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12. Pioneer Writing / R. M. Graham

R. M. Graham left Ontario in 1882 for the West and made a tour of the province visiting several points north of Brandon and transversing southern Manitoba's entire length extending from the Red River to Range 28 and finally took up the farm where he is now residing. He removed thither with his family from St. Thomas, Ontario in June 1883, and started a small store in connection with his farm. The store business gradually expanded resulting in a branch store at Sourisford and later another at Lyleton.

The second year after settling here, he erecŽted a blacksmith shop which was occupied by difŽferent tenants until the advent of the railway. Mr. Blackwell also opened a repair harness shop and soon after Mr. Dodds removed his store from Wolsley resulting in quite a country village corner. Mr. Graham's car, consisting of two span of horses, household effects, store goods etc., arrived at BranŽdon June 1, 1883 at which point he had to team everything over roads that were beset with boggy and alkali spots and necessitating frequent unloading on the way out. Store goods were likewise freighted at Brandon until a road was opened to Virden but the last few years prior to the building of the Souris railway all merchandise was freighted at Deloraine the terminus of that branch at the time.

When the Souris railway was completed to this point Mr. Graham moved his stock to what was then popularly known as the new town, and contained one of the leading general store concerns until last June when he sold out to Mr. McJannet who now continues the business (1899). Mr. Graham was therefore exactly 15 years continuously in business in this district. In March 1884, Judge Walker made R. M. Graham of Manchester (the name then given to the corners) a conveyancer for the Province of Manitoba. In April the same year he was appointed a commissioner for taking affidavits. In September following, on strength of a petition circulated by James McConnell, Mr. Graham was appointed postmaster beginning with the magnificent salary of $10 per annum and the name Manchester was changed to Melita.

The first school district in the vicinity was formed in 1886 and Mr. Graham was trustee and secretary-treasurer of the first school. A school building was erected near the old Manchester corner. This building was reŽcently bought and converted into a dwelling by Mr. T. D. Sturgeon. Some years later when Melita had become a smart village and the people demanded larger school accommodation Mr. Graham was again elected on the school board and took a foremost part in some desirable plans, floating debentures and erecting the present up-to-date and commodious four room school, the most conspicuous building in our town. After removing the store goods to the new town Mr. Graham converted his combined store and dwelling into a tasty rural residence. Mr. Graham has in addition to his other pursuits brought his half section farm under a high state of cultivation pursuŽing his operation along the line of mixed farming which he has found to be the most advantageous method. He has shown more than ordinary taste in tree planting and otherwise making surroundings homelike and attractive. Mr. Graham's example in this respect could be followed to advantage by others. The mile and a quarter of maple hedge and park of various native deciduous trees, shrubs, plants and evergreens testifies to his success along these lines and shows what well directed effort and perseverance will accomplish in this almost treeless land. Mr. Graham has always taken an active part in educaŽtional, municipal and other matters of public interest pertaining to the will of this part of our province. In religion he is a member of the regular Baptist deŽnomination and took an active part in the erection of the new Baptist edifice that now graces our town. Since disposing of his store business Mr. Graham occupies his time supervising the work on his farm and attending to his post office duties together with odd jobs in conveyancing which he says is ample employment for one of his time of life.