The City of Canning evolved out of its beginnings as the Canning Roads Districts Board of 1871.

Later in 1961, the area grew to be a Shire, followed by a Town in 1971 and lastly a City in 1979. The following is a short history of the City.

The Canning region is characterised by the dominating influence of the Canning River. Despite the area varying in size and shape over the years, it is most typically described by the boundaries of the City of Canning despite the changes that have occurred through political change.

The Canning River or Djarlgarra

The Canning River, or Djarlgarra as it is known in Nyungar to the first peoples of the region, is a tributary of the Swan River. It stretches from its headwaters in the Darling Scarp to its southern-most reaches at Melville Water where it flows into the Swan River around Como. It was named by Captain James Stirling in recognition of George Canning, the British statesman and politician who served as Prime Minister at the time of Stirling’s discovery of the river.

The Canning region occupies the longest stretch of this significant river and it flanks both northern and southern reaches of the waterway, making it one of the few regions in the Perth district to occupy both sides of a large waterway.


Traditional custody of the region was shared between two Noongar tribes. The Beelo held the territory from the river to the hills while the Beeliar, led by Midgegorooo and his famous son Yagan, held the land from the Canning River to the sea.

After white settlement, eighteen Roads District Boards were gazetted by the State Government. Canning was number 11 at the time and the region was vast, extending westward from Bulls Creek to the Canning River where it joined the Swan River. The boundary then headed north along the Swan River to Midland before turning east toward York then south at The Lakes and lastly it turned west again at Mt Dale in Armadale and back to Bulls Creek.

Political unrest resulted in the abolition of the Canning Road Board in 1907. Two new entities were established and large sections transferred to the Belmont and Darling Range Road Boards. Modern-day Canning then emerged. In 1923, Canning gained parts of the abolished Jandakot Road District, and since that time, the physical constitution of the region has been largely unchanged, with the exception of some minor additions and deletions.

The City of Canning now comprises 16 suburbs either side of the Canning River. Its history is told at the Canning Local History Library within the Riverton Library.

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