John Gale was born in England on April 17, 18311 and was in his 99th year when he died on 15 July 19292 at his home at 34 Lowe Street, Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia, having been publicly recognized as the ‘Father of Canberra’ and the oldest living journalist at his 95th birthday celebration at the Hotel Canberra, April 22, 1925.3
Six months after the March 10, 2001 unveiling of the large (1.25%) bronze sculpture to commemorate John Gale Father of Canberra,4 a controversy erupted in Queanbeyan when a Queanbeyan City Councillor, declared that John Gale was not the ‘Father of Canberra’ and insisted that the title ‘Father of Canberra’ belonged to Sir Austin Chapman.5
But Sir Austin Chapman MP had declared at the 1924 Canberra land sales:
“… if any man were entitled to be known as the Father of Canberra, it was veteran Queanbeyan journalist John Gale.”6
“The veteran politician, Sir Austin Chapman, no longer in office, reminded the audience that to Mr John Gale of Queanbeyan, belonged the credit for the original suggestion that Canberra should be the site of the capital.”7
PICTURE Right: The Father of Canberra – John Gale, stands again where he, as one of twelve men from the Queanbeyan District, presented evidence and testified to the New South Wales Commissioner Alexander Oliveron June 11, 1900, (in the old 1861 Queanbeyan Courthouse, corner of Lowe and Monaro Streets/Farrer Place)that Queanbeyan-Canberra was the best site for the Federal Capital City.
The twelve men who gave evidence on June 11, 1900 were: Messrs: John Gale, William Pike (Mayor), Theophilus Cox, Samson Southwell, John Fitzgerald, Frederick Campbell, Andrew J Cunningham, William Davis Wright, Doctors Patrick Blackall and Sidney Longden Richardson, William Farrer and Charles Unthank O’Hanlon.8
Charles Studdy Daley OBE wrote:
“John Galelived to see his vision realized, and he was invited to attend the opening of Parliament House at Canberra, on 9 May 1927, when he was presented to Their Royal Highnesses, theDuke and Duchess of York, alert and vital in his 97th year.
John Gale was a man of strict integrity, of unusual strength of character, of wide human understanding, with the experience of an exceptional long working life. He had earned the respect of his professional colleagues, and the affection of his community for his long and devoted service on its behalf.
With such qualities and record, who would wish to dispute his right to be acknowledged as TheFather of Canberra.”9
AK Murray, editor of Canberra’s Federal Pioneer Magazine, wrote:
“… Mr Gale is, first, the oldest living journalist in the English-speaking world; and secondly, by his persistent advocacy of Canberra as a site for a Capital City, has earned the title of ‘The Father of Canberra’.”10
Sir Austin Chapman told AK Murray:
“… Many are accredited wrongly with the initiation of the movement for its [Canberra's] establishment; but they cannot deny the author …[John Gale: Canberra Its History and Legends, 1928] the title of ‘The Father of Canberra’.”11
Hon Sir John Forrest, Federal Minister and WA Premier told AK Murray:
“… The late Sir John Forrest,representing Western Australia in those days, opposed the choice of Canberra; but when chosen he wrote and acknowledged that it was mainlyMr Gale’s famous pamphlet Dalgety or Canberra, Which? – a brochure published in 1907 and distributed to every member of the Commonwealth’s seven Parliaments, and amongst other prominent members of the community –that won the day for Canberra.”12
Reverend Ellis Thomas delivered the address prior to the burial service at John Gale’s graveside and said:
“… he [John Gale] was a notable figure in the town and district of Queanbeyan … and in the [NSW] State. As a citizen his interests were State wide, he represented the electors in Parliament, acted as coroner, was the Father of Canberra and an author. …
He was not a money maker. That was true, rather was he content to spend and be spent for the benefit of the community. His life on earth was ended, but this example and the influence of John Gale would remain. “13
‘Naming of Canberra’ ceremony, 1913: Article by John Gale, Queanbeyan Age journalist.
“… The writer [John Gale] who contributes this record of the historic proceedings of Wednesday last [12 March 1913] is in a position to speak from personal knowledge of most of the recommended sites, and from an extensive knowledge of the interior of the majority of the Australian States, has no hesitation in averring that Canberra stands unrivaled in respect to all the desiderata of a great nation’s Capital City.
