Manitoba Historical Society
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Manitoba History: The Naming of a Town - Melita

by Rosemary Malaher

Manitoba History, Number 19, Spring 1990

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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The story of the name of the town of Melita has particular interest for Melita L. O’Hara of Seattle, Washington. She admits to having a heated argument with the daughter of the first postmaster. That lady told of her father’s meeting with the founders of the town to fill in the post office contract. The gentlemen turned to the King James Version of the Bible, and found in Acts, Chapter 28: “After we had escaped, we then learned that the island was called Melita.” Rudnyckyj, in Manitoba Mosaic of Place Names, adds that this was the ancient name of the island of Malta.

Mrs. O’Hara has another story. Her great uncle was Joseph Cauchon, Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba from 1877 to 1882. He is said to have named the town for his God-child and niece, Melita Roche of Quebec City. In the discussion with the postmaster’s daughter, Mrs. O’Hara offered the explanation that, since her great-uncle was Lieutenant-Governor, possibly the request for the name was channelled through his office. The chosen name being that of his young relative, it naturally would have met with his approval. Thereafter, each of the parties took credit for the naming of the town.

As the reader might surmise, Mrs. O’Hara was given her mother’s name.

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