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Land Titles Excerpts by A. B. Estlin

The year 1882 was a year of wonderful developŽment for the whole province and particularly for the southwest. The fame of the Antler district with its splendid land, wood and water, had spread far and wide and settlers flocked in.

The Dominion Government had opened a Land Office near the Commission Trail in the summer of 1880 with George F. Newcombe as agent, and a Mr. Wood as assistant. They were succeeded by W. H. Stevens in 1883, and by J. A. Hayes in 1887 and John Flesher in 1889.

Guides were appointed to help locate the new settlers, some of whom had entered for their claims "unsight and unseen", as the saying then was. These had to be shown where their claims were, while others had to choose them from the list of available land supplied by the agent. This choice was faciliŽtated to a surprising degree, by a judicial transfer of small oblong pieces of dark green paper to the hands of some of the guides.

A store, blacksmith shop and boarding house, and later on a flour mill, were located a mile or two north of the Land Office and the village of Old Deloraine was started. These buildings were moved a few miles north and west to the present town of Deloraine, when the Canadian Pacific Railway line was built to that point in November 1886.

The Provincial Government also located a Land Registration Office for the County of Souris River on January 1,1882 in Old Deloraine, with A. P. Stuart as Registrar. Mr. Stuart, in partnership with James Caverly - afterwards Postmaster, opened the first store, which was carried on for many years under the title of .-rs and Stuart. Mr. Stuart later opened a bank and insurance office, also bought scrip, and did a large loaning business. His two brothers joined him, one a lawyer, who practiced for several years. Both the brothers died, and A. P. Stuart moved to Montreal where he went into the grain business and died.

The Dominion Land Office was moved to Minnedosa some ten years later and finally transferred to Winnipeg. Mr. John Flesher, a highly respected and courteous official who was agent at the time, retained the appointment but died a short time after the reŽmoval of the office to Winnipeg.

The writer is greatly indebted to the goverment for appointing Mr. Flesher, as he moved his family to Deloraine in 1899 and one of his daughters became the writer's wife.

Now to return to Sourisford. Alfred Gould and David Elliott, had now built a house and barn and land seekers were increasing in numbers. Being at the crossing of the river and near the Commission Trail, this soon became a regular "stopping place". It was also a depot for mail before the Post Office was established.

Now a few words about Gould and Elliotts. Many a traveller, often weary, and his animals fagged out, sighed with relief on reaching this haven. The stables were warm and comfortable for the animals, while in the house the traveller got the best food circumŽstances would allow, well cooked and plentiful at a very moderate price, considering the distance from the source of supply.

On July 6th, 1883, by Order in Council of the Provincial Government (The Honourable Norquay in the Chair), the Registrar's Office for the Electoral Division of Souris River was removed from DeloŽraine to the "town of Souris", on the NW 26-2-27. This is the embryo town spoken of before as Souris City. Mr. J. P. Alexander who had succeeded Mr. A. P. Stuart as Registrar built a house and office on the townsite and took up his abode there with his family. His was the only house to be built, and it was reŽmoved to NW 34-2-27 a few years after, when Mr. Alexander obtained this quarter section as a homeŽstead. The office was moved again to NW 2-3-27 in 1886 when Mr. Alexander resigned to contest the seat in the Provincial Legislature and J. L. Campbell  succeeded him as Registrar, and again in March 1891 when it came to its present location in the Town of Melita, Section 1-4-27. Both Mr. Alexander and Mr. Campbell were public spirited men, and did a great deal toward the development of the district.