20. Nathaniel White Harper (1865-1954), businessman and philanthropist
Nathaniel Harper was born in Ireland and arrived in Southern Cross in 1892 to manage Fraser’s Mine. He was an experienced mine manager and later transferred to Kanowna to manage the White Feather Main Reef, the Koh-I-Nor and the Golden Pile mines.
By 1900 Harper had diversified from his mining interests. He was responsible for the construction of the Esplanade Hotel, an elegant red brick building with fine interior timber panelling, on the Swan River foreshore. He purchased a farm at Beverley and from 1910-1914 represented the district in the Legislative Assembly. Harper was involved with the motor car industry and in 1927, in partnership with W. J. Winterbottom, established the Winterbottom Motor Company.
From 1910 until his death in 1954, Harper fought with great tenacity to acquire public acknowledgement that he had been the driving force behind Sir John Forrest on the feasibility of the Coolgardie water supply scheme. Harper was a generous man, and in 1947 he established a foundation for the Nathaniel Harper homes for mentally retarded children at Guildford and Bassendean.