New Institute Mintaro

There were great rejoicings at Mintaro on Monday, February 4, when the foundation-stone of a substantial new Institute was laid in that township. Viewed in its ordinary everyday aspect, Mintaro and its neighbourhood look sufficiently pretty to call forth the visitor’s admiration, but when seen as It was upon this occasion with all the colouring and gaiety which moving groups of smartly-dressed holiday-makers and laughter-ringing sounds can impart to the eye and ear, it could not fail to impress the spectator as a most charming scene. The weather was in every sense propitious, being of that moderately low temperature which, after an experience of some days at 116° in the shade as it was at Mintaro recently, produces a highly exhilarating effect. After 12 o’clock noon the day was observed as a strict holiday, and no observer of subsequent events could gainsay the statement that every one, young and old, then gave themselves up to festivity and pleasure.
The building of which the foundation-stone was to be laid had been commenced a few weeks previously by Messrs. Whitehead, of Auburn, and Jolly, of Mintaro, the contractors, and such progress had been made that the visitors found about eight feet of the walls already built up. Its situation is excellent, seeming to have been chosen for the twofold advantage of convenience and ornament. It is quite in the heart of the town, being flanked on the right by the District Council Chamber—a stone building of a very neat appearance—and just sufficiently prominent on a slight elevation as to arrest attention from any point of view in the town. When completed it will be 58 x 24 feet, and 21 feet high, wall measurement; and will consist of a porch with folding doors leading into the principal room, 36 x 21, behind which will be two rooms, designed for the reading-room and library, each 10 x 10. The stone used is a rough sandstone which has been obtained from Kelsh’s quarry, and the rubble-stone is from Bowman’s block. It is estimated that the cost will be close upon £800.
In accordance with a promise given to a deputation the week before, the Hon. C. Mann, Q.C. (Attorney-General), visited the town for the purpose of laying the foundation-stone. He was accompanied by Mr. W. Townsend, M.P., who had likewise promised to take a part in the proceedings. On their arrival at the railway station they were welcomed, by Mr. Thompson Priest, J.P., the Chairman of the Building Committee, and Mr. George Faulkner, as representative of the District Council. A private luncheon was provided for the party and a few local gentlemen at the Devonshire Arms, and after partaking of this refreshment they were conveyed in buggies to the Mintaro Slate Quarry, which they inspected under the ciceroneship of the lessee, Mr. Priest.
The fine quality of the stone which is obtained from this quarry is well known in most parts of the province. It is almost the only stone that is used for flagging and paving the halls and lavatories of large public buildings nowadays, as well as for a variety of other purposes for which it is specially adapted. The quarry itself has been worked more or less for a period extending over 21 years, but at no time has it opened up so splendidly as at present. Excavations have been made to a depth of nearly 60 feet, and now it presents an immense slope of valuable laminiferous stone many feet in depth. A peculiarity of this stone is that almost all of it has a very smooth surface, and requires comparatively little polishing after it is quarried out or split up into layers. Many blocks possessing this feature are removed which measure over 100 superficial feet, but there have been as large blocks as 33½ x 29½ feet taken from Mintaro. The superior nature of this stone is becoming widely known, and it is now being shipped to all the metropolitan centres in the colonies. Twenty-nine men are constantly employed at the quarry, and in a broad sense it may be described as the mainstay of the town. The appliances in use and the numerical strength of the manual labour employed might not be such as to lead to an extensive or rapid development of the quarry at present, but there can be no doubt that a time will come when it will be a scene of great industry, and be the direct means of raising the town of Mintaro into the rank and importance of a large populous centre.
