Felix Arthur Burns was born on 17 Jan 1862 at 35 Skirving Street, Liverpool, England, a son of Felix Burns, an iron moulder, and his wife Laura Parry who married on 23 Sep 1855. As Welsh migrants the family lived in a poor, overcrowded area of Liverpool. Felix's parents separated and his father moved to Chelsea, London. By 1871 nine-year-old Felix was a scholar at the Liverpool Industrial Ragged School. Family legend says that he ran away to sea when he was 14 years old. He came to Australia on 9 Nov 1879, as the youngest crew member on the Elizabeth Dougall. The merchant ship sailed to Melbourne and then on to Sydney with its cargo of brandy and pig iron. Felix disembarked either in Sydney or Melbourne on its return voyage in Jan 1880.
Felix came to Tasmania and was working as a miner at Mount Zeehan by 1889. He married Frances Mary (Fanny) Murphy on 4 Nov 1890 at the Church of the Apostles, Launceston. They had eight children, all born in Tasmania. Ida was born in Launceston on 5 Aug 1891 and Essie at Campbell Town, Fanny's home town, on 21 Nov 1892. The family moved to the West Coast where Felix (Phil) was born at Strahan on 11 Apr 1894. Felix senior became the licensee of the Ringville Hotel; Dorothy was born there on 10 Apr 1896. He had a lease on a hotel at Dundas and later at Williamsford, where he became established. Four more sons were born into the family: Bernard, born Jan 1898, died Feb 1898; Clarence, 14 May 1899; Gordon Francis, 18 Oct 1901 and Terence, 26 Dec 1902.
In Williamsford Felix owned a butcher's shop, a store and stable, and even a hall called Burns' Hall. He had also a mineral lease of 80 acres at North Dundas. In Apr 1912 Felix unsuccessfully stood for election as a councillor in Montagu Ward, Zeehan. His wife Fanny died on 14 Dec 1926 at Williamsford aged 65 and was buried in the Rosebery Cemetery. Felix Burns moved to Victoria to live with his daughter Ida and died aged 80 on 14 May 1942 at Glenhuntly, Melbourne. He was buried at the Box Hill Cemetery.