Manitoba History: Golf Introduced into Manitoba: Samuel Bedson and a Link at Stony Mountain
by Al Hackett
In 1877, Stony Mountain Penitentiary was established and Col. Samuel Lawrence Bedson became the first warden. Bedson was born in 1849 in Montreal, son of an army officer. He came west with the Wolseley expedition of 1870 and later that year was put in charge of the prison at Lower Fort Garry. When the Dominion government established a penitentiary there in 1871, Bedson became the first warden. He later chose the site for Stony Mountain Penitentiary and when it was ready for occupancy in 1877, he continued in charge.
Warden Bedson soon gained a province wide reputation as a man with an understanding heart. He was firm but fair with the inmates, concerned with their welfare, as he was with the welfare of his staff and of the settlers of the district. He took a keen interest in sports and held prominent positions in many athletic organizations. He kept prisoners out of mischief, for a time, by having them construct a nine-hole golf course near the prison, also a curling rink. People came from far and near to enjoy the games. The warden built a race track. He also organized a hunt club and many of his Winnipeg friends joined him in riding to the houndspink coats, horns and all.
Interested in all good works in the community, in a later era he would have been elected to president of the Kiwanis or any Service Club. He was the Rector’s Warden at Victoria Anglican Church, a member of the Masonic Order and became Grand Junior Warden in Manitoba.
He liked good food, whiskey on occasion, and he enjoyed entertaining. Playing the flute, he was the life of the party. There were plenty of good stories about his parties, but the one most enjoyed by everyone was the occasion when he invited two Judges and their wives to dinner. To assist he obtained the use of a special butler, and dressed as a butler should, everything went well until one of the Judges recognized the butler as one he had sentenced to the penitentiary for armed robbery. The butler was sent back to the cell block and the social evening proceeded.
The Stony Mountain Golf Course: 1889 Manitoba Free Press reported the following:
Although the Free Press reported that Bedson established a golf club in Stony Mountain, there is no evidence of an elected committee.
In 1891, Warden Bedson resigned as Warden to accept a position with the Alaska Boundary Commission. While at Ottawa in July, 1891 preparing for the Commission work, he died suddenly on July 17th.
Samuel Lawrence Bedson, the man who introduced golf into Manitoba, was buried in St. Johns Cemetery on July 22nd, 1891. A special train, made up of two coaches, a flat car, on which the casket was strapped, a caboose and an engineold no. 11took the body to Winnipeg.
Golf at Stony Mountain seems to have died out before 1892. In 1925, golfers in Stony Mountain formed the Assinawa Country Club, proclaiming at that time that this marked the revival of the pioneer club of the province.
Page revised: 4 December 2011