Shortly after 3 o’clock a procession consisting of Oddfellows and Foresters was formed in front of the Devonshire Arms, whence it proceeded to the Institute followed by the Hon. the Attorney-General, Mr. Townsend, M.P., Mr. Priest, J.P., the members of the District Council, and numerous other gentlemen. A large number of the residents, including many ladies, were assembled at the building, and the liveliest interest was manifested by every one. The first act was to present the Attorney-General with a silver trowel, beautifully chased, and bearing the inscription—”Presented to the Hon. C. Mann, Attorney-General, on the occasion of his laying the foundation-stone of Mintaro Institute, February 4, A.D. 1878.” Mr. Mann then laid the stone amidst cheers, after which Mr. Priest called for an expression of thanks to Mr. Mann for his presence there that day. Three hearty cheers having been given,
Mr. Mann said he need scarcely express his pleasure at being privileged to lay the foundation-stone of that building. He was particularly gratified with their kind reception of him, although he confessed the thanks were rather due to themselves for inviting him to be present. They could hardly overrate the importance of such an event as this. The Parliament now expiring had, fortunately, made ample provision for the educational requirements of the country, and large sums of money had been expended in the erection of school buildings in all the centres of population; but he need hardly remind them that the education of children at school was a very small part of the education required in after life. These institutions were the means of promoting that more practical education which was so necessary for fitting the young to cope with the difficulties of life, and he was very glad that Mintaro was in the van in encouraging such movements, which must be of lasting benefit to the community at large. He hoped ere long to assist at the opening of the Institute—(cheers)—and he wished that every good result might flow from its establishment. (Renewed cheers.)
Mr. Townsend was also greeted with a round of cheers and said, in responding, that from Mount Gambier to Adelaide, as all knew, he had been privileged to assist at the establishing of institutions of this kind—(Hear, hear)—and he could only say with the Attorney-General that he knew nothing of more importance to a man starting in life than culture. All other things being equal, he must be better off with it than the man who was without it, and his success in life must be more assured. There was a growing feeling amongst all classes in the colony that the amount of money spent hitherto for educational purposes had been too little, and he thought it should be increased. (Applause.) He trusted that such use would be made of that building by the Mintaro people that it would stand as a monument of their appreciation of the vast importance of culture. (Renewed applause.)
Mr. Mann did not think they ought to separate before acknowledging the exertions of the Building Committee, who had done so much to establish that Institute there. He accordingly moved a vote of thanks to them, which was instantly responded to by three ringing cheers.
Mr. Priest, as Chairman of the Committee, acknowledged the compliment, saying they had all worked happily together. He was very glad to add that the Committee as well as the outside public had subscribed in a handsome manner to the building fund, and he hoped that before long sufficient money would be raised to clear off the debt altogether. (Applause.)
The people being asked to contribute before going away, many came forward with donations, which they placed on the foundation-stone, and it was found that no less a sum than £20 18s. had been contributed in this way.
A banquet was afterwards given in the District Council Chamber in celebration of the event. There was a large gathering. Mr. Priest, J.P., filled the chair, and was supported on his right by the Ministerial guest, Mr. C. Mann, and by Mr. Townsend, M.P. Mr. George Faulkner officiated as Vice-Chairman, and amongst the guests seated round the board were Messrs. Michael Tobin, C. H. Burton, Patrick Dowd, J.P., William Bowman, T. Smith, Thomas Miller, Whitehead, Burton, Sandiland, and Bremner. Sir George Kingston sent an apology for non-attendance, as did also Mr. T. H. Hosier, ex-Mayor of Clare.
After the customary loyal toasts had been hononred,
Mr. Patrick Dowd, J.P., proposed “The Ministry.” He said the colony never had a better Government than the present, although the last Ministry was not a bad one, notwithstanding that Mr. Colton showed a belief that he could rule the whole colony with a high hand, listening to nobody. He remembered an occasion when a most influential deputation from the district waited on him in Adelaide, and he threw them all to the wind. This was a sample of his style. He hoped the present members for the district and every one of the Ministry would be returned at the elections. (Applause.)
