Mr George Edward Graham was born 11 June 1873 on a farm near St. Mary's, Ontario. He was the 6th of seven brothers and at 17 went to work as a clerk at a hardware store.
He worked as a salesman in Galt, then moved to Toronto in 1903 where he joined the Canadian department store chain, Eaton's. He married Edith May Jackson, from Harriston, in 1905 and they were active in the Methodist Church - two of Graham's brothers were Methodist ministers. When Eaton's opened a store in Winnipeg in 1906 Graham was transferred to Manitoba to head its crockery and fine china division.
In 1908, the Grahams had a son, John Humphrey, but he died in January 1911, and was buried in St. Mary's cemetery. Shortly after his death, Edith suffered a miscarriage. Graham was reluctant to leave his wife alone, but dispatched on a buying trip to England, Belgium and Austria. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 112053, £30) occupying cabin B-42. He was with a group of travelling salesmen who dined together and who autographed a menu as a souvenir.
While he was abroad, Graham's wife went to visit her parents in Harriston, and upon her husband's return was to meet him at his brother's house at 240 Dufferin St. in Toronto. At 6 p.m. on the night of the sinking, Graham dropped into the wireless room of the Titanic and sent his wife a marconigram: "New York Wednesday Morning, Wire Me Sandy Hook. Well." At the time Mrs Graham was on a train bound for Toronto, and when she arrived Tuesday Morning to hear the news of the sinking, she was relieved to get the telegram. She of, course, had no way of knowing it had been sent before the ship went down.
On April 18, The Saint Mary's Journal reported Graham's name was thought to be among the list of those saved, "but the uncertainty is causing the greatest anxiety to his relatives here and great concern is felt by the whole community. The Eaton Company , which has sent a man to New York to get particulars, reported Tuesday that George's name was on the White Star Co.'s of the saved passengers...it is earnestly hoped that the report will be confirmed."
Edith was about to leave for New York to meet her husband when she was officially informed he was lost in the sinking. His body was recovered by the MacKay Bennett (#147).
NO. 147 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE 45
CLOTHING - Black overcoat; blue serge suit.
EFFECTS - Memo book; cheque for $300.00; pocket book; credit book, T. Eaton & Co.; silver pencil case; fountain pen; pencil case; keys; gold watch; fob and locket; 7 shillings and 3 pence; $105.00; 2 pocket knives; 1 gold collar button.
NAME - Geo. E. Graham. 91 Dundurn Place
There were two funerals for Mr Graham, one at the Broadway Tabernacle in Toronto, and another at Harriston. The St. Mary's Journal of 7 May 1912 carried the following story:
LAID AT REST:
Funeral of the Late George E. Graham.
One of the largest funerals ever witnessed at Harriston was held on Saturday upon the arrival of a special train from Toronto, bringing the remains of Mr George Graham. The train was made up of five coaches, including The Eatonia, the private car of the company president, Mr J. C. Eaton. It arrived at the CPR depot at 11 a.m. and from which the remains were conveyed to the Methodist Church, where services were conducted, after which the remains were taken to the Harriston cemetery. The floral tributes were beautiful and required special conveyances. All business in the town was suspended and the town flag was at half mast.
In Winnipeg, a memorial plaque to Graham was unveiled in city hall, and the street that borders the south side of Eaton's store in downtown Winnipeg was re-named Graham in his memory. Edith Graham never remarried, and when she died on January 31, 1960, she wished to be buried beside her infant son in St. Mary's Cemetery. At the same time, the Graham family had George's body exhumed from the cemetery in Harriston, and it was re-interred with his wife's in St. Mary's.