Louis Alfred E (Alf) Dubois - Mackay
Alfred (E?) Dubois was the son and third child of Pierre Dubois and Elisa Canet.
He was born in late 1860 on the island of Mauritius, his birth being
registered in the Plaines Wilhems district.
Alfred had two older brothers and would have five younger sisters.
His father became the town architect of the capital city, Port Louis,
where the Dubois children grew up. When
he was a young man of just 18 years old, Alfred's mother died. A few years later
his father married again to his mother's much younger sister.
So Alfred's aunt Leopoldine Canet, became his step-mother and his father
Pierre, would have another family of six with his second wife.
not known how Alfred was employed as a young man, although later he seems to
have turned his hand to a variety of trades.
Among the Dubois family's circle of friends were the Collet and Gallanty
families (related to the Collets by marriage), who would play a significant part
in Alfred's life. The Gallantys
were involved in sugar cane plantations, so possibly Alfred and his slightly
older brother Oscar (there was only a year between their ages), learnt this
trade with them.
major export product of Mauritius was sugar.
The impact of the 1869 opening of the Suez Canal had been an acute
economic depression in Port Louis. Mauritius
lost much of its strategic importance as a trade port of call, along with
associated ship repairs and victualling. Many businesses went bankrupt.
the ensuing years the Dubois, Collet and Gallanty families decided to leave
Mauritius. Also involved in the
plans were Alfred's maternal aunt and uncle, the Suzor family.
came to Australia, but it has not yet been established whether it was before or
after his brother Oscar Dubois, with whom he would remain closely associated.
Oscar left Mauritius at the age of 22, with family friend, Fernand Collet
on the 31st January, 1881, aboard the "Clodian".
Just over a month later, they arrived in Victoria on the 9th March, and
travelled to Mackay in north Queensland where Fernand's uncle Jean Gallanty was
Alfred would also settle in Mackay, it appears that he may have spent some time
in Sydney and was there prior to his family's arrival from Mauritius.
So far it has been difficult to exactly establish this, as also living in
Sydney at the time was an unrelated Alfred A. E. Dubois born 1868 (family of
English descent). The 1885 Sands Directory lists an Alfred Dubois at 78 Crown
Road, Sydney, although whether this was the correct person has not yet been
two of Alfred's maternal aunts came to Sydney around this time so perhaps he was
there to greet them. His aunt
Mauricia Canet and aunt Lucia and husband Eusebe Clement Suzor, arrived on the
evening of the 26th March, 1884, aboard the S.S. "Yarra".
Also aboard the ship were a Mr Le Claire, A. Delort and son, A. Anderson,
and Eusebe's son from a previous marriage - all names tied to the family at
different stages by marriages. His Suzor relatives quickly settled into a house
at 55 William Street, Paddington. Sadly, just eight months later, his aunt
Mauricia died on the 3rd November, 1884, from a heart condition she'd had for
in Mackay, Alfred's brother Oscar, had married Fernand Collet's youngest sister
a few months earlier. The rest of
the Collet family had come to Australia a few years before in 1882.
Oscar Dubois and Ivana Collet were married on the 16th August, 1884, in a
ceremony witnessed by her siblings, Fernand and Noemie Collet.
Year's Day, the 1st January, 1885, saw Alfred's father, step-mother and family,
arrive in Sydney aboard the steamship "Yarra". 20
Travelling with them was another maternal aunt, Louise Alphonsine Dubois
(a widow) and his 15 year old cousin, Louise Anna.
If Alfred was not already there waiting for their arrival, evidence shows
he definitely joined them a month later. A
marriage must have been arranged back home in Mauritius between one of Alfred's
younger sisters, Ines Dubois and Fernand Collet.
Their wedding was held a month after the Dubois' arrival on the 3rd
February, at 597 Dowling Street, Sydney, with E.C. Suzor and A. Dubois being
Oscar's new wife was in the early stages of her first pregnancy so
possibly they did not travel down for the Sydney wedding.
Alfred later worked with his brother Oscar in Mackay, it appears he may also
have lived in Sydney for a few years, where his father and the rest of his
family settled. An Alfred Dubois
was still listed at 78 Crown Road in the Sands Sydney Directory for 1890. By the
1892 edition, a listing appears at Norton Street, Ashfield, but this is most
likely the unrelated Dubois as several of his children were born in the Ashfield
district around 1890 and 1891. In 1895, an Alfred Dubois was again listed at 24
Crown Road. A few years later the
1898 Sands lists "Alfred Dubois, confectioner, 347 Parramatta Road,
Leichhardt" .. His father
Pierre Dubois, was also listed at this same address on the 1899-1900 Electoral
seems that around the mid 1890s, Alfred moved to Mackay, as his name disappears
from the NSW directories. The Qld
Post Office Directory for 1896-97 has a listing at Habana for "Dubois
Bros., farmers". This was
most likely Oscar and Alfred.
the sugar industry, technology had turned milling into a specialised field.
Many large plantations were no longer financially viable and began to
subdivide, selling or leasing their land to small farmers so they could
concentrate on the processing side of the industry. 31
The majority of canegrowers were now smallholders on less than 90 acres
of land. Quite possibly Alfred and
Oscar leased a parcel of land at Habana for this purpose.
few years before, Oscar had taken out a lease on 80 acres of land at Nindaroo
from the Australian Joint Stock Bank Limited, Mackay.
