THE STONES OF TRAIL
Alfred Bardsley probably joined the large group of young Englishmen who came to the prairies for free farmland. He arrived in Quebec City in 1906 from Manchester, England. (Further search of the English census reports is required to trace his lineage.)
Around 1912, he married the young Bertha Agnes Hannah , a member of a long time local farming family in Killarney, Manitoba. The couple had three sons (Raymond, Roy, and Reginald) and one daughter, Beatrice. In 1919, the Stones moved to a dairy farm in Sardis, BC. While attending school, the boys excelled in all sports such as baseball, basketball, bowling, and running. Research portrays Reg as the most enterprising. Shortly after the opening of the Chilliwack Golf Club in 1924, the boys began caddying at the golf course. They walked seven miles to the Colonel Theobold farm on Fairfield Island to caddy and to work for Jim Warman, the new club professional.
Roy recalled the trek to the course: “We lived near town and it was seven miles to the course. We’d walk with clubs in hand, hitting shots through fields and down the streets. The longest hole we played was a mile and a half. I forget what we set for par.”
Of the three brothers, Reg showed the signs of a champion first. He won the men’s club championship at age sixteen. He lowered the course record in 1931 to 32. Sometime around age sixteen or seventeen, it appears the boys left school to apprentice at Turpin’s Bakery. At age seventeen, Reg purchased the Van de Kamp Bakery. With a stable income, Reg married Ruby Morton on June 10th, 1936. While working for his brother Reg, Roy married Olive Howlett in 1937.
First regional championship
Reg won the Fraser Valley Amateur twice and lost in a 10-hour final to Harry “Buck” Berry in 1937. The epic battle occurred on the Chilliwack links. At this time, no sudden death decided a tie after 36 holes. Instead the pair played another nine holes to decide the winner. After 45 holes the combatants still remained. On their their sixth nine holes of the day, Reg tired but Buck appeared to gain strength. He birdied three of the final four holes to win the marathon battle.
Research indicates Roy never won any events while residing in the Valley, but he and Reg dominated West Kootenay golf for three decades. Similarly there are no records indicating Ruby even played golf while living in the Valley, but she became a dominant figure in women’s golf in the West Kootenays.
The move to Trail
In July 1937, Reg sold his bakery to McGavins and transferred to their main bakery in Vancouver. Roy transferred to the 4X Bakery in Vancouver. One year later 4X Bakery transferred him to Trail, BC to operate their new facility. A year later, May 3, 1939 Reg joined his brother. He worked as a plumber for Cominco until he assumed the professional and greenskeeper position at the Rossland-Trail GC. Ruby operated the clubhouse. In the winters, Reg supplemented his income by acting as manager of the local Trail ice rink. In 1949, the Trail Parks and Recreation Board appointed Reg their superintendent. He held this position until he retired in 1979. While in this position Reg and Roy became involved in curling. Roy succeeded Reg as Pro and Greenskeeper in 1949 until his retirement in 1978.
Because the golfers on the coast knew very little about the golfing abilities of Reg and Roy in the Kootenays, an incident occurred during the 1947 BC Men’s Amateur Championship at Uplands GC that infuriated Reg. In the semi-finals against Hughie Morrison, Roy appeared headed towards a big upset. At the turn, Roy’s caddy overheard a conversation between the British Columbia Golf Association officials. They were questioning Roy’s amateur status mistaking him for his brother Reg.
Roy responded to this regrettable incident. “I was so cheesed off being investigated as a pro, I deliberately lost four of the next eight holes. Morrison ruined my plan by three-putting the final hole to send the match to extra holes. On the first extra hole I then proceeded to purposely chip one-handed over the green and Hughie made a four footer to win.”
The Stones dominate West Kootenay Golf
For two decades Reg and Roy dominated West Kootenay golf. The two finished first or second in many of the local open events such as the Nelson Open, The Rainbow (Kaslo) Open, The New Denver (Slocan Open), The West Kootenay Men’s Championship, and the Rossland-Trail Open. Old-timers recall the epic battles between the Stones and the Donaldsons in these events. The two brothers lowered the course records for many of the local layouts. Utilizing their many connections in BC golf, Reg and Roy founded the Rossland-Trail Open in 1946. They inaugurated the first Pro-Am event in the Kootenays attracting many of the prominent regional professionals and amateurs to Trail. The good prize money attracted competitors such as Bill Mawhinney, Stan Leonard, Fred Wood, Roy Moe, and Chuck Congdon. In 1951, the BC Professional Golfers Association enhanced the prestige of the event by moving the 1951 BC Open to Trail.
Because of their high profile in golfing circles in the Kootenays, the brothers acted as advisers on the design and remodelling of Christina Lake, Castlegar, Mountain Meadows (Elkford), Nakusp, Kettle Valley (Rock Creek), and Salmo. Under their direction and with the assistance of Peter McIntyre, the trio expanded the Rossland-Trail layout to 27 holes in 1968 with the construction of the nine-hole Birchbank layout.
While the two brothers were winning over 35 championships in the West Kootenays, Ruby Stone accompanied them to participate in the women’s competitions. Over two decades, she competed against Mrs. Townsend and Mrs. H.H. Lakes to win over twenty championships. There is no indication Olive, Roy’s wife, played golf.
In the golfing community, the Stones will be remembered for their golfing prowess, but in the curling circles the brothers are remembered for their seven provincial men’s championships(1945,’49,’52,’
53,’55,’57,’62.) It should be noted from 1945 – 1967 the Trail Curling Club won eleven provincial men’s championships.
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