Edward F. (Boney) Thompson

By Jean L. Johnson pg 754 More Big Hill Country 2009

Boney Thompson came to Cochrane from Montana in 1905. He was considered one of the best riders of his time and earned the title, King of the Riders. While working for Bob Meiklejon on the place now known as the Grande Valley Ranch he homesteaded the quarter section later owned by Gordon Hinde. He broke horses for G. E. Goddard at the Bow River Horse Ranch and following the death of W. D. Kerfoot, worked for a time at the Virginia Ranch in Grand Valley. 

Thompson was undoubtedly the best rider who participated in the 1912 Calgary Stampede, but he failed to draw a horse that would buck and there were no re-rides. A horse from Montana named Gaviota threw every rider and his owner claimed that he couldn’t be ridden. Some Cochrane men put up bets that they had a man who could ride him. When the man from Montana learned that the rider’s name was Thompson, he asked, “By any chance do you mean Boney Thompson?” When he learned that Boney was indeed the man he called off the bet. He said, “I don’t want Gaviota ridden.” 

Boney Thompson liked the way Laurie Johnson handled horses and asked him to give him a hand-breaking horses at the Hornbach place, up Grand Valley. This was the beginning of a friendship which lasted as long as Thompson lived. They worked together for George Creighton at the Bar C and later broke Thompson’s own horses branded EF Bar. 

In 1918 when the Parks Department took over the Brewster Ranch at the Ya Ha Tinda, Boney, Laurie, and Eddie Rowe gathered the Brewster horses. Among these horses was a brown mare, clean-legged, sixteen hands and weighing over twelve hundred pounds. When the horses were penned she kept right on and cleared a six-foot corral. Boney got her, named her Mother Brewster, and had Laurie break her. 

Up on the Dog Pound Creek, northwest of Cochrane, there was a log cabin and a set of corrals; and there in the summer of 1921, Boney and Laurie were breaking horses. At this time Boney was 48 years old and suffering from stomach ulcers. One day they rode up to the Little Red Deer place, on the edge of the Forest Reserve, where Big Bill Loblaw and Lome Bingeman (the Bingy Kid) were breaking horses. Laurie rode a bronc and Boney was on Mother Brewster. It was raining heavily when they reached the Little Red so they spent the night there. 

The next day Bingy and Loblaw saddled up the broncs. Both men had been bucked off these horses so Bingy asked Laurie to top his off. This Laurie did without bothering to change saddles. Boney said, “If you can ride Bing’s saddle, I reckon I can ride Bill’s.” And he stepped up to Bill’s horse, even though the stirrups were too long for him. The horse bucked violently. jumping high and landing stiffed legged. At the second jump they could see that something was wrong with Boney. He remained upright in the saddle till the horse stopped bucking; then he slumped to the ground. 

Cochrane Stockyards 1914

They carried him into the house where he lay in agony and begged for his gun. He needed a doctor and the nearest telephone was eighteen miles away at the Mount Royal Ranch. Laurie saddled Mother Brewster and told Bingy to follow him with two extra saddled horses and wait at the Glen Finnan hay meadow, about the halfway mark of the journey. 

Laurie walked the mare across the river flats, forded the river and then he galloped. There was no road; his trail led through creeks, coulees, brush, and muskegs for half the distance. One hour and a quarter after Boney dropped from the saddle Laurie galloped into Mount Royal with the mare covered with foam. Pete Dreever, who was working for D.P. McDonald, saw him coming. He asked no questions, just took the mare, threw a blanket over her, and walked her till she cooled out. This gallant mare was not hurt by the ride but she was never saddled again. D. P. phoned Cochrane for Dr. Waite who drove out in his Model T, picked up Laurie and went on to the meadow where Bingy wait- ed with the horses. Dr. Waite who had never ridden, was mounted on a quiet horse. Laurie and Bingy each took a satchel; one led the doctor’s horse while the other urged it on. Dr. Waite grasped the horn with both hands and throughout that ride, which must have been a nightmare for him, he spoke not a word. He could do nothing for Boney but ease his pain, for the pelvis was shattered and the bladder punctured. In the meantime, Jack Fuller had brought a team and wagon from his home six miles down the river. They filled the wagon box with hay, put a mattress on it and headed down the river as this was the only road out. Bingy went ahead and got Austin Reid to come to meet them with his car. When they finally got Boney to Calgary, Dr. McEachern operated but without success. Boney Thompson died and the whole district mourned. E.C. Johnson made the arrangements for a cowboy funeral. The church was packed. 

The Stoney Chiefs were there too. The Rev. Mr. Brooker spoke eloquently, of the life and attributes of the cowboy whose death they mourned. A wreath of wild flowers was laid on the coffin and the coffin placed on a horse-drawn wagon, driven by Bob Armistead. Ed Thompson’s saddled horse, Big Sis, was led behind and his boots were reversed in the stirrups. The pallbearers dressed in their cowboy clothes and wearing black bands on their Stetsons, were following on horseback behind Boney’s horse as the procession moved slowly up the Big Hill to the cemetery. Ed “Boney” Thompson’s grave is marked by a headstone placed there by one of his friends, Andy Garson. 

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