History of Melfort
The current city of Melfort was preceded by a small community known as the Stoney Creek Settlement, started by founding settler Reginald Beatty, a Hudson Bay Company employee who settled with his family in the new North West. After squatting for a period near what is presently known as Birch Hills, Mr. Beatty desired to relocate near running water and in a better hunting area. During the summer of 1884, on the advice of Indian friends, Beatty and his family homesteaded on the banks of Stoney Creek. The Stoney Creek site was within an area whose agricultural potential may have been discovered as early as 1753 by French explorer Chevalier de la Corne, who reportedly experimented successfully with grain crops during his time in the Carrot River Valley Region.
For almost nine years the Beatty home remained prominent among the very few in the area; however, in 1892 a large number of families settled near the Beatty home and the Stoney Creek Settlement began to take shape - a community founded on agriculture and business enterprise.
Melfort's present city site was surveyed by the Canadian Northern Railway during July and August of 1902 by George Bartlett Bemister of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Mr. Bemister was assisted by Ed Crawford and Minn Guinn. Mrs. Reginald Beatty, the first woman of European descent to settle in the area, was asked by Malcolm Hugh McLeod, general manager of CNR, to name the community. She consented and christened the community 'Melfort' in honour of her family estate and town by the same name in Argylshire, Scotland.
The new town developed rapidly and furrows were ploughed for Main Street by late October. Having secured one of the first plots available, Ed Crawford erected Melfort's first structure in 1902 - a general store. The Clift Brothers, who in 1907 built the landmark Pioneer General store, would later purchase the site. Others soon followed with similar entrepreneurial enthusiasm and spirit.
Lured by the promise of rail access, numerous residents of the Stoney Creek settlement, which had been located approximately 2 km southeast of Melfort, relocated families and businesses alike to the newly established town site. Among them were many individuals who would greatly influence the course of Melfort's development.
Melfort was officially incorporated as a village in 1903. The promised rail reached the community in 1904, facilitating steady population growth. According to a census taken July 21, 1906, Melfort at the time was home to 448 residents. By 1907, Melfort's population was of sufficient number to justify its official incorporation as a town, which occurred on July 1 of that year, and became Saskatchewan's 12th city on September 2nd, 1980.