Melville as a Railway Hub
Charles Melville Hays was born at Rock Island, Illinois, USA on May 16, 1856. At the age of 17, he began working for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in St. Louis, Missouri. He became a secretary to the general manager of the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1878. After his time as a secretary he then was the General Manager for the Grand Trunk Railroad from 1896 – 1909, where he became President until his death in 1912. He married Clara Jennings Gregg in 1881 and together had four daughters. They then moved to Melville in 1909 and started the construction of the railway between Regina and Melville. He was a major part in the building of the City Hall Opera House because he believed it would be a great way to represent the growing community.
The Naming of Melville
Additionally, due to his role in making Melville a hub in the railway, his middle name became the basis for which our city was named. According to records from the late J. W. Redgwick, who also played an important entrepreneurial role in early Melville, claimed that, "there were several rumours about the name of the place - one name mentioned was Hayes, another Melhayes, and the name finally decided on by the Grant Trunk Pacific officials was the middle name of their president". The name was officially introduced and used instead of 'Killaly', in 1908.
The End of the Legacy
At the age of 55, Charles was one of the 1,503 people who died on the RMS Titanic in 1912. His wife and daughters were able to make it off of the ship alive and came back to Melville to continue his legacy. Charles is buried at Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.