A clipping from a newspaper article on the naming of Canberra

A clipping from a newspaper article on the naming of Canberra.

It’s weird to think that this city wasn’t always going to be called Canberra. We were almost called Myola, Federalia or Pacifica. Imagine!

An eagle-eyed curator at the National Museum forwarded me this link to a 100-year-old news article published in the West Australian – on January 24 1913 – listing all the suggestions sent in by the Australian public for what to call the capital.

The list is extraordinary – I mean, Climax? Harmony? Labourville? Quickbarton? Commonwealth Circular City?

But take a step back first and think about the fact that so many people, all across the country, cared so much about this fledgling city that they felt compelled to weigh in. This wasn’t an official competition, mind. These suggestions were completely unbidden, and the sheer volume seemed to take the Department of Home Affairs by surprise. They took them seriously, though, and kept a record of them.

Canberra was one of the suggestions.

But then, so was The Aryan City.

And, these suggestions took a bit of effort! None of this calling up a website and clicking on a category (cheers, by the way, for the vastly improved Like Canberra website, Centenary Team). People back then had to put pen to paper.

People back then actually cared about little old soon-to-be Canberra. Doesn’t that beautiful, civic-minded spirit give you a warm, fuzzy feeling? The sense of hope?

Am I looking at this with rose-tinted lenses? Maybe! But I get a kick out of the idea that so many people thought Wattle should be somewhere in the name of the capital – Canberra does do wattle pretty well. And also, Paradise, Perfection, Peace, Harmony, Dawnville – do you think we Canberrans would be different people if we lived in a place called Pandora?