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Memorable Manitobans: Colwell Esson “Charlie” Graham (1886-1959)

Grain merchant, farmer, municipal official.

Born at Whitfield, Dufferin County, Ontario in 1886, he finished school at Hamilton in 1903 and became a banker at Molson’s Bank. He transferred to a Winnipeg bank in 1905 on the request of his father who saw this move as a way to extend the interests of the Graham Brothers, a canned goods firm in Hamilton. Graham left banking in 1913 to pursue a career in the grain business. He initially joined the firm of Blackburn and Mills as office manager, becoming partner within three years. By 1924, he was employed with Melady Bellers where he eventually became managing director in 1930. He held this position until resigning in 1945.

A man of varied interest, he farmed six sections of land in the Elm Creek district and was an active citizen in his community, serving on Winnipeg City Council (1946 to 1951) and the Winnipeg School Board. He was also Vice-President of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and a Sunday School Superintendent.

On 19 June 1912, he married Margaret Elizabeth McClain (1889-1947, daughter of Samuel McClain) at Carman. They had three children. In the Second World War, he served as rural chairman of Victory Loan campaigns and Manitoba commissioner for placement of Japanese. A past master of the Northern Light and Scottish Rite of the Masonic Order, he also belonged to the Carleton Club, Winnipeg Winter Club, and Southwood Country Club.

He died at Winnipeg on 16 August 1959 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.


“Mrs. C. Graham, social workers, dies at 57,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 January 1947, page 3.

“Alderman and farmer,” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 October 1948. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 57]

“Former Alderman, Trustee, C. E. Graham dies at 73,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 August 1959, page 33.

This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 25 February 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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