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17. Pioneer Writing / John Williams July 19, 1899.

One of the earliest settlers of the Melita district and one whose long experience of the country has enabled him to form reliable opinions of its pos¬sibilities, is John Williams. Mr. Williams left his native home in Flintshire, Wales in the year 1881 and set out to seek his fortune in Canada. He at first located at Hamilton, Ontario, where he started with a capital of two hundred and a half. Not satisfied, however, with the prospects in Ontario he left in the fall of 1882 and came out to Manitoba settling on the section of land where he now resides — five miles south of the village of Melita. Mr. Williams enjoys the distinction of being the earliest living settler on what is popularly known as the Peninsula. His farm is beautifully located on the banks of the Souris and includes besides wheat land, an abundance of pas¬ture, wood and water. On his section of land he has already broken about 220 acres. Since making his home here Mr. Williams has always taken an active interest in the Agricultural Society and Farmers In¬stitute having been a director of the former for many years and President for three years. At present he is and has been for a number of years Secretary of the Farmers Institute and was at one time President. His impressions of the country are best told in his own words in the following communication:

"To the editor of the Progress: Complying with your request for a few of my experiences as one of the first settlers in this part of the province and my opinion as to the suitability as a place of settlement I would beg to offer the following: I arrived in Man¬itoba in November 1882 walking from Brandon to old Deloraine. The ground was covered with two or three inches of snow. Houses on the road were then few and far apart and accommodations very limited indeed. I struck Sourisford on December 16, 1882 having paid a man $5.00 per day and his expenses for driving me over there with one horse and a jumper from Deloraine. Next day I took a trip on the Penin-sula as far as 14-3-27, my present homestead. The only dwelling on the Peninsula in those days was a little shanty 8' x 10' belonging to the late F. B. Gerry which was burnt down in the conflagration of '86. I made entry for my homestead on January 19, 1883 and in the following spring I put in about ten acres of wheat, paying $1.25 for seed on breaking that some enterprising easterner had done in '82.

That crop was totally destroyed by hail on July 29th, pretty hard on a tenderfoot wasn't it? Hail has kindly and consistently given me the go by from that day to this. It would be tiresome to give the particu¬lars of every year that has gone by since. Suffice it is to say that my lot has been similar to that of the average settler. Ups and downs alternately with per¬haps the downs coming a little heavier if not oftener than the ups. The incomer of today can form no adequate idea of the hardships and privations that the people who came in the early '80's had to undergo. They travelled all sorts of conditions of roads to Brandon, Virden, Boissevain through the snow of winter and the mud of summer, but these pioneers had faith in the country then and what has transpired since shows that it was not misplaced. The names of a good many men occur to my mind whom I knew in the early days as men of very limited means but who are now well endowed with this world's goods. This goes to prove that a man who is able and willing to work and possesses a modicum of good sound horse sense may reasonably expect to get along in this part of the province at least.

That the land is productive does not admit of doubt. Wheat grown on some of my neighbours' farms has exceeded the mark of 40 bushels to the acre, my own has not gone higher than 38. A com¬parison between '82 and '99 shows that progress has been made on the narrow strip of land known as the Peninsula, though it is really an island Mr. Editor. The former years saw the first sod turned, the latter will probably see 30,000 bushels of wheat grown for export besides other grains. In '82 only one small shanty was seen on the territory in question, '99 can show 20 farm houses. Formerly in our peregrinations over the province we had to be guided by instinct, now we boast the straightest and best piece of road in the southwest. When it is remembered that it was not until 1891 that a railway came within a reasonable distance I think the showing made is very credible. It is expected that the near future will see greater and more improvements than the past, and that fortune is only beginning to smile on us. So note it be, we deserve all the smile she has to bestow."

John Williams