In Memorium - Harriet Jane Barber Graham

by Lillian Gibbons

Manitoba Pageant, April 1962, Volume 7, Number 3

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant 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 As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Died February 6, 1962.

Mrs. Graham always referred to her home as "99". It was 99 Euclid Avenue where she was born 99 years ago. The Point Douglas house still stands, the oldest inhabited house in Winnipeg. She and her son, James B. Barber, asked the province to consider turning it into a museum when the Disraeli Bridge was built thereby calling wide attention to the oldest settled district in the city.

Her father, Edmund Lorenzo Barber, a Connecticut Yankee, named Disraeli Street, "just because he was reading a novel by Benjamin Disraeli - Sybil. He came from a publishing family in New Haven. When he was fifteen, he was peddling books in 'Muddy York'," Mrs. Graham often told me. In the early 1870s he revived the old Nor'Wester newspaper; "the office was where the Corona Hotel is now."

Among the Barber Papers, given to the Manitoba Archives by her and her son, are appeals to Edmund by his sister Jenny to come home. "Do you remember ... " she fills her pages with; stories of the printing press, his turning the handle when he was eight years old. Eight bushel baskets of old letters and documents were carted out of the house in 1960 by Archivist, Hart Bowsfield, and Provincial Librarian, Marjorie Morley. "A copy of the deed of 1825 made between the Selkirk estate and Robert Logan, selling him 100 acres, the old grist mill and what was left of Fort Douglas, for 1400, was one thing we found," said Mrs. Graham's only son.

Robert Logan was Mrs. Graham's grandfather: his twelfth child, Barbara, born in 1834, became Edmund's wife in 1862. Harriet Jane was born January 12, 1863.

E. L. Barber, age 26, arrived in Red River in 1860, receiver for trade goods his cousin forwarded from Breckenridge, Minn. He found a log shanty called 'Kylne's Place' and added to it several times. Today it is 99 Euclid Avenue.

As for Robert Logan, fur trader, he came in 1819 and was governor of the Settlement while Alexander Macdonell went home to Scotland. A letter written to Robert Logan by the fifth Earl of Selkirk is in the possession of his grandson, Alexander 'Sandy' Logan, aged 90, living now at the Nightingale Nursing Home.

So it goes, back and back, to sources and originals - the Graham-Barber-Logan story. Some of it became a fictionalized history by E. B. Osler in his Light in the Wilderness.

Mrs. Graham misses the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Selkirk Settlement, which will be celebrated this summer but she made her contribution to history almost daily. Somebody was always looking her up, asking questions. She never refused an interview. It kept her memory fresh, talking about the green past, but she never forced it. I asked her once if Harriet Street was named for her. She replied, "It's my name but it wasn't for me. Nor was Lily for my sister." It was for Lily Logan. "Papa did name Euclid for a street in Cleveland he liked and Barber for himself, and Stella for a girl in St. Cloud, Minnesota."

Mrs. Graham had vivid memories of Dr. John Schultz. "He was a big, red-headed fellow. He was always at 99. When Riel arrested him, his wife stayed at 99. When I was seven, I was tucked into a sleigh under fur robes. If any-body stopped us the driver was to say this is Mr. Barber's daughter. Hidden under the robes was Mrs. Schultz, a tiny little thing herself. We went to Kildonan manse. Dr. Schultz was hiding there. He carried me upstairs to bed. I was wrapped in blankets but I didn't sleep. I looked out the window and saw a wounded man being carried in.

This was young John Sutherland, shot by Parisien, when the volunteers were waiting to attack Fort Garry. This was February, 1870. Louis Riel was in power, but he never touched Papa because Papa was a Yankee."

Harriet Jane Graham's biggest moment was in October 1956 when she sat beside the tenth Earl of Selkirk at a Kiwanis Club luncheon in the Royal Alexandra Hotel, chatting with him about his ancestors and hers, owners of this same Point Douglas.

Page revised: 1 July 2009