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Callanan, George (1883–1923)

from Westralian Worker

This entry is from Obituaries Australia

The death occurred at the Kalgoorlie Government Hospital on Monday afternoon last of George Callanan, than whom there was no more sincere, better loved, and universally popular member of the Labor Movement on the goldfields.

The news of his death came as a severe shock to all, for although suffering for some time from an organic complaint, that was visibly sapping his constitution, which medical treatment had failed to improve, and which finally compelled him to undergo an operation, in the course of which he died, he was of such a robust constitution in his normal state that his death was entirely unexpected.

By his death Labor loses one of its greatest human bulwarks in this centre, a man of more than ordinary intellectual capacity, a keen debater, quick of thought, prudent, clever, self-reliant and honest.

Labor mourns collectively the death of George Callanan because by it they lose a tried and trusted unit, individually because he was a true comrade and a good friend. His place will be hard to fill.

Our departed comrade came to the goldfields some 26 years ago. He was born in New Zealand, and was about forty years of age. He spent many of his youthful years in Broken Hill, where he was known as a studious young man. He had some gift of music, and was prominent in athletic circles in that centre. When he came West he started work on the Lake View Gold Mine, being at that time little more than a boy. He applied himself to mining as a profession, and became proficient in all branches of underground work.

He always took a deep interest in the Labor Movement, in which he was a great worker and student of political economy. He was a committeeman in the A.W.A., and when that organisation merged into the F.M.U. he was appointed as delegate to the Miners' Conferences. He was a delegate to the A.L.P. Council for many years, and occupied, in that body, for a period, the positions of secretary and president, and at the time of his death was a trustee. He represented the A.L.P. Council on three State Conferences, and at the Australian Trades Union Congress held in Melbourne two years ago. He was a councillor for the AW.U. at their conference in Sydney, and delegate of that organisation at the Brisbane Conference, and held for a term the position of general president of the A.W.U. Mining Branch. At the time of his death he was secretary of the Kalgoorlie and Boulder Section of the A.W.U. Mining Branch.

At a recent selection ballot to determine Labor's representative in the next election for the South Province of the Legislative Council, the late George Callanan secured the honor from seven other aspirants.

He was a man who had suffered much for the cause of Labor. He was a firm advocate for the rights of the working class, actuated by a keen desire to further the interests of his fellow workers, prepared to make sacrifices for, and made them, being victimised to a degree for his outspokenness and the capability with which he handled the workers' cause. But the blandishments of fortune did not deter him from following the course which he believed to be right. To the end he stuck to his principles, maintained the courage of his convictions, kept to the path that led to the goal for the uplifting of his fellow workers, taking the hurdles as he came to them, with an unswerving perseverance and patient resolve to play his part at least in Labor's efforts for the emancipation of the bottom dog.

About eighteen months ago, the late George Callanan had the sorrow to lose his good wife, which was a great blow to him. With a family of five to care for it was a great misfortune. Since that time his mother has kept house for him, and to her and to his children his untimely death is a cruel, cruel blow.

To the writer, George confided quite recently that the greatest desire of his heart was that the fates would be kind enough to him to enable him to give his beloved children a fair chance in life. And now he has gone with his heart's ambition unachieved. The five little children, the eldest of whom is still going to school, and his beloved mother, are left at the mercy of the world.

Labor must rise to the occasion. Labor no doubt will, and in a practical way, by helping the dear ones that mourn with us the loss of a good father, a good son, a loving comrade, and a sincere friend.

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Citation details

'Callanan, George (1883–1923)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/callanan-george-33011/text41144, accessed 30 January 2023.

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