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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; subsequently exonerated when the crash site was discovered many years later in a remote area in the mountains of California.
  • George Steeves (born 1945), Canadian art photographer
  • Gord Steeves (contemporary), Canadian city councilor from Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Manoah Steves (nineteenth century), founder of Steveston
  • Paulette Steeves (contemporary), Canadian First Nations (Cree-Metis-Ojibwa) Indigenous Archaeologist
  • 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[1]

All persons born Steeves (as distinct from those who married into the Steeves family, called "chosen" Steeves) in Canada and the United States are descendants of Heinrich Stief, a German immigrant who went first to the United States, then to Canada. Heinrich Stief, his wife Regina and their seven sons were one 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 initially 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][2] (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.[3] 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, as 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 New Brunswick[edit]

Heinrich and Regina with their seven healthy sons sailed from Philadelphia along with seven other German-American families and three other families (Irish and American) to what is now Moncton, NB, arriving at Hall's Creek on the Petitcodiac River on 3 June 1766.[4][5] After a first and very trying winter, they moved downriver to take up farming in the area that is now Hillsborough, New Brunswick. Hardworking and healthy, they were soon quite successful.

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.[6] 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 famed astronomer Simon Newcomb; the late Jack Layton, former leader of the Official Opposition; The Hon. William Henry Steeves, a father of Canadian Confederation; and Wayne Steeves, a provincial legislator in New Brunswick.


  1. ^ Steeves, Philip Earle (2014). Heinrich and Regina: The Story of the First Steeves (This book contains the latest, most authoritative genealogy for both sides of the family in Germany (Stief and Stahlecker) based on original source documents. ed.). Hillsborough, New Brunswick, Canada: Steeves House Museum. 
  2. ^ Steeves, Philip Earle, MD (Fall 2014). "The Search for Heinrich Stief's Birth Record". Generations, the Journal of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society. Vol. 36 (No. 3): 3–8. 
  3. ^ Bowser, Les (2001). The Search for Heinrich Stief. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Nimbus Publishing Ltd. 
  4. ^ Bowser. Ibid. 
  5. ^ Hempel, Rainer L. (2000). New Voices on the Shores. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: German-Canadian Historical Association. 
  6. ^ Wright, Esther Clark (2001). Samphire Greens: The Story of the Steeves (2nd ed.). Hillsborough, New Brunswick, Canada: Steeves Family Inc. 

External links[edit]