He employed Islander field labourers, contracted from the recruiters
Brown & Christie and farmed rattoon cane, paying a royalty to the bank.
Rattoon cane was only good for two years after which time it had to be
ploughed in and replaced with new stock.
is not known how successful their farming venture was or exactly how long it
lasted. The Post Office Directories
for 1901-02 list Alfred E. Dubois as living at Petersham farm, Mackay.
the turn of the century, Oscar's health began to decline but he managed to keep
the Nindaroo farm going, possibly with Alfred's help. At the young age of just 42, Oscar Dubois died on the 11th
April, 1902, without leaving a will. His
funeral left from the home of their brother-in-law, Fernand Collet later that
same day. Oscar's burial in the
Catholic section of Mackay Cemetery was witnessed by W.T. Paget and A.
wife Ivana was appointed executor of his estate.
The last cane crop was allowed to mature, then cut and sold.
Alfred was overseer of the three white cane cutters, although the farm
had also used Pacific Islander labour as one of the estate's liabilities was
listed as "guarantee for Islanders return passage"..
Oscar's estate was finalised towards the end of the year and on the 31st
December, 1902, Ivana surrendered the lease on the farm back to the bank.
Alfred did in the years immediately following his brother's death is not yet
known. Most probably, in
conjunction with Fernand Collet, he helped look out for Oscar's family until his
sister-in-law Ivana, decided to move her family to Sydney to live near her
husband's parents around 1903.
the years that Alfred had spent cane farming, his brother-in-law Fernand Collet
had established his own family soft drink manufacturing business in Peel Street,
Mackay. It seems likely that Alfred
either worked with him or learnt the trade from him. The 1908 Post Office Directory, lists Alfred E. Dubois as an
aerated water manufacturer along with Fernand Collet. Whether Alfred traded using his own 'Dubois' branded bottles
or worked with Fernand's business is not yet clear. The Directory listings continue up until 1936, some years
after both Alfred's death and the relocation of Fernand's business to Sydney, so
quite possibly he had a separate business venture.
Alfred was aged about 47, he finally decided to take a wife. His association with the Collets had introduced him to
Fernand's cousin, Marie Amelie Regina Gallanty.
Also born in Mauritius, Regina was the eldest daughter of Jean Gallanty,
and had come to Australia as an infant with her mother and the Collet family.
She was 26 when she married Alfred on the 18th December, 1907. 5,2
Despite his late start to married life, Alf and Reg still managed to
raise a family of five children. Their
first child, a daughter who they named Mary Ena, was born not quite twelve
months after their marriage, on the 14th November, 1908.
father, Pierre Dubois was now 75 years old, frail and suffering from heart
problems. He died at his Sydney
home from myocarditis on the 17th September, 1909. As several of Alfred's
brothers would also suffer from heart disease, this may have been an hereditary
problem. His funeral was held just
two days later, so it's unlikely that Alfred would have had time to attend.
and Reg's own family quickly grew over the next few years.
A son, Louis Reginald (named for each of his parents) was born on the
10th January, 1910. Sadly later that same year, Regina also lost her 66 year old
father, Jean Gallanty, on the 26th October.
He too had been troubled by heart problems for many years.
His newspaper obituary stated the Dubois were living at Te Kowai at the
time. A few years later, Regina gave birth to another daughter on the 2nd
September, 1912, who was named Stella Jeanne, after her late grandfather. The
Postal Directory for 1913-14, lists Alfred E. Dubois as living at Byron Street.
Another son was born on the 3rd December, 1913, and they named him Thomas
Maitland. They appear to have had one last daughter, Ida Laure, who would have
been born after 1914.
1915, Alfred and his family moved to live in Sydney Street, Mackay, which
appears to have been the family's home for the rest of his life.
Dubois would have been living here when Mackay experienced its worst natural
disaster when the town was hit by a violent cyclone in 1918. The first warnings were received on Sunday afternoon, 20th
January. The night brought high
winds of up to 194 km/hr, heavy rain that continued for days and a tidal wave
that swept down the river into the town as far as Nebo Road.
Buildings were destroyed or unroofed and trees uprooted.
Naturally, most of the buildings in River Street (running along the
Pioneer River) were badly damaged. The
Sydney Street bridge across the river was damaged by several ships striking it,
which cut the town off from North Mackay. Hundreds
of people were injured and left homeless with 22 killed. It's not known how far down Sydney Street the Dubois' home
was and as the street ran adjacent to the river for seven blocks, this would
have effected the severity of the damage they experienced. The cyclone destroyed communications and damaged the
lighthouse, so it was three days before any outside help reached the town.
some stage, Alfred's widowed mother-in-law, Angele Gallanty, had come to live
with them and by September, 1922, she was residing with them.
Alfred Dubois died at the age of 72, on the 19th February, 1932, at Mackay, from causes as yet unknown. He was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Mackay Cemetery.
Lamb, Karen (2005), History of Louis Alfred E. Dubois , unpublished.
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