Col. Samuel Bedson

In 1873, William and Charles Alloway, along with their partner James McKay, had the foresight to anticipate the eventual disappearance of buffalo on the Manitoba plains. Having recently acquired 21,000 hides from a brigade of hunters, they made the decision to capture some buffalo for themselves. The brothers embarked on a hide hunting expedition, bringing a milk cow along with them, and successfully captured three calves on their first trip. The following year, they managed to capture three more. By 1877, the Alloways had acquired a total of thirteen buffalo, along with three catalo-crossbred offspring from domestic cattle. It was at this point that they decided to sell their small herd to Lt Col Samuel Bedson of Stony Mountain, Manitoba. In the process of moving them, there was a new calf born, making it a total of 14 head.  ( Charles Alloway herd

Col. Samuel Bedson. The nucleus of this herd consisted of a young buffalo bull and four heifers that came into Major Bedson’s possession in 1877. (purchased from Indians)  Since then their increase had been rapid, as in addition to the 83 which at present constitute the herd, there have been five killed at various periods and nine given away or sold, and 27 given to Lord Strathcona for the initially purchased herd.


The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 08 Jun 1887
Warden Bedson Evidence Regarding Buffalo Hybrids Before the North-West Committee.

Yesterday before Senator Schultz s committee regarding; the resources and food products of the North-West, interesting evidence was obtained from Warden Bedson, of the Manitoba penitentiary, who is the owner of the last remaining buffalo herd in die North West.

Col. Samuel Bedson
Manitoba History

Commencing with nine buffalo he has now a herd of 68, not including 18 hybrids the result of crossing the buffalo bull with a Durham cow. These crosses procured a hybrid animal, larger, stronger, and heavier than the domestic animal, and also able to winter out without shelter, even when calved as late as November. The meat of the hybrid, Mr. Bedson says is better than that of the domestic animal and the robe more equally furred and for all purposes better than the ordinary buffalo robes. Mr. Bedson says the crossing is affected without difficulty and thinks a cross between the buffalo and domestic cow would be still better than between buffalo and Durham. He has only tried the Durham cow but proposes to try the Polled Angus and Galloway breeds on account of the darker color of the robe, one of which would be worth $75. The hybrids are more useful than the domestic ox, being larger, stronger, and hardier, and can be applied to any of the ordinary purposes of oxen. One instance was given where a three-year-old hybrid animal weighed 2,000 pounds and stood five feet high at the fore shoulders. The hybrid calves need little care, and no evidence of a hump is apparent till about three weeks after birth.

 The witness dwelt upon the advisability of transplanting wild rice throughout the North-West which he considered would furnish a food supply for the Indiana and white settlers better than almost any other and be a sure encouragement of wild duck and geese. He advocated protection for the white fish of Lake Winnipeg, which would soon disappear if exportation were kept up at the present late.

Mr. Secretan, C. E.. was then examined, giving more information regarding the buffalo and generally corroborating the evidence of Mr. Bedson. He said the latter herd were the last remaining British buffalo. In the United States, there were 200 in the Yellowstone Park, 10 in Texas, and a few others in the bands of some parties as curiosities. Buffalo Bill had tried to buy a part of Mr. Bedson’s herd, but he had refused to sell.



Manitoba Weekly Free Press
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 16 Jun 1887
Fingers Blown Off

One of Warden Bedson’s buffalos escaped from the herd three or four days ago and found his way to Mr. Thomas Monkrnan’s farm, St. Andrews. The bison pranced around and bothered the cattle considerable, and on Saturday, when Mr. Monkman could stand it no longer, he reached for his rifle and way-laid the unruly buffalo. When loading a blank cartridge, instead of gently pressing the cap into position, he pounded it to its place, with an explosion as the result. The first and second fingers, as well as the palm of his hand, were blown off.


In 1888, Col. Bedson sold most of his entire herd to C.J. Jones, Jones removed the herd to his place in Kansas, two large lots went to Allard, and the other looked to be Antelope Island. The rest were here and there in two to ten head. Being sold out by the early 90s’. 


STAMPEDE OF BISON.  January 1889
How Buffalo Jones’ Herd was Shipped from Manitoba to Kansas.

La Tanche Norbert of Regina, the government seat for the northwest territories of Canada, passed through Chicago the other evening en route to the eastern provinces and while at the Palmer house regaled a Times reporter with an account of the shipment of buffalo from Stony Mountain, Man., to Garden City, Kan. “A few months ago,” said he, “C. J. Jones, a prominent ranchman of Garden City, paid a visit to Major Sam Bedson, the warden of the Manitoba penitentiary at Stony Mountain, and made a cash offer for the magnificent herd of buffalo belonging to Bedson, but the price offered, about $20,000, was not fancy enough for the gentleman who worked the corner on the last remnant of an almost extinct animal. More money was demanded, and for a few weeks negotiations for a transfer stood still. Meantime Major Bedson notified certain dominion government officials that such an offer had been made and asked what inducements would be made by the government to prevent the herd’s removal to the United States. It is understood that the government made a bid, but the transfer shows Mr. Jones on top at a cost of $50,000.

