Page:History of West Australia.djvu/642

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232
WEST AUSTRALIA.


wishes of ratepayers, and, being daily brought in contact with them, they are always en rapport with their requirements and wishes. Less room is left for dissatisfaction and for cavil, and the representative can hardly fairly be accused of being "out of touch" with his constituency.

Ratepayers are supposed to choose the most suitable among themselves to represent their interests round the civic table. It is the vote of interest and property; and thus the civic body deliberates, and each councillor represents the wishes of those who elect him. Councillors retire in rotation, and here also a great point is gained.

Perth, as the chief municipality in the colony, gives a greater importance to her representatives. They are the civic fathers of the colony. It is a strong body, and contains good men. Among them is Councillor Alfred F. Lee. A native of the colony, Mr. Lee has had a long connection with Perth. He has materially helped in its growth and increase of stature, and justly, therefore, watches paternally over its interest in the council.

Alfred Frederick Lee was born at Toodyay in 1860. The name Toodyay has since been superseded by Newcastle. Mr. Alfred Lee, father of the present councillor, came to the colony in connection with the Imperial Service as a commissariat officer. He held this post for twenty-one years, and now enjoys in retirement an Imperial pension. Alfred was educated first at Mr. M. O'Callaghan's Fremantle Catholic Boys' School, whence he went to the Government School at Fremantle. When sixteen years old he was apprenticed in Perth to learn carpentery and joinery, under Mr. J. A. Halliday. He duly became a journeyman, and for two years followed this avocation. At the end of that period he entered business on his own account as contractor and builder. The first contract he engaged in was the making of additions and improvements to the Legislative Council refreshment rooms. Those were the beginning of prosperous days for him, and thenceforward for many years he was one of the largest building contractors in the colony. One large contract followed another, and he erected some prominent buildings in Perth. He erected the well-known Sandover Buildings, the property in Hay Street owned by Mr. Alexander, M.L.A. and those structures extending from the corner of Hay Street, in Barrack Street, nearly half-way down the thoroughfare towards the railway. Out of these he was able to make big profits, and, with other contracts, he was very active for some years. Finally, Messrs. Connor and Quinlan (now a councillor of Perth) placed the management of the Victoria Hotel in Fremantle, in his hands. Supervising this, and undertaking some small contracts, twelve months passed. Then he took over the Grand Hotel in Perth. Within two years he made such a success of this that he retired. Since that time (1895) he has not taken an active part in business pursuits beyond the erection of cottages on his own city property.

Early in 1895 Mr. Lee was elected by the ratepayers of the East Ward, Perth, to represent them in the City Council. He was opposed by Messrs. H. Baker and Jno. Elliott, and polled the largest number of votes ever recorded by a single member in that ward. This proved that he possessed the full confidence of ratepayers, who reckoned that he would conscientiously watch over their interests. He has fulfilled all his pledges where possible, and has been able to confer benefits on Perth. Knowing so much of the city, he is in a position to speak with knowledge on all matters which came up for deliberation, and the least that can be said of his civic career is that he has given every satisfaction, and satisfied all anticipations made at his entrance.

Among other positions which Councillor Lee holds in Perth, he is a trustee of the H.A.C. Society, and a member of the Irish National Foresters. He was married in 1892 to a daughter of Mr. Richard McCorry, an officer attached to the Imperial forces stationed at Northam, and a Crimean veteran. Councillor Lee is a fluent speaker. Quick-witted, he rapidly grasps a subject, and makes up his mind and speaks on the matter with effect. Ratepayers of the Ward have no reason to be dissatisfied with his municipal career, which they hope will be an extended one. He has numerous friends in Perth who admire good qualities.



JOHN WILSON, J.P.

FIRST MAYOR OF KALGOORLIE.

IT was not surprising to hear that London capitalists and investors fairly lionised Mr. Wilson on his recent visit to England. His youth and abilities attracted notable men at home. Reports, fired from the loaded "Maxims" of enthusiasm, spread amid an admiring crew that Mr. Wilson was the youngest mayor in the world. Discussion became rife, bets exchanged, and reference books consulted to prove the affirmative or confute the negative. The press, reflecting the spirit of the moment, gave the matter publicity, and soon innocent Mayor Wilson became an object of novelty and curious concern. Though his right to that title cannot be upheld, owing to the existence of a younger mayor in Australia, still, if we take into full consideration the conditions and general surroundings of Mr. Wilson's early life, we are forced to admit, if not priority in age, then certainly priority in esteem.

Mr. Wilson was born on 10th September, 1867, on Totara Plains, near Oamaru, Otago, New Zealand. It was never his fortune to receive either an elementary or a secondary education. Yet he schooled himself in the lessons of the world. His mind digested every scrap of information of probable utility. His daily tutors were the great environing forces of nature; his hourly preceptors were his own observant mental powers, attracting to their fresh pasture-land the nourishing dews of knowledge. Like many another, he was self-taught. At an early age he joined the Electric Telegraph Department in the New Zealand Government service and was soon made an operator. Its narrow limits and close confinement, however, became unbearable. Longing for the free fresh air of heaven on distant moors, he set out for a sheep station near Gisborne, Hawkes Bay district. There for eighteen months young Wilson revelled amid the liberties of individual control. Various pursuits, from wire-fencing to bush-contracting, were engaged in. His energies and skill seemed to fly forth to every handicraft and every profession. In him the proverb, "What thy hand findest to do, do well," found exemplification by practical exercise. Of a reflective turn of mind, the solitary surroundings could not but incite his imagination to dream heavily of nature, himself, and their relation. Metaphysical reveries gave him the stimulus to work and develop his higher faculties. How often have men of world-wide fame turned from the rural bliss of simplicity, with all its natural reactions on the human mind, to the halls of science and learning! History always repeats itself, and Wilson, like many another historic nature, forsook communion with nature on