20th Century

Queanbeyan 20th Century Snippets By Gillian Kelly

Water
A weir with  a gravel and charcoal base filter was proposed across the Queanbeyan River. The weir was built in 1901, followed by a higher wall to conserve even more water but without the filtering system.

A New Start
Queanbeyan was affected by the depression in the 1890s and a drought that lasted from 1898 to 1903. The leading citizens of the day, with John Gale’s vision saw a way to head the town back into financial security through building a city on its doorstep. In 1899 the Queanbeyan Federal City Committee was formed to present the case. Finally it won and the Yass / Canberra district was chosen but from the start it was unclear which 100 square miles would be selected. Surveyor Scrivener included the town of Queanbeyan and Molonglo river catchments in his vision of the territory.

Vote No!
In 1910 there was a strong suggestion that Queanbeyan seek inclusion in the Federal Capital Territory so that while Canberra was being built Commonwealth business could be undertaken here. The question was asked in a referendum of Queanbeyan residents in 1911. Ratepayers rejected the idea by a wide margin. the residents of Queanbeyan preferred to stand alone.

The Town that Built Canberra
Queanbeyan truly became the town that built Canberra. Canberra was a skeleton of a community. The teams of builders, administrators, surveyors and the like chose to live here where there were shops, schools, churches and pubs in a real community.

The 1920s Boom Years
As Canberra took shape the government of the day decided that those who worked there would also have to live there if they were to receive the Government bonuses and incentives to move from Melbourne. This was a bitter blow to Queanbeyan’s economy, but Canberra had introduced prohibition, giving Queanbeyan at least the opportunity to offer good times across the border and the town became known for beer and Jazz! There were two movie theatres and a racecourse, cafes and pubs, frequent dances, picnics and sports days. The Royal Hotel and the Hotel Queanbeyan were both built in anticipation of the masses who would visit Canberra, especially for the opening of Parliament House in 1927. Both provided a welcome escape from Prohibition City.

The Town Becomes a City
By 1972 the town had grown to the extent of easily meeting the requirements of population and independence for a change in status. On June 14, 1972 there was a new proclamation – Queanbeyan was a city.

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