“One Saturday the first consignment from the famous herd was loaded at Winnipeg on the cars of the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba road, and they were soon en route to the Kansas ranch. Among those who witnessed the loading of the animals on the cars were several old-timers in the northwest who ten years ago thought nothing of a sight of great herds of buffalo in a stampede across the country, and there was a feeling of sadness at parting with the shaggy monsters. And well there might be, for specimens on the far northwestern plains are now as scarce as hen’s molars.

“The distance from Stony mountain to Winnipeg is about twelve miles and when thirty-three of the ninety-five had been separated for shipment they were driven across the open prairie to the Winnipeg stockyards. Three or four naughty old bulls when halfway on their journey ‘sniffed’ the air, saw trouble, and with a sudden right about threw down their heads and with tails high in the air took the crow line to their old quarters. Horsemen armed with heavy cowboy whips and steel prongs charged after the truants, but the old-time vigor had returned to them, and they soon reached home. When the yards at Winnipeg were reached the remainder turned tail, but were headed off soon and driven within the gates. Then it was that trouble in dead earnest began to brew. The animals began to stampede within the pens, and it was about as exciting to the spectators as a duel in the dark with knives would be between a couple of southern editors. When they saw that they had been caged they began a fight among themselves and some fierce encounters were waged between the old bulls.

“The younger cattle were raised on the horns of their seniors, thrown high in the air, and otherwise gored. A dog that had been used to the maddened brutes got in among the fighting herd, and in less time than it takes to think about it was reduced to a grease spot and flying particles of hair. The fight lasted upwards of an hour, and the idea of getting the buffalo to march the gangway was almost abandoned and would have been but for the action of an infuriated old bull, who took it into his stubborn head to inaugurate a stampede. This old bull had been making trouble all day and wired in to eclipse his other efforts. Gathering his strength he got behind the herd and began making it exceedingly unpleasant for the remainder, bellowing at them and driving them forward with vigorous prods of his stout horns.

“In this way, buffaloe’s have from time immemorial worked up stampedes. The herd had to forge ahead, and having no other plank to travel, had to march to limbo; but when the old bull reached the car door and saw where his skill at stampeding had brought him, he tossed up his head and, with a look of disgust, wheeled around, cleared several fences from 7 to 14 feet high, and was soon observed a far-away speck on the prairie. Finally, the animals were got into position, but a few miles south of the Manitoba and Minnesota boundary a little fight in the car resulted in the death of three ‘breeds.’

“Away up in the far northwestern part of Canada, in the country tributary to Great Slave Lake, are what are left on the North American continent of genuine untamed buffalo, but it is such an out-of-the way region that hunters find it inconvenient to drive them south.

Col. Samuel Bedson
Western Canada Pictorial Index 14994_A0467

“In the early days,” said Mr. Norbert, “Regina was known as ‘Pile o’ Bones,’ or rather it was named ‘Pile o’ Bones’ by the pioneer element of the town. Some years ago a great number of wild buffalo perhaps 50,000 or 75,000 were stampeded by Indians and half-breeds and driven for many miles northward. It was in the spring, and the ice on the rivers and lakes was about to break up. The Saskatchewan river runs through Regina, and upon the ice the infuriated herd ran. A few got across in safety, but their great weight soon destroyed the ice, and to this day the bottom of the river is strewn with skulls, ribs, and bones of every kind belonging to the unfortunate animals. When the Canadian Pacific Railway opened up for business, Yankee speculators, who had heard of the accident, came up and quietly raised the bones and shipped many a car load south, where they were disposed of at an enormous profit. The only stray bones now in that country are in the hands of roving Indians, who polish them up, decorate them with coyote hair and sell them to wandering travelers.” 



The Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada • Sat, Jul 18, 1891 

 Lieut-Col Samuel Lawrence Bedson the well-known ex-warden of the Manitoba penitentiary, died suddenly this evening from a paralytic stroke. He had been in Ottawa for some time having had to resign his office owing to illness which was of the character of general debility. Though much reduced in strength he was still quite able to get about and yesterday spent the afternoon in the House of Commons. This afternoon he suffered a stroke of paralysis which was succeeded at 6:15 by a second which carried him off. Col Bedson was bom in 1842. He came to Canada with the first battalion of the Sixteenth Regiment of Foot and went to the Northwest with the first Red River expedition under Sir Garnet Wolseley as quartermaster sergeant of the Second Quebec rifles. He remained in Manitoba was made warden of the penitentiary and when the second Riel rebellion broke out went to the front in charge of the commissary department. He was a man who made friends universally and his death will be regretted.