Fifty-eight years ago he [John Gale in 1855] rode for the first time over the Canberra Plains. Approaching from the western slopes of the Black Mountain, and ascending the very site of Wednesday’s ceremonies, he well remembers reining in his horse, and (as it now appears) in a spirit of prophecy, gazing eastwards and southwards over the widespread undulating plains, intersected by the meandering Molonglo River, and having as a distant background the bold mountain outlines in the direction of Braidwood and Cooma, with the spurs of the Australian Alps westwards, exclaiming, ‘a magnificent site this for a great city in the future’.
Little did he [John Gale] reckon that in little more than half a century thence the very hill on which he uttered his soiloquy (sic) would be the spot where the commencement column of Federated Australia’s Capital City would be reared.”14
John Gale’s Vision:
Gale not only wrote about his 1855 vision, he continually told others that in 1855 he had sat on his horse on Kurrajong Hill and imagined an inland city on the Limestone Plains15 this same Kurrajong Hill is now known as Capital Hill and is the site of the present (opened 1982) Federal Parliament House, Canberra, Australia.16
“The late Mr Gale often referred to the occasion of his first seeing Canberra as far back as 1855. A scene of superb and spreading beauty met his gaze, prompting the thought, ‘What an ideal site for a great city of the future.’
Some half-century later that early mind picture led to his advocacy of Canberra as the site for the Federal Capital.”17
Labor Prime Minister Mr Christian Watson:
John Gale told Labor Prime Minister, Mr Christian Watson about his 1855 vision, on separate occasions when Watson visited Queanbeyan and was taken to see the proposed Canberra site during the Federal Parliament’s search for a Federal Capital site.18
John Gale was born in England in 1831 and was Coroner for the Australian Capital Territory, which included Canberra when he died in 1929.19
John Gale was the oldest Justice of the Peace in New South Wales (and perhaps in Australia) at the time of his death.20
Gale was in his 99th year when he died on 15 July 1929.21
“It was hard to find words to express their sympathy for the bereaved relatives of Mr. Gale who had been so long and honorably associated with the Queanbeyan Court and district activities”.22
Owner and project manager: HAPI Heritage-Culture Arts Promotions Incorporated PO Box 987, Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia. 2620.23
Project: This memorial is the first of the Twelve HAPI Apostles project, which celebrates twelve pioneers (six women and six men) representing twelve categories; with a man and a woman in six time spans of twenty years each representing 120 years of Queanbeyan districts history (1830-1950) which is Canberra’s history – before Canberra was proclaimed in 1913 and up to 1950 before the Liberal Prime Minister, Bob Menzies allocated the money and energy to grow Canberra.24
Sculptor: Melbourne based artist Peter Corlett has created many of the spectacular Australian War Memorial sculptures, such as ‘Simpson & His Donkey’ and ‘Weary Dunlop’. Peter Corlett was commissioned by HAPI Heritage-Culture Arts Promotions Incorporated to sculpt the Father of Canberra – John Gale Memorial.25
Foundry: Cast in bronze at the Meridian Foundry, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.26
Location: The Father of Canberra – John Gale Memorial is located at the Queanbeyan Courthouse (same site as the former 1861 and present 1976 Courthouses) on the corner of Lowe and Monaro Streets/Farrer Place, Queanbeyan, which is part of the Kings Highway – GPS location to come.27
Dedication: Reverend Konstantinos Kostakos, chairman of the HAPI Centenary of Federation committee gave the dedication speech, which included the following:28
… The Father of Canberra – John Gale Memorial commemorates Queanbeyan as the “Birthplace of Canberra” and stands as a reminder of the importance of individual and community initiatives in promoting and preserving Australian history and heritage.
The Father of Canberra – John Gale Memorial also commemorates the many unnamed residents of Queanbeyan & District for the part they played in the advocacy, selection and building of the National Capital Canberra.29
Unveiling: On 10 March 2001 the Father of Canberra – John Gale Memorial was unveiled by four students: Lauren Booth, Natasha Clugston, Graham Dean and Brad Thompson who represented Queanbeyan’s two High Schools: Karabar High and Queanbeyan High and by their youth represented our town’s motto: Faith in the future.30
Media coverage: Media details for the March 10, 2001 unveiling are listed.31 There will also be a page of photos on the dedication-unveiling in the future.