The Attorney-General in rising to respond was loudly applauded. He said as he was the only member of the Ministry it became his very, pleasing duty foo thank them for the way in which they had received the toast. He knew Mr. Dowd’s kindly feelings towards him personally and to the Ministry of which he had the honour to be a member, and he believed that those feelings were shared in by the people of Mintaro as well as by the people of Stanley District generally. (Applause.) He was sure they would not expect him on that occasion to enter into asking political disquisition on the topics of the day; but this he would say—that he believed his colleagues were, with himself, sincerely desirous of advancing all the material interests of this country, and desirous of developing, and carrying out in the future the great policy of railway construction and public works which was first brought before the country in a concrete shape by the present head of the Ministry, Mr. Boucaut. (Cheers.) A considerable portion of that policy had already been given effect to by the previous Government, and he did not wish to deprive them of any claim to credit they might have for so doing; but the Parliament had been such that whoever was in the Ministry, whatever party was in power, the only motto it could have was “Progress.” (Hear, hear.) Referring to the political turmoil in Victoria, he hoped that South Australia would never fall into a similar condition. They had all seen from the public telegrams in the newspapers what a slate of anarchy Victoria was in at the present time, and it was difficult to conjecture where it would end. So long as he had a seat in the South Australian Parliament he trusted we should never come to the same pass—not that he believed we could ever come to that, for South Australians he considered were the most sensitive lovers of order and the most law-abiding people of all the colonies. (Applause.) As to the privileges of the Upper House, they must not for a moment think he would back that Chamber if a conflict on financial matters ever came between it and the Lower House, for he had always held to the principle—and he was sure Mr. Townsend would bear him out in that statement—that the Lower House should have the control of the public purse. Judging from the telegram of sympathy which was forwarded to Melbourne, and signed by a prominent member of the late Government here, it was not improbable that a similar cry would be attempted to be raised in this country; but he did not believe it would ever come to anything, for the Constitution of the electorates here was quite different from that in Victoria. An attempt, was made—which succeeded, too—by the Legislative Council only the session before last to interfere with the details of a Loan Bill by striking out an item in the very important work at Port Victor; but when it was agreed to by the Colton Government he (Mr. Mann) strenuously opposed the acquiescence of the House of Assembly by passing the vote, and he was happy to say that no one was more eloquent upon that occasion than Mr. Townsend in opposing what he termed “dragging the privileges of the House of Assembly in the dirt.” (Hear, hear, and applause.) What he resisted then he would resist now, and at any time; but he thoroughly believed, such was the good feeling which existed between the two Houses, that unless the Government were to go purposely out of their way to provoke the hostility of the Upper House no such crisis would be at all likely to arise as that now seen in the neighbouring colony in Victoria. (Hear, hear.) He would never be a party to such a mistake as that which had been made in Victoria, and he believed ninety-nine men out of every hundred in South Australia agreed with his views on that point. (Applause.) The opening up of the new areas he regarded as the precursor of much greater material prosperity in this country. Indeed the country was making rapid strides in advancement, and if we did not take advantage of the time we deserved to suffer. (Applause.) He could not, for the simple reason that he was not authorized (sic), foreshadow what the Ministry proposed to do in the next Parliament; but Mr. Boucaut would address his constituents at Encounter Bay some day this week, and might perhaps upon that occasion indicate the measures that would be submitted. For himself, he would only say that they would certainly propose such measures as would materially benefit the country, ever having for their great motto “Progress.” (Cheers.)
The Vice-Chairman proposed “The Parliament,” and referring to the Ministry contrasted them with the Colton Government, at whose defeat the Stanley District greatly rejoiced. (Applause.) He believed the obnoxious railway tariff had knocked Mr. Colton on the head with Stanley. (Applause).
Mr. Townsend, in responding, said he never thought he would be entertained round such an excellent board. Referring to the Victorian crisis, he said he was glad that such scenes had never been witnessed here. Our Parliament was thoroughly liberal, although conservative in principle. (Applause.) He hoped both Houses would always act harmoniously, but he held that the Assembly must have the control of the purse. He believed from the tone and tenor of the members of the Legislative Council that while they would defend their own rights they would give way to the popular will as represented in the Lower House. Referring to the other member for the district, Sir George Kingston, whose absence on the present occasion he was sure they all regretted, he said it was wonderful to see how well able he still was to discharge the onerous duties of the Speakership, and he believed he would be again elevated to that honourable position in the next Parliament. He hoped to have the pleasure of proposing Sir George himself, and no one could have greater pleasure in doing so. (Hear, hear, and applause.) As for himself, he would only say that although he had been acting as Chairman of Committees he had never at any time lost sight of the fact that he was there also as the member for Sturt, and he had exercised his rights accordingly. (Hear, hear.) When he entered upon the duties of Chairman it was with fear and trembling, but he believed that he had succeeded in giving satisfaction to every one. (Applause.) He did not know what were the feelings of those he saw round the board, but when he heard of wars and rumours of war abroad and the great political disturbances which were taking place in the adjoining colonies he could not help turning to our own colony with greater satisfaction than he had ever regarded it. Indeed he felt proud to belong to a country like South Australia, which had such a great conservative population. (Applause.) And as bearing out the truth of his estimate of this colony he would quote the following words from an article which recently appeared in the Melbourne Argus:—” In conclusion, we little thought we should have to envy the prosperity of South Australia, but with shame we do.” (Hear, hear.)
