Monday, February 4, was a red-letter day in the history of Mintaro. The township assumed a holiday appearance, and visitors from other townships and neighborhood arrived to witness the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of the Institute. About 3 o’clock in the afternoon the Oddfellows and Foresters, in regalia, started from the Mintaro Hotel in procession to the north-eastern corner of the Institute, when the proceedings commenced by Mr. Thompson Priest, J.P., presenting the Hon. Charles Mann, M.P., with a handsome silver trowel, on which was engraven:— ‘Presented to the Honorable Charles Mann, Attorney-General, on account of laying the foundation-stone of the Mintaro Institute, February 4, 1878.’
Mr. Priest thanked Messrs. Mann and Townsend, on behalf of the trustees and others for their kindness in being present on that special occasion. Two daily papers were enclosed in the stone, also a document referring to the building and containing the names of the trustees and the present District Councillors, clerk, &c.
The Hon. Charles Mann having pronounced that the stone was well and truly laid said he could hardly express the feeling of pleasure it afforded him in being present to assist in such a cause. He was also grateful for their kind feelings towards himself. It gave him great pleasure to have the honor of laying the foundation-stone of that building — a building erected for the benefit of mankind, the value of which could not be overrated as to its influence for good. The last Parliament had made provision for schools and the education of children. They had also encouraged the erection of Institutes, which tended to a further improvement, as affording mental recreation to all. He thanked the Committee and those connected with the Institute, and hoped to be present at the opening. (Cheers.)
Mr. Townsend, M.P., said he did not think of a vote of thanks ; he was only too anxious to aid any good cause. (Cheers.) It was his first visit to Mintaro. He believed in the erection of Institutes, and also in the blessings of culture. Parliament had voted sums for educational purposes, but not sufficient for as noble a cause. In the erection of Institutes every pound was supplemented by the Government, and his earnest wish was that the Mintaro Institute might prove a blessing to the present and also coming generations. (Cheers.)
Mr. Mann proposed a vote of thanks to the Institute Committee, coupled with the name of Mr. Thompson Priest.
Mr. Priest returned thanks for the Committee, who would, he was certain, spare no time or trouble in their endeavor to carry out the work in an efficient manner.
About 20 guineas was contributed and placed on the stone. The following is a description of the building:— Length, 65 feet; height, 24 feet; width, 24 feet. A plinth surrounds the building. Front entrance by porch, with large folding doors; there are also two entrances at the back. The large room is 21 ft x 35 ft.; two read ing rooms, each 10 ft. x 10 ft. clear; eight windows, and proper ventilation. All quoins are from the Manoora quarry, and the other stone is from Mr. Bowman’s block. The contractors are Messsr. Whitehead and Jolly, and the cost will be about £800.
The dinner took place in the new District Council office in the evening, and was catered for by Mr. Anthony, of the Devonshire Hotel, to whom great credit is due for the splendid manner in which it was got up. About 30 persons sat down. Mr. T. Priest occupied the chair, and Mr. George Faulkner the vice-chair. The usual loyal toasts having been disposed of,
The Chairman proposed ‘The Governor of South Australia.’ He believed him to be the right man for the colony, and although he was about to visit England he would look to their interests. His Excellency had taken great interest in railway extension, knowing that that combined with liberal land laws would make South Australia a thriving colony. (Cheers.)
At this stage of the proceedings a telegram was received from Mr. Hosier, of Clare, apologising for his absence.
Mr. P. Dowd, J.P., proposed ‘The Ministry,’ He believed that they were men of honest intentions. He believed, also, that Mr. Colton fancied he was ruler of the colony when in office, for when respectable deputations waited on him he flung their wishes to the winds. He sincerely hoped that at the next election the present members would be returned. (Cheers.)
Mr. Mann responded. He thanked Mr. Dowd and all present for their kind expressions, but he did not suppose they would desire politics that evening. He would say, however, that his colleague Sir G. S. Kingston, and also the present Ministry, were desirous of carrying out all measures for the benefit of the colony at large. Their motto was Progress — viz., railway extension and reproductive works. He referred to the Victorian crisis, but believed such would never happen here. For his part he would not allow the Council to control the House of Assembly, and, further, South Australians were a law-abiding people, as on that their prosperity was grounded. He expressed the hope of again representing the District of Stanley. (Cheers.)
Mr. G. Faulkner proposed ‘The Parliament of South Australia.’ He believed that it would compare favorably with the New South Wales or Victorian Parliaments, for the members knew how to conduct themselves.
Mr. Townsend said that when requested by Messrs. Priest and Giles to attend at the ceremony, it was simply to lecture, but he had great pleasure in responding to the toast. He believed the Parliament would work for the benefit of the colony. He had been in Parliament about 20 years, and he had had differences with other members, but was always on speaking terms with them. He hoped that those who made the laws would make them well. (Prolonged Cheering.)
Other toasts were given and responded to, especially one to the senior representative of the district, Sir G. S. Kingston, which was enthusiastically received. In the evening Mr. Townsend delivered his well-known lecture ‘The Lights and Shadows of London Life.’ Several pieces of music were rendered during the evening, as also a farce entitled ‘The Terrible Tinker.’
The proceeds of the entertainment amounted to about £15.