Canberra Electoral Rolls

People Who Lived in Early Canberra

The Hotel Canberra 1928 or 1929

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Canberra Electoral Rolls by Ann Gugler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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The Hotel Canberra, known initially as Hostel No 1 - the first hotel built in the Federal Capital - was built by Contractor John Howie's men of Westlake.  The first half of the hotel opened in December 1924 and the second half the following year. The road in front of the hotel is Commonwealth Avenue.  The building near the Hotel is Albert Hall which opened in 1928.  In the top left and corner part of the Molonglo River can just be seen.  Today, the area at the back of the hotel and garages has a  small park which is on the edge of the waters of Lake Burley Griffin.  Work on the city of Canberra commenced in 1911. By mid 1915 work came to an almost standstill as men and money were moved to the war effort. Following the end of World War One in 1921 work on the city construction recommenced with all efforts turned towards the construction of the Provisional Parliament House and sufficient buildings and infrastructure to move the Federal Parliament from Melbourne to Canberra.  The electoral rolls reflect the fluctuations in population and the growth of the city.

Up until 1927 the majority of people lived in Canberra's temporary suburbs and camps.  These were meant to go by the end of 1929 but the Great Depression followed by World War 2 and subsequent shortage of houses meant that they remained into the 1960s and in the case of Causeway - to the present day.


This web is about the people who lived in Canberra. Following are transcribed copies of Canberra's Electoral Rolls and other documents that list the names of the locals.

The Federal Capital Territory [FCT] came into being in 1911.  From that time the people who lived in the territory until 1949 when Dr Lewis Windamere Nott became the first elected member of to represent the people of the Australian Capital Territory [ACT] in the House of Representatives in the Federal Parliament the people were disenfranchised.  

In 1989 the people of the Territory had their first vote for local government. The people of the territory were disenfranchised, but did get a vote on issues such as the 1916 & 1917 for or against conscription [World War 1]; a vote in 1928 to permit the sale of alcohol in the territory [banned from 1913] and from 1929 until 1989 a vote for the Advisory Council.  This council advised the Federal Minister for the Interior and I recall one case where an indoor heated swimming pool was planned - all the paperwork necessary was done etc etc - but it didn't happen because the Minister who was not responsible to the people of the ACT - said -NO.

Who could vote?  Only people 21 years or older who were British or Australian citizen who lived in the territory were able to enrol.  The 1929 electoral roll further reduced the numbers entitled to vote to the lessee or person paying the rent of a cottage in the Territory.  This included people who leased land in the territory who did not live here.

Many of the men who came to build the city who lived in the camps are not enrolled.  They were part of a transient labour force that may have been enrolled in their home state.

The name Canberra came into common usage by the settlers from the 1820s and by the late 1850s the spelling settled to Canberra.  The area was the Canberra Plain which is part of the larger Limestone Plain which is either side of the Molonglo River which runs through the central area of the city of Canberra.  Today the waters of the river have been damned to form Lake Burley Griffin.

Because the name, Canberra, was in use before the territory was formed, one comes across electoral rolls pre 1911 that have CANBERRA NSW.

Included in this section is the 1913 census for the FCT.  This was the year that many of the former freehold lands were taken over by the Commonwealth for construction work to begin. The first of the lands to be taken over were the Acton (former Canberry) on the north side of the Molonglo and on the south side Klensendorlffe's grant (then owned by Campbell family but referred to as Klensendorlffe's grant) and Yarralumla property. Land not required at the time was leased to farmers and graziers.  Some of the larger properties were divided into smaller leases.

Other web sites

The electoral rolls, Burial registers, articles on the locals can be found on my other web sites.

Hidden Canberra

Canberra Camps

These web pages contain far more detailed information about the people who lived and worked in the territory. They are about the Locals not the Federal History of the Capital of Australia.

Another web Early Canberra  has newspaper articles and other documents that include the federal story.  It also has an obituary section.  Another web - Canberra History Web has sections on local cemeteries and obituaries as well as local history.

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