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Wood, Greg
L. A. B. Wade: Founder or footnote?
17th Engineering Heritage Conference: Canberra 100 - Building the Capital, Building the Nation
Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2013, pp. 30-36

Leslie A B Wade, the son of an engineer and brother of NSW Premier Charles Wade, was a senior, high profile, civil engineer in the NSW Public Works Department at the turn of the twentieth century. Wade was heavily involved with the expansion of the Sydney sewerage system, the design and construction of the Cataract dam and, some years later, the Burrinjuck dam and associated Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. He was appointed the first Commissioner for the MIA. However, Wade was also closely involved in the assessments of alternative sites for the national capital. His specific role was judging the adequacy of water supplies, the overriding practical consideration in weighing the contending sites. Indeed, in 1906, as the NSW government cast around for alternatives to Dalgety -- the Commonwealth's first preference that NSW had vehemently rejected - Wade, with others, quickly honed in on Canberra as the best site. The first government document that uses the label "Canberra" for that site option is a map signed by L A B Wade. He died prematurely. Banjo Patterson and Marion Mahoney Griffin were amongst those who later sang his praises, as did the people of Griffith and Leeton. But as is so often the way with engineers, his contribution and significance are largely forgotten today. The purpose of my paper is to redress this lack of recognition.

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