A rare Victorian Helmet Plate from the "Manitoba Penitentiary" (a.k.a. "Stony Mountain Penitentiary"). The basis of this multi-piece plate is identical to the military helmet plates of the period. The centre bears a shield with a rampant Bison (representing the provincial crest of Manitoba). The script initials "M.P." for "Manitoba Penitentiary" appear in the top field of the crest. Tunic buttons and a 2-piece belt buckle bearing the same crest are known to exist.
The Manitoba Penitentiary opened in 1876 as part of the first major expansion of the federal penitentiary service. Prior to the 1890s, when staff uniforms were finally standardized across the country, each institution appears to have used its own insignia. It is believed, quite reasonably, that Warden Samuel Bedson, first Warden of Manitoba Penitentiary and a military veteran of the Red River Campaign, may have designed this piece, but this has not yet been documented. See the matching button in the "Buttons" section of this website.