Our Heritage  People / We Made Melita

We Made Melita

Pioneer

Farmer W.T. Brockinton

 

 



Mr. W. T. BROCKINTON was a graduate of the Oxford University in England. He quit a position as an auditor for The Birmington Railway to come to Canada. He arrived a Woodstock, Ontario in the fall of 1881 with his wife and two children.

They stayed that winter and met up with a group of young men who persuaded them to join their party which was going west to homestead in Manitoba. They picked their homesteads from a Homestead Map in Woodstock and arrived at Brandon in the spring of 1882. At that time that was as far as the railway had got. After stopping in Brandon to get organized and get supplies they started out to travel with oxen to find their homesteads which were in Township Two, Range 28, southeast of where Pierson was later located.

Then they had about another 90 miles to go across country with only old Indian trails to follow. They went up past the sand hills at Lauder and then along the Souris River's west bank up to and past where Melita is now, on south along the River for another ten metres or so and then west about eight miles to
where their homesteads were located. 

So after arriving and locating their respective homesteads they set up their tents and went to work to build, some with sod shanties and Mr. Brockinton with a lumber shanty which was much colder.

The first winter all the young men left their homesteads and went back to Ontario for the winter.

It must have been quite an ordeal for people used to old England to winter alone. During February, with food supplies getting low, Mr. Brockinton took his oxen and drove about ten miles across the prairie to Mr. Dave Elliott's at Sourisford where he had been told he might be able to buy a bag of potatoes. Arriving there alright he got his potatoes O.K. when
a blizzard came up, but cleared up by ten o'clock with a bright moonlight night. Mr. Elliott wanted Mr. Brockinton to stay till morning but Mr. Brockinton said much as he would like to he thought that as he had a wife and two children out on the prairie he had better start out. With the oxen plodding along Mr. Brockinton got colder and colder and then got feeling
sleepy. He remembered reading that that was the last feeling one got before freezing to death, so he got out to walk but was so stiff that he had to hook one arm around the back of the sleigh and get dragged along for 50 yards until he could walk. He finally got home with his bag of frozen potatoes.

During the summer each one of about the six homesteaders took turns every two weeks going to Brandon, which was 100 miles, via oxen, to get their mail and supplies. This was about a seven day, very trying, trip, what with mosquitoes, etc. It was a very unpleasant experience.

He said if it hadn't been for the beaver-cut drift wood that he was able to get they could easily have frozen to death as one morning it was 20 below zero in their wood shanty.

The second summer he was able to get a second homestead pre-emption on the NE 10-3-27 on the river flats where there was plenty of wood. He dug into the north bank of a ravine and by sodding up the sides he built a warm place to winter. He spent six months homestead duties there and six months on the
other homestead quarter. In 1895, he had a stone house built on 10-3-27 which is still standing today. He later bought W 11-3-27.

Mr. Brockinton was a very good violinist and taught music to the family and others who wished to learn the violin. Mr. and Mrs. Brockinton continued to live on their farm until their deaths. Mrs. Brockinton died in November of 1924 and Mr. Brockinton died in September of 1933 at 83 years of age.

Adapted from Our First Century, page 363, 444.


 

Brandon Sun Weekly Oct. 2, 1884


Our Heritage  People / We Made Melita