The City of Canning may confer the title Freeman of the City on an outstanding member of the community in recognition of their achievements in service of the community.
George Harmston Wilson
George Wilson was the owner of Wilson & John’s Nursery, which was established in 1898. His nursery covered the area between Wharf Street, Manning and Chapman Roads and Albany Highway. Wilson joined the Canning Road Board in 1903, and became the first Mayor of the District in 1907. He went on to be Mayor and Chairman of Canning for 29 years. He was a member of the Canning Agricultural Society for 52 years, and President for 50 years. Wilson was awarded the King's Medal for services to Canning in 1937 and the suburb Wilson was named after him. The title of Honorary Freeman had not yet been instituted in Canning. However his service to the Canning District was recognised at a Presentation dinner at the Canning Agricultural Hall in 1946.
Ernest Clark was born in England in 1900, arriving in Australia as a child. He went on to work in the newspaper industry and was heavily involved in sporting, community and welfare organisations. He became involved in trotting as an owner/trainer and reinsman, and became President of the Trotting Breeders and Trainers Association. Clark was a member of the Canning Agricultural, Horticultural and Recreational Society for over 40 years. He was elected to the Canning Road Board in 1951, eventually becoming President of the Shire of Canning from 1964-1971, Mayor of the Town of Canning 1971-1979 and Mayor of the City of Canning 1979-1982. In 1960, Clark also became the District Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, a post he held until 1976. In that time he had married more than 2500 couples, operating from his Cannington home. Ernest Clark was proclaimed an Honorary Freeman of the Municipality of the City of Canning in 1979, and In 1980, he was awarded the O.B.E. for services to the community.
Noel Dawkins was appointed a Secretary of the Canning Road Board in 1955. He remained in the Chief Executive position for 31 years, during which time Canning grew from a semi-rural Road Board of 9000 people to a City of 80000. He became an Associate Member of the W.A. division of the Institute of Local Government Administration in 1957, eventually becoming the W.A. Divisional President in 1967. Dawkins was extensively involved in many community organisations, and with the Greyhound Racing Association. He was made an Honorary Freeman of the City in 1986, and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for service to Local Government and to the community.
Dr Michael Lekias
Dr Michael Lekias opened his first practice in his Bentley family home in 1955. He was a very popular local GP, delivering many local babies. Always heavily involved with sporting and community organisations, he nominated as Mayor of Canning and was elected in 1992with an overwhelming majority. He held this position from 1992 to 2008. During his time as Mayor, Dr Lekias was awarded a Bicentennial Medal and in 2006 he became a Member of the Order of Australia. He was awarded Freeman of the City of Canning in 2013.
Images: George Wilson's Presentation Dinner, 1946; Ernest Clark, 1970s; Noel Dawkins' Freeman of the City ceremony, 1986; Mayor Michael Lekias opening Riverton Library, 1997.