Melita

(1891-Present) The community of Manchester became Melita when it moved to be beside the railway.

Stories

# The most successful of the Sourisford communities **1881 - Present** [[inline:right:manchester-melita]] Today Melita is the largest town in the Rural Municipality of Arthur. However, this was not always the case and in the early days of settlement it was not clear which service centres would thrive and flourish into important centers and which ones would not. [Sourisford](article=sourisford) was the first economic centre for settlers in the area. Situated beside the [Boundary Commission Trail](article=boundary-commission-trail) where it crossed the Souris River, Sourisford was not much more than a stopping place with a few services. As settlement spread northward from Sourisford, entrepreneurial homesteaders tried to establish and promote their own towns and villages, every one of which seemed “destined for success” and would become a “major centre” in the coming years of increased activity and settlement. Manchester was the only one of these villages to survive to the present. Souris City (or Sourisapolis) on the east bank of the river, was promoted and subdivided, but nothing was ever built there. Dobbyn City, established by John Dobbyn, got as far as establishing a post office nearby but was drowned by flood waters from the Souris River the following spring. ##Manchester Begins In 1881, homesteader Dr. Sinclair had a quarter section of his land on the west side of the Souris River surveyed as a townsite. The plan of subdivision was registered with the Souris River Registry office in March of 1882 and lots were sold to buyers as far away as Winnipeg. In ...

#A Midnight Crime Hits Southwest Manitoba . . . **September 1923** One night in late September 1923 the town of [Melita](article=manchester-melita) came to life with the pealing of the alarm bell in the middle of the night. As townsfolk stumbled onto the street to survey the scene, it was clear that it was already much too late to stop the robbery that had just taken place on Main Street. [[inline:left:northern-bank]] When a group of six to 10 bandits first entered the town in the very early hours of a Saturday morning, everything was silent. They headed first to the town's power station. There they bound and gagged the night engineer to prevent him from turning on the street lamps. Then they cut the telegraph and phone lines, leaving the town cut off from the rest of the world. ##Breaking In Breaking off the heavy lock on the front door, the group of robbers entered the Union Bank of Canada on Melita's Main Street. Without making an attempt at silence they began working at the vault door with a hammer and chisel. The racket woke up one of the bank tellers, E. W. McKerlie and his friend, Fred Watts, whose beds were directly above the vault. They called down to the people they heard below and received the reply that if they kept quiet they wouldn't be hurt. Spooked by the activities going on below, the two men ran downstairs and were escorted by an armed robber down the street who ...