During Australia’s colonisation the Parer’s shaped the nation through their personalities, businesses, hotels, restaurants and other endeavours in six regions: Melbourne and country Victoria, Tasmania including King Island, Western Australia including the Northern Territory, Queensland, New Guinea and Sydney.
The Parer family realised that the boom-times created enormous wealth and high spirits. Rather than throw their lot into prospecting, though they did that at times, they focused on providing suitable accommodation, food and beverage locations in these places. It proved financially to be a winning formula.
Joseph Parer y Xicola’s family sought wealth in the West and stuck together in the early days. The eldest, James, an experienced hotelier having previously owned and run hotels in Traralgon and Melbourne for years, sought and acquired the lease on Northern Territory hotels in Darwin and ran the Terminus Hotel, but prior to that he was in Perth, Cue, Kalgoorlie and Leonora. Joseph’s son Alphonso Justine Parer owned Parer’s Metropole Cafe and Parer’s Westralia Cafe in Boulder before going bankrupt in late 1899. Another of Joseph’s boys Charles William Parer owned the Exchange and Challenge Hotels in Leonora before he too went bankrupt a year after his brother. In Cue the Parer brothers bought the Crown Hotel and the Grand Hotel in 1896. The Crown Hotel was run by Jim Parer and Mr. K. Huttlau Casas.
There were other Parer’s out in the west, including the children of Johnny Parer y Xicola. Some still remain there today and even claim to be the last of the Parer’s out west.
It comes as no surprise then that the outback town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia had Parer establishments. In particular we will focus on two – JC Parer’s Restaurant and Parer’s Albion Hotel.
John Cabus Parer
JC Parer was born Juan Ysidro “John” Cabus y Parer on the 23 June in Alella, Catalonia, Spain, the eldest son of Juan Ysidro “John Senior” Cabus and Josefa Antonia Lorenza Parer y Xicola.
John’s mother, Josefa, is part of the first generation of Parer’s to arrive in Australia being a daughter of Pau. She married Juan in Alella on 5 September 1874 the certificate of which describes him as a pastry maker. He would have fit neatly into the family businesses on the other side of the world in Melbourne, Australia when he arrived on the 6th of September 1888 with half a dozen other Catalonians.
John C Parer worked within the Parer Bros many Melbourne restaurant businesses gaining a firm grasp of the operations, economics, and marketing. John realised the Parer name carried with it a certain reputation in Australia, more so than Cabus. So John Cabus y Parer’s shortened to become John C Parer. Encouraged by the family to make his mark and his fortune he made a significant move.
In March 1894, John C Parer headed from Melbourne out west to Perth to manage the licensed Sydney Coffee Palace in Murray Street which was going through a revamp. The new management of Mr Casas wanted a new name and so it became The Duke of York Restaurant. At the same time they brought from Melbourne a new chef, Emil Bellot, who had also spent time at the Café Royal in London.
J. C. Parer in Kalgoorlie
Over a year later, at the start of December 1895, John saw an opportunity at the goldfield town of Kalgoorlie and opened a licensed eating house on Hannon Street under the guise of Messrs JC Parer & Co, a partnership between John C Parer and Joseph Pareras. Things were going well for him, when disaster stricken the night of 22 October 1886 with a fire that gutted many businesses.
Business pressures meant that the firm of JC Parer & Co needed to open quickly and they engaged the architects firm of Messrs Molline, Sammehayes and Hawkins and the contractors Norman and Galphin to rebuild in cement and brick in a manner more protective from future fires. The opportunity was taken to build larger premises able to seat 132 diners. In all the repairs ran to a total outlay of about £2,000. Though not completely renovated, within 25 days Parer’s Restaurant had reopened “with a brass band discoursing music for the occasion” out the front. The restaurant was arranged with a long central table running the length of the room with two lines of small side tables on either side.
John confident after his success in the restaurant decided to act on further opportunities. In April 1897 the company bought two lots on Burt Street in the new Boulder townsite, numbers 52 and 53 for £550 and £540 respectively. Once again Norman and Galphin began construction on the stonework, two-storey building in September, for £3,793, though the architect this time was Mr D T Edmunds. Burt Street was quite bare at the time and it must have proved a welcome development for the area. Parer’s Albion Hotel opened to the public on New Year’s Day 1898, a Saturday. Again it wasn’t quite complete, but John required the income. They leased the hotel out.
The current website of the Albion Shamrock hotel states,”On 7 June 1902, the Hotel was completely gutted by fire, which was found to have been started by hot ashes left in the refuse at the rear of the building by the proprietors of the oyster saloon in Lane Street. The building was insured for £3,000 and the stock and furniture for £1,000. The damage was repaired and the hotel continued to trade.” When the lease expired in 1908, Joseph Pareras took over the management.
The Shamrock was classified by the National Trust in 1976 according to the Heritage Council of WA.
Does marriage mark the end?
It was about this time that Mary Ann Markham became pregnant with John’s child and she gave birth to a boy 3 November 1898. They married the next year in Perth in a ceremony without much fanfare.
John C Parer, wasn’t well though and while the business was in good shape, he immediately had to take leave. So on 12 December 1902 he dissolved the JC Parer & Co partnership with Joseph Pareras, after earlier selling all the goods and property at auction.
Within five months he was dead at the age of 27, leaving behind an in-love young widow, a five year old boy and almost £4,000 inheritance. John Cabus y Parer epitomised a bright burning flame and the urgent success of the Parer’s in Australia. Parts of his hotel still remain in Boulder even if where he lived in Kalgoorlie, at the Terminus Hotel in Trafalgar, has been consumed by the mine.