Memorable Manitobans: Spencer Argyle Bedford (1851-1933)
Land surveyor, farm leader, educator.
Born at Busted, Sussex, England on 1 February 1851, his family emigrated to Canada when he was eleven years old and took up land in Ontario. He trained as a surveyor, worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway in surveying its holdings, and moved into a CPR house at Moosomin (Saskatchewan). He guided parties of settlers into the west in search of land. He travelled widely with Dr. W. Saunders to select suitable sites for the Experimental Farms in Manitoba and Northwest Territories and aided in the establishment of the Central Farm in Ottawa. In 1888 he was appointed the first Superintendent of the Brandon Experimental Farm. His early work involved the development of the best methods for bringing the prairies under cultivation and the introduction of many varieties of cereals, grasses, vegetables, fruits and breeds of livestock from many parts of the world to test their adaptability to the Canadian prairies.
Upon retirement from the Experimental Farm he was asked to become Professor of Field Husbandry at the Manitoba Agricultural College in Winnipeg. Bedford was always in demand at public engagements, speaking at many farmers’ meetings and meetings of Women’s Institutes. He was regarded with such respect that the government appointed him Deputy Minister of Agriculture. In 1915 he was appointed Chairman of the Manitoba Weed Commission, established to solve the weed problem developing in Manitoba. In 1921, at the age of seventy years, the University of Manitoba awarded him an honorary doctorate. The following year he was honoured by having his picture hung in the college hall and his name inscribed on the Roll of Fame. He served as President of the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba (1897-1898).
He died at his Winnipeg home, 194 Walnut Street, on 14 December 1933 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. He was survived by a son and three daughters. He was inducted posthumously to the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Dr. S. A. Bedford, well known in agriculture, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 December 1933, page 13.
This text was provided, in part, by the Manitoba Beekeepers’ Association, an MHS Centennial Organization, based on information at the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame in Brandon.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
Lawrence Stuckey Collection, S. J. McKee Archives, Brandon University.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 24 February 2017