves Family, inc, Hillsborough, 2001; First edition 1961)