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Rose, George Canler (1861–1959)

by A. C. Staples

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

This is a shared entry with Edwin Rose

George Canler Rose (1861-1959) and Edwin Rose (1863-1948), pastoralists, were born on 1 February 1861 and 12 December 1863 at Parkfield estate, Australind, Western Australia, third and fifth sons of Robert Henry Rose and his wife Ann Bishop (d.1864), née Allnutt. Robert Rose had five sons by his first wife and four by his second, Elizabeth, née Teede, whom he married in 1865. All eight surviving sons were active in 1880-1915 in the several local varieties of pastoralism: initially farming and grazing in the Wellington district and grazing in the Nelson district in the winter rainfall region, but principally grazing sheep and cattle in the tropical Kimberley in association with Alexander Forrest.

George and Edwin, with their brothers, received their primary schooling on the Parkfield estate, after which they and most of the others spent a year at the High (Hale) School, Perth, or Fremantle Grammar School. Their earliest farming experience was at Parkfield, over 11,000 acres (4452 ha) freehold and 20,000 acres (8094 ha) of annual crown leasehold, which produced cattle for the Perth beef market and, from highly-bred cows, large quantities of butter, salted for shipment to Fremantle.

Before the expansion into the Kimberley R. H. Rose senior in 1881 bought for his eldest son Robert Henry (1858-1900) the nearby Roelands estate of J. S. Roe. There Robert, and after his death his wife and sons, extended his father's farming and grazing enterprises with champion dairy cows and beef cattle, sending the produce to the Perth market or to the adjacent timber-mills and the coalfield.

George led his brothers into the Kimberley. He had worked briefly as a clerk for the West Australian Bank at Bunbury before becoming manager of the large Prinsep Park estate of H. W. Venn near Bunbury. His neighbour Alexander Forrest, acting as agent for English financier J. A. Game, was negotiating the lease of Yeeda station at the mouth of Fitzroy River and in 1882 chose George as Game's manager. At 21 George took charge of nine employees, 2000 sheep and some cattle and horses which he shipped north to Beagle Bay, considered a safer landing-place than the unknown King's Sound. On the arduous journey inland Forrest followed with his Kimberley Pastoral Co. party, via Broome. Forrest pushed ahead and installed George as Yeeda's manager in April 1883. He soon shipped the first northern cattle to Forrest in Perth.

In 1885 George leased Mount Anderson, sixty miles (97 km) east along the Fitzroy, where he was joined by his elder brother John Charles (1859-1940), who had been working as a clerk at York. George eventually leased the adjoining Lower Liveringa, to make up 300,000 acres (121,407 ha), pasturing a few cattle and usually 8000 sheep (24,000 in an excellent season). When Edwin arrived that year, George encouraged him and Charles to select and develop Kimberley Downs on the Lennard River and Cherrabun to the south-east. When his half-brother Augustus Frederick (Gus) (1870-1910) arrived in 1891 he joined Edwin on a new station, Quanbun Downs. George and Charles returned south to a more comfortable life, leaving Mount Anderson to Edwin and the new stations to managers. George's return to Parkfield in 1893 enabled Percival (1872-1935) to join the Kimberley Pastoral Co. at Liveringa, where he became manager in 1895.

On 20 March 1901 at St Paul's, Bunbury, George married his step-mother's niece, Edith Bertha Clarke. He sold Parkfield in 1912, taking as part payment The Grange, a mansion at Claremont, Perth. One son, George Canler (Canny), took over Mount Anderson, and Kimberley (Kim) succeeded his uncle as manager of Liveringa in 1912.

Edwin married Janet Louisa Clarke, George's sister-in-law, at St Paul's Anglican Church, Bunbury, on 14 October 1902. Disposing of his North-West interests he bought a large farming estate, Wedderburn Park, at Brunswick, stocked it with a fine herd, built a large mansion and adopted the style of the retired squatter. In 1915 he moved to another mansion, Bury Hill, at Bunbury. He was president of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1917-20, a member of the first State veterinary board and, with George, a director of South West Co-operative Dairy Farmers Ltd and chairman for ten years. Elected as Liberal member of the Legislative Council for the South-West Province in 1916, he was a strong advocate of the region's interests, and of decentralization, until he retired in 1934. He died at Bunbury on 11 January 1948 and was buried in the local cemetery.

The twelve or so years Kimberley interlude for each brother, spanning a thirty-five year period, provided a stimulus to tropical pastoral development and, for the Roses, personal funds—shares and partnerships—for second careers averaging forty years. Those with rural interests sat on local road boards and the district and Royal Agricultural Society committees.

George Rose died at Claremont on 7 March 1959 and was cremated. His wife, two sons and four of his five daughters survived him. He had become one of the legendary pioneers of the Kimberley.

Select Bibliography

  • W. B. Kimberly (compiler), History of West Australia (Melb, 1897)
  • J. S. Battye (ed), Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vols 1-2 (Adel, 1912, 1913)
  • J. S. Battye (ed), The History of the North West of Australia (Perth, 1915)
  • G. C. Bolton, Alexander Forrest (Melb, 1958)
  • Dalgety's Review (Australasia), 19 Mar 1959
  • North Australian Monthly, June 1959
  • West Australian, 12 Jan 1948, 15 Apr 1950, 9 Mar 1959
  • South Western Times, 15 Jan 1948
  • scrapbook and papers (privately held)
  • biography index (State Library of Western Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

A. C. Staples, 'Rose, George Canler (1861–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/rose-george-canler-8265/text14477, published in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 1 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

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