CHAFFEY, William Benjamin (1856-1926)


CHAFFEY, William Benjamin (1856-1926)
pioneer of irrigation in Australia
younger brother of George Chaffey (q.v.), was born at Brockville, Canada, on 21 October 1856. He was the third son of George and Anne Chaffey and emigrated with his father to California in 1878. There he took up fruit-growing with success, and soon afterwards became associated with his brother George in forming the Etiwanda Irrigation Colony. Towards the end of 1882 the brothers founded the settlement of Ontario. At the end of 1885 W. E. Chaffey followed his brother to Australia, and as Chaffey Brothers Limited they were inseparably connected with the foundation of Mildura and Renmark, George as engineer and William as business manager. After their failure, and George had returned to America, William stayed at Mildura and inspired the other settlers with the example of his hard work, and his cheerfulness under misfortune. Gradually he paid off his liabilities to the government and private creditors, and became the leader of everything that was for the good of the town. He became known as he "father of Mildura", not only because he was one of the original founders, but on account of the determination with which he had carried the settlement through its troubles. Realizing the difficulties of marketing and the dangers of cut-throat competition, he formed and became first president of the Australian Dried Fruits Association and he was also mayor of Mildura and president of the local horticultural and agriculture society. He was made a C.M.G. in 1924 and was everywhere held in the highest esteem. He died on 4 June 1926 and was survived by his widow, three sons and three daughters.
J. A. Alexander, The Life of George Chaffey; The Age and The Argus, Melbourne, 5 June 1926.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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