Charles Smethurst Snow

Charles Smethurst Snow (1882-1953) ‘Father ‘ of Scouting in Queensland

Charles S. Snow is considered to be the founder of the Scouting movement in Queensland. He was the son of Charles William Snow, a prominent Brisbane jeweller and watchmaker who commissioned the beautiful two-storey brick residence known as Leckhampton at 59 Shafston Avenue.

Leckhampton 1895. (State Library of Queensland)

This elegant home, built in 1888-89, still exists today and was entered on the Queensland State Heritage Register on 21 October 1992. After the death of Charles W. Snow in 1913 Leckhampton remained in the Snow family until 1924 when it was sold and later converted into flats.

Charles S. Snow was the eldest of four children and worked as a watchmaker and jeweller in the family business. He was a keen musician and was organist and choirmaster at St Mary’s Anglican Church for many years. He even built his own organ ca. 1909 with parts imported from England. It was quite big with two manuals and pedals and was the central feature of the upstairs music room.

In August 1908, inspired by the work of Lieutenant Baden Powell in England, he formed a scout patrol at St Mary’s made up of boys from the choir and the church boys’ club. In October 1909 he helped to establish a State organisation for scouts, known as the Queensland Section of the Australian League of Boy Scouts and was elected Chief Scoutmaster.

He formed a “Chief Scoutmaster’s Own Patrol Own Patrol” (C.S.O) which met at his home. Under his guidance the scouting movement spread rapidly throughout the State and was affiliated with the Boy Scout Headquarters in London on 2nd July 1910, after which it became known as the League of Baden-Powell Scouts, Queensland Section”. A formal constitution was accepted on 13 September 1910.


After serving in the Australian Imperial Force from July 1917 to July 1919 he continued his scouting activities and was appointed Commissioner later that year. He went on to become commissioner of sea scouts (1921-23), commissioner for adult leader-training (from 1923) and eventually Chief Commissioner from 1925.

On 19 January 1924, at the age of 42, dressed in his scout uniform, he married 22-year-old Una C. Gibson at St Andrew’s Church of England, Ormiston. They lived in Hendra after Leckhampton was sold.

A natural leader and great communicator, he organised the first scout ‘corroboree’ and became involved in training scout leaders. In 1928 he encouraged the Scout Association to buy ‘Eprapah’, a 99-acre bushland property at Victoria Point for use as a scout training ground. In 1931 his position was made full-time and salaried. He was highly regarded by scouts and scoutmasters, often referred to as their own Baden Powell. He stepped down from the position in 1943 when the then State Governor and Chief Scout, Sir Leslie Wilson, objected to having a paid commissioner. He continued as commissioner for training until he retired in 1952 due to ill health. He died of tonsillar neoplasm on 7 June 1953 at his home in Hendra, survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Charles Snow memorial plaque in St Mary’s Anglican Church, Kangaroo Point.

In 1978 Eprapah was renamed the Charles S Snow Scout Environmental Activities Centre and another a Samford training centre for scout leaders was also named after him in 1979.