John Gale’s relatives meet statue of great great grandfather

JOHN GALE'S FAMILY. Cheryl Hazlett, Megan Hazlett, Christine Bruton, and Stephen Trindall at the National Library of Australia. Photo: James Hall.
JOHN GALE'S FAMILY. Cheryl Hazlett, Megan Hazlett, Christine Bruton, and Stephen Trindall at the National Library of Australia. Photo: James Hall.

More than 160 years after John Gale rode his horse up Kurrajong Hill and declared the land a perfect location for the future city of Canberra, his great great grandchildren returned to learn more about their trail-blazing ancestor.

Known as the father of Canberra and the founder of the Queanbeyan Age newspaper in 1860, a statue of Mr Gale watches over the city of Queanbeyan on Monaro Street.

His great great granddaughter, Christine Burton, and her cousins came to the capital from right across New South Wales to admire his statue and read the expansive collection of documents and photographs related to Mr Gale at the National Library of Australia.

Christine and Barry Bruton at the National Library of Australia. Photo: James Hall.

Christine and Barry Bruton at the National Library of Australia. Photo: James Hall.

"It is very meaningful because I remember my mother used to talk about her great grandfather, John Gale, and she was quite proud of him and also very fond of him,” Mrs Bruton said.

"She told me quite a lot about him and because of that I have researched him and found many wonderful things about him.”

Mrs Bruton said she and her cousins are proud of the legendary life of their great great grandfather.

“He achieved a lot in his time and he was a very highly respected member of the community when he was living in Queanbeyan,” she said.

Robert Hazlett at the National Library of Australia. Photo: James Hall.

Robert Hazlett at the National Library of Australia. Photo: James Hall.

The descendants also planned to visit the Queanbeyan Printing Museum, and although Mrs Bruton has visited the statue of Mr Gale in the past, she said it was hard to predicate family’s reactions.

"It will be quite emotional,” she said.

“My husband and I visited it in May 2014 and I was so impressed with it.

"John Gale doesn't look aloof, he's looking down at you with just a gentle smile on his lips and you feel as though he's smiling right at you, and it gave me goose bumps,” Mrs Bruton said.

"So to be there with my cousins will be quite emotional.”

The National Library of Australia compiled a special collection of artifacts, clippings and photographs of Mr Gale for the descendants to view and a spokeswoman from the library said it was a joy to bring life to their materials.

“Communal memory is important to bring these details back to life,” she said.