Footnotes / Resource:
1. The life of John Gale Father of Canberra, born England 1831; Australia 1854; Queanbeyan in 1860 when he founded the Golden Age newspaper, which name he changed to the Queanbeyan Age newspaper in 1864, is captured by Susan Mary Woolcock Withycombe in her (2001) book, “Gale Force – John Gale and the Siting of the National Capital”. The Gale family tree contains some information on Mary Hamlyn and Francis Gale (John Gale’s parents); information on John Wheatley and Philadelphia Ashby, parents of John Gale’s wife Lauanna (Note: “Lauanna, from baptismal record, also Lohanna and finally Loanna – names researched by Wendy Smith, great-great granddaughter of John Gale). The siblings of both families are also listed with some information (pages 120-126).
2. John Gale died on Monday, 15 July 1929; funeral-burial: Wednesday 17 July, 1929. At the old Cemetery (now named Riverside Cemetery Presbyterian Section; Funeral. (Queanbeyan Age, July 1929).
3. Gale said he was proud to be the “Father of Canberra” and the oldest living journalist at his 95th birthday celebration at the Hotel Canberra, April 22, 1925. (Queanbeyan Age, 24 April, 1924). John Gale’s actual birth date is April 17, 1831 (Qbn Age, July 1929).
4. The controversy over the John Gale Father of Canberra sculpture was political bile from Queanbeyan City Councillor’s John Wright and Frank Pangallo that erupted six months after the unveiling. The controversy has given the sculpture (and John Gale) the publicity he deserves and resulted in more research proving John Gale as the Father of Canberra.
5. This was Queanbeyan City Councillor’s John Wright and Mayor Pangallo supported John Gale publicly as the Father of Canberra at the Canberra Land Sales as quoted from “As I Recall” see footnote (6) below.
6. (i) The Canberra Times 11/07/1964; (ii) Daley, Charles Studdy. Shirley Purchase, (ed) As I Recall – Reminisences of Early Canberra: “The Father of Canberra: John Gale”. Canberra & District Historical Society, Canberra, 1994, p.13.
7. Daley, Charles Studdy. As I Recall: “First Auction in Canberra.” p.125. (Sir Austin Chapman (1864-1926).
8. PICTURE: (i) The 2001 picture of John Gale remains the property and Copyright/ Moral-right © of Connee-Colleen, use of the photo is subject to acknowledgement of the photographer Connee-Colleen and the web site. (ii) Withycombe (2001) Gale Force: The twelve men are cited on p.82; Errol Lea Scarlett only cites 10 in his book Queanbeyan District & People (1968) p.150.
9. (i) The Canberra Times 11/07/1964; (ii) Daley, Charles Studdy. As I Recall (1994)”The Father of Canberra: John Gale”.p.14. (iii) John Gale’s CV © 1996 revised 2011 will clarify why Daley spoke so glowingly of Gale when it is on this site.
10. Gale, John. Canberra Its History and Legends, Queanbeyan, 1991- Forewords by A.K. Murray, p.x.
11. (i) Gale, John. Canberra Its History and Legends, Queanbeyan, 1991 – Forewords by A.K. Murray, Eastlake FCT, March 26, 1927. p.x. (ii) Dalgety or Canberra Which? – John Gales famous booklet, that put Canberra back on the agenda, after a public meeting in Queanbeyan as the preferred capital site in 1907.
12. Gale, John. Canberra Its History and Legends, Queanbeyan, 1991 - Forewords by A.K. Murray, p.xi.
13. (i) The Queanbeyan Age: “Mr John Gale – Veteran Journalist – Death in 99th Year“; “The Funeral” Wednesday 17 July 1929. (ii) NSW State: New South Wales.
14. John Gale, “Naming of Canberra March 13, 1913″. (The Queanbeyan Age, March 15, 1913).
15. “Gale not only wrote about his 1855 vision, he continually told others“: There are many newspaper references of this fact, dating from the 1800s, which will be documented; (ii) Gale also mentions this in his book, Canberra It’s History and Legends: Part One: “Canberra: First Acquaintance with Canberra”, 1927. p.5.
