Frederick J. CatoPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders
Cato Park commemorates Frederick J. Cato who was a benefactor of Stawell.

Frederick John Cato (1858-1935), grocer and philanthropist, was born on 15 May 1858 in a tent at Pleasant Creek (Stawell), Victoria. He was educated at Stawell State School to the age of 13 and worked in a grocery shop while studying to become a pupil-teacher. He taught at his old school until 1878 before moving to New Zealand where he was eventually in charge of a school at Invercargill. Worried about his health and tired of teaching, in May 1881 he wrote to his cousin Thomas Edwin Moran, who had established two grocery shops in Fitzroy and Carlton, asking him if there were any chance of joining in the business. On 24 July they entered partnership with £411 capital: Moran was to have two-thirds of the shares. 

The partners prospered. When Moran died in 1890, aged 30, his widow became partner in the business which by then had thirty-five branches. Cato was among the first, in 1893, to introduce six o'clock closing. The business expanded into Tasmania and into New South Wales, where Moran & Cato Ltd was formed in Sydney in 1909. In 1912 it was converted to a proprietary company with the Moran family and Cato as share-holders; Cato became governing director. In 1924 he set up wholesale companies in Melbourne and Sydney. By 1935 there were about 120 branches of Moran & Cato in Victoria and Tasmania and about 40 in New South Wales, with nearly one thousand employees.

Cato had been a founder in 1895 of the Rosella Preserving Co. and became its chairman of directors. He was also a founder in 1911 and chairman of Austral Grain & Produce Pty Ltd, and chairman of Hagita Pty Ltd, coconut-planters of Papua.

He donated many scholarships to Church schools and gave extensive properties to the Methodist Ladies' College of which he was a trustee from 1927. He supported the Methodist Boys' Home and Training Farm, Cheltenham, was active in home-mission affairs, and was a generous donor to Methodist missions in Arnhem Land, New Britain and India, which he visited in 1926. He also made generous donations to metropolitan churches of several denominations and to Stawell hospital.

The Stawell borough council has decided to alter the name of Victoria Park to Cato Park in recognition of the public-spiritedness of Mr. F. J. Cato, of Melbourne, a former Stawell resident.
The Age (Melbourne), 29 March 1930.


Address:Victoria Street, Cato Park, Stawell, 3380
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.058401
Long: 142.776884
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Park
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 26th March, 1930
Front Inscription

This Park Was Gazetted As Victoria Reserve
On December 7th, 1914.

It Was Renamed Cato Park On March 26th, 1930
As A Tribute To The Generosity Of
A Loyal Son And Benefactor Of Stawell
Unveiled November 23rd, 1982

Cr. B. R. Sherwell - Mayor  
Town of Stawell

Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
Proudly sponsored by UBC Web Design