|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
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
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.