Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Cameron, Ewen Hugh (1831–1915)

by Louis R. Cranfield

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Ewen Hugh Cameron (1831-1915), farmer and politician, was born on 24 July 1831 at Kilmonivaig, Inverness, Scotland, son of Donald Cameron, farmer, and his wife Ann. He migrated to Melbourne in the Hurricane in 1853, and engaged in the building industry before going to the newly-opened Anderson Creek goldfield in 1855. The diggings proved unprofitable and Cameron had to take contracts as well as mine his own claim. He was appointed first postmaster at Warrandyte in January 1857 and ran a store; in 1860 he took up a hundred-acre (40 ha) farm at Kangaroo Ground.

In 1874 Cameron was returned for Evelyn to the Victorian Legislative Assembly; he held the seat continuously until 1914 when, as 'Father of the House', he retired. He entered parliament at a difficult time; he stoutly opposed the reform movement led by Graham Berry and was often in strife with his electors; but in the elections of 1877 he easily defeated the Berry candidate. Cameron was minister of mines in the Irvine government of 1902 and health in the Bent ministry of 1904. In 1877 he served in a royal commission on the Aboriginals and in 1881 as chairman of a board of inquiry into the Coranderrk station he did much to rectify conditions there. More notably he was chairman of the Railways Standing Committee. Much of the development in Victorian railways at that time was due to his untiring work.

Though Cameron was not eloquent and therefore never seriously considered for premier, his sincerity enabled him to keep out of factional squabbles and won him unusually high respect in the assembly. For fifty-two years he represented St Andrews on the Castlemaine Mining Board and for more than fifty years was a member of the Eltham Roads Board (later Shire Council); his tenure of both positions was never contested, a record probably unequalled in public life in Australia. In 1867 he married Agnes, eldest daughter of John Bell, a farmer at Kangaroo Ground; they had eight sons and three daughters. Cameron died at Kangaroo Ground on 27 September 1915.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Sutherland et al, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melb, 1888)
  • J. Smith (ed), The Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • Weekly Times (Melbourne), 24 Nov 1900, 9 Jan 1909
  • Argus (Melbourne), 28 Sept 1915.

Citation details

Louis R. Cranfield, 'Cameron, Ewen Hugh (1831–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cameron-ewen-hugh-3149/text4699, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 17 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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