Chris Bourke reveals the first of 16 new suburb signs created to honour of Australia's past Prime Ministers, after whom many of Canberra's suburbs are named.

Chris Bourke reveals the first of 16 new suburb signs created to honour of Australia's past Prime Ministers, after whom many of Canberra's suburbs are named. Photo: Supplied

Canberrans may get to learn a little more about their suburb with the launch of new signs for the 16 suburbs named after Australian prime ministers.

The project is part of the Centenary of Canberra celebrations with the ACT Government spending $128,000 on the signs.

There will be four signs in each of the 16 suburbs, with all to be finished by the end of the year.

The signs have a photograph of the prime minister and information about their tenure and other life achievements.

Labor MLA Chris Bourke, representing Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, yesterday unveiled the first sign in Bruce, recognising its namesake, Stanley Melbourne Bruce, Australia's eighth prime minister.

''Bruce has a number of links to Canberra,'' Dr Bourke said. ''Not only was he prime minister for six years, he was also many years later chancellor of the ANU and when he died, his ashes were scattered on Lake Burley Griffin.''

Historian David Headon, an adviser on the Centenary of Canberra, said the naming of Canberra streets and suburbs could be traced to the 1920s when Bruce was prime minister.

''There is no equivalent [system] in Australia. I'm not aware of any equivalent in the world,'' he said. ''It was from a template that was worked out in 1923 just about the time Bruce became prime minister by what was then the Federal Capital Advisory Committee under Sir John Sulman. It's a template we still use today - the names are after well-known Australians, Australian flora and fauna and Aboriginal heritage,'' he said.

In the case of people, they had to have been dead for one year to have a place named after them in the ACT but 10 years for a place in the Parliamentary Triangle.

Dr Bourke said the signs were ''part of our commemorating the centenary project and our role as the nation's capital''.