It all started in the 1950’s when Mario was inspired by his Aunt Edie’s pharmacy work, which he saw making a huge impact on people’s overall health and well-being.
One of the first female pharmacists in Northern Australia, Mario was enamoured by his Aunt’s caring, joyful and humble nature and the outcomes she achieved for those she helped. He went on to develop a strong and passionate vision to also work with people to improve their whole health, through connection to community, well being and quality of life.
Mario Calanna’s father came to Australia, from Sicily, when he was 18 years of age in 1925. He spoke very little English and had only received a Grade 3 level education. He wanted more for his own children and worked hard on the family farm and in other jobs to provide every opportunity for his children.
Mario recalls the story like this, “After many general conversations during high school I can recall he said: ‘Son, you have two options – the pick and shovel and land are this way..books are the other way – you choose”.
Mario chose the books as his father had expected and followed in the footsteps of his Aunt Edie who had been an ongoing source of inspiration for Mario’s whole health dream.
Becoming a pharmacist was one thing, but Mario’s father had bigger plans. While Mario studied, his father planned his dream – to build his son a medical centre.
And so, it was that part of the family farm in Woree was eventually sectioned off, cleared and developed into the Calanna Medical Centre and first Calanna Pharmacy in 1976. The realisation of a dream and the beginning of a legacy.
Now in the hands of the next generation, the group is still described by the family as something they built with their hearts and souls.
Mario’s son, Matthew Calanna, also an accomplished pharmacist, now heads up the business as the Group General Manager. Daughter Catherine Hackett-Calanna works as a store manager at the founding pharmacy in Woree.