16. New Parliament House opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth (1982).
17. The Queanbeyan Age: “Mr John Gale – Veteran Journalist – Death in 99th Year”, July 1929 (Gale was actually 98 years and three months).
18. Watson’s reference to Gale is quoted in a newspaper that has been misplaced.
19. The Queanbeyan Age: “Mr John Gale – Veteran Journalist – Death in 99th Year.” July 1929.
20. Ibid. “The Funeral.” July 1929.
21. Although in his 99th year John Gale was actually 98 years and three months old. He was neither 99 years old nor 100 years old even though both dates and ages are often mentioned. It was a common expression to acknowledge the year you were in: “Gale’s 99th year” when you are old or when a child is first born.
22. The Queanbeyan Age: “QBN Court’s Sympathy”, by PM (Police Magistrate), July 1929.
23. HAPI Heritage-culture Arts Promotions Incorporated: owner and advocacy: The Father of Canberra – John Gale Memorial was commissioned by and is owned by HAPI Heritage-culture Arts Promotions Incorporated a community based, “Charitable Institution” under the Australian Federal Government, cultural sector. HAPI was incorporated/registered in 1996; and offers Tax-deductible concession for gifts of $2 or more; HAPI also has an ABN number; Postal address: HAPI, PO Box 987, Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia. 2620.
24. Growing Canberra – this information is to be expanded.
25. Artist: Melbourne artist, Peter Corlett was the sculptor of the Father of Canberra John Gale sculpture; Corlett has created many sculptures around Australia including: The famous horse, ‘Pharlap’ in Melbourne; The Australian War Memorial sculptures in Canberra, ‘Simpson & His Donkey’ and ‘Weary Dunlop’ (located outside the front of the War Memorial) and many others. A page will be constructed dedicated to Peter Corlett.
26. Foundry: The ‘Father of Canberra’ bronze was cast at Meridian Foundry, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
27. The John Gale – Father of Canberra, commemorative/ sculpture is located on the same site as the former 1861 Queanbeyan Courthouse, corner of Farrer Place, Monaro /Lowe Streets, Queanbeyan, 2620, where John Gale gave evidence in 1901 that Queanbeyan-Canberra should be the Federal Capital site; Demolition of the old 1861 Courthouse was approved amongst controversy in 1970 and was demolished in 1976.
28. Reverend Konstantinos Kostakos is the Parish Priest at St Demetrios, Greek Orthodox Church Queanbeyan and was a member of Heritage-culture Arts Promotions Incorporation (HAPI) Twelve HAPI Apostles committee from 2000-2008. (Records: Twelve HAPI Apostles Sculpture Project, PO Box 987, Queanbeyan, 2620).
29. Full text of dedication speech will be included on the page detailing the unveiling.
30. Unveiling: On 10 March 2001 the Father of Canberra – John Gale Memorial was unveiled by four students: Lauren Booth, Natasha Clugston, Graham Dean and Brad Thompson who represented Queanbeyan’s two High Schools: Karabar and Queanbeyan High and by their youth represented our town’s motto: Faith in the future.
31. Memorial unveiling: TV coverage and newspaper coverage: (1) Television: WIN News, Monday March 12, 2001. (2) The Canberra Times, “Bell tolls, at last, for Gale”, Monday March 12, 2001–p. 3. (3) The Chronicle, “The John Gale Memorial statue”, Tuesday March 13, 2001–p.3. (4) The Queanbeyan Age, Monday March 12, 2001: (4-i) “Gale stands again–hundreds of people watch as sculpture is unveiled”– p.1; (4-ii) “Gale editor and Pioneer”–p.2; (4-iii) “Fond Memories”–p.3; (4-iv) “This is the first of 12 apostles”–p.3; (4-v) “This is your life”–p.3.
Copyright: All content on Before Canberra Copyright © Connee-Colleen unless otherwise noted – apologies extended if inadvertently a copyright has not been acknowledged – please inform so this can be rectified.
More pages to come:
1. John Gale – CV
2. Commissioning a sculpture
3. The unveiling of the sculpture of John Gale
4. Queanbeyan Birthplace of Canberra
5. Queanbeyan Gateway to Canberra
6. Queanbeyan & Canberra Symbiosis