The Chairman next proposed “The health of Mr. Mann individually.” (Applause.) There was nothing they ever wanted done for the district which Mr. Mann had not been ready and willing to assist them in getting. (Hear, hear.) He thought they had no reason to find fault with his past career as their member, although he knew there was at one time a little altercation at Clare about the Balaklava Railway ; but they ought always to remember that when a member was returned for a district he was not only to consider it but what was for the good of the whole colony. (Applause.)
The toast, was drunk with all the honours.
Mr. Mann thanked them very heartily for receiving the toast so enthusiastically, and in the course of his remarks said he could conscientiously affirm that he had during the three years he had represented that district neglected no request his constituents had made of him, and they had not been a few. He had and would still always be ready to give prompt attention to any reasonable request for the good of the district, and to the best of his ability see that effect was given to it. (Applause.) In a district where there were so many diverse interests—for Clare and Mintaro might be said to be divided in their interests—it stood to reason that no man could possibly hope to please every one—(Hear, hear)—and he knew he had given offence to some of his constituents; but paramount to the local wants of any district must be the interests of the country at large. His conduct in regard to the Balaklava Railway had given great offence to many even of his personal friends; but he gave his vote on that affair after earnest consideration, and with more reluctance than any vote he had ever given, believing it to be the only conscientious course he could adopt. Now, however, that it was all over, and the irritation of his friends had had time to subside, they saw that what he had done was what he believed was for the best, and many of them had given him their personal assurance of their continued good feeling towards him. (Hear, hear.) This he considered was creditable alike to the constituency and to himself. (Hear, hear.) Before many weeks were over he hoped to have another opportunity of addressing them in view of the approaching electoral campaign; but he would say at present that he had met with such flattering receptions wherever he had gone, from north to south of the district, that he had made up his mind to again offer himself for their suffrages at the next election. (Cheers.)
The Chairman also proposed “The health of Mr. Townsend individually,” which was warmly received.
Mr. Townsend, after responding, proposed “Success to the town and trade of Mintaro,” and referred to the fine agricultural land he had seen in coming to the town that day which was lying waste. He should like to see more homesteads dotting the face of the country and less monopoly in the possession of land generally. If returned to the next Parliament, as he hoped to be, he would try to discover by what legislative enactment the interests of the colony in this respect could be best promoted. (Applause.)
Mr. T. Smith briefly responded.
The Attorney-General proposed “The Committee who organized the present proceedings,” and
The Chairman, in responding, expressed his regret that the Secretary (Mr. W. E. Giles) was unavoidably absent in consequence of a family bereavement.
The other toasts which followed were— “The Contractors,” proposed by Mr. Dowd, and responded to by Mr. Whitehead; “Sir George Kingston,” proposed by the Chairman; “The Visitors,” proposed by Mr. Burton, and responded to by Messrs. Sandiland and Bremmer; and “The representatives of the Press;” after which a special vote of thanks was passed to the proprietors of the Register and Advertiser for sending their representatives to Mintaro.
After the foregoing proceedings were concluded Mr. Townsend delivered his famous lecture on “The Lights and Shadows of London Life” before a crowded audience assembled in the large hall attached to the Devonshire Arms. The lecture was greatly enjoyed, the many humorous recitals and impersonations with which it is interspersed, and which Mr. Townsend knows so well how to give with the most telling effect, being received with rapturous applause. A dramatic performance followed which was so excellently played that it took everyone by surprise. The names of the performers were Mrs. Schoolar, Misses Briggs and M. Tobin, and Messrs. Anthony, E. G. Priest, Burton, Hunt, Fewster, and Briggs. After this was finished the room was cleared for dancing, in which a large number joined, who kept up the rout till late in the morning.