Civic advocate eager to share ideas

October 10, 2011
Raina Delisle
Cedric Steele

Honorary Captain (Navy) Cedric Steele is an ideas guy.

Good ideas have marked Steele’s professional and philanthropic career and have left a mark on Victoria. The president of Cedric Steele Realty Ltd. is credited with bridging a closer relationship between the business community and the Armed Forces, and being a driving force behind the creation of the Royal Roads University Fellows Council, among many other achievements.

“Cedric is an extraordinarily generous man,” says David Marshall, chair of the board of directors of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “He’s generous with his time, with his energy, with his influence – and he has a great deal of that – and with his ideas. He’s not at all short of ideas, and energy and passion. He is always thinking of how can we do better as a navy, as a chamber, as a community.”

Marshall’s relationship with Cedric dates back to 1997, when Marshall was named base commander of CFB Esquimalt and Cedric was named honorary captain of the navy. The pair worked closely in those years and Marshall says Steele’s dedication to the navy and the community of Victoria is as strong today as it was then.

“There are only so many honorary captains around,” says Marshall, principal of Strategus Consulting, a management consultancy. “Some serve for four years, some serve for six. Cedric will now have served for 14, which is well beyond the norm. It reflects his ongoing commitment, the fact that he’s not tired and still has a lot of ideas.”

In addition to generating his own ideas to benefit the community, Steele is also helping others focus and execute their ideas. Marshall says Steele, who won the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award in April, jumped at the opportunity to participate in an upcoming program at the chamber that will connect emerging professionals with successful executives for one-on-one sessions. The young businesspeople participating in the one-on-ones will primarily be from the Prodigy Group, a networking association of young businesspeople affiliated with the chamber.

“I would like to continue to be a bridge between those who have new ideas and want to improve the community and also be able to introduce them to others who might be able to help their journey,” says Steele, adding that he’s looking forward to being a soundboard for the ideas in a friendly, Dragons’ Den-esque setting.  

Incidentally, Prodigy Group was founded by Steele’s son Shawn, a Royal Roads alumnus who is poised to follow in his father’s footsteps. “It’s given me great satisfaction to see how Shawn’s involved in the community,” Steele says with a smile.
Steele’s office overlooking the Inner Harbour is testament to the lives he’s touched. Certificates of achievement hang on the wall and photos of celebratory moments sit on the bookshelf. On his desk is a miniature replication of the Homecoming statue at Ship’s Point, which depicts a sailor’s happy reunion with his daughter and was erected to celebrate the navy’s 100th anniversary last year. Steele, who co-chaired the fundraising campaign, was instrumental in making the memorial a reality. 

Soon, Steele will have to find a home for his Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award, which he will receive from Royal Roads at convocation on Oct. 21. “It certainly is a great honour,” says Steele, adding that all the volunteer work he’s done has been fun and hasn’t seemed like work at all. In fact, Steele says, he feels he’s benefitted more from volunteering than the organizations in which he’s been involved. “It’s been part of my own education,” he says. “What little you can do to make an organization better, I feel you usually get back five to 10 times more than you give.”

Moving forward, Steele says he will continue to focus his volunteer time – and his ideas – on three organizations, all of which have inspired and educated him: the navy, the Salvation Army (where he sits on the advisory board) and Royal Roads University. “From Royal Roads, I’ve learned a lot as to how an innovative educational process can work to the betterment of the community,” he says. “There are some huge opportunities there.”