Canton, Maine

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Canton is a town in Oxford County, Maine, United States. The population was 1,121 at the 2000 census. Located beside Lake Anasagunticook, Canton is a summer recreational area.

Contents

History

Canton Point was the site of Rockemeka, village of the Anasagunticook (or Androscoggin) Abenaki Indians. It is said the tribe had 500 acres (2.0 km2) cleared to raise corn, but in 1757 they were wiped out by smallpox. The land became part of a grant the Massachusetts General Court awarded to Captain Joseph Phipps and 63 other soldiers for their services during the French and Indian War. Called Phipps-Canada, it would be incorporated in 1795 as Jay in honor of John Jay, the first chief justice of the U. S. Supreme Court. On February 5, 1821, Canton was set off from Jay and incorporated, named after Canton, Massachusetts. [1]

Settlement began in the early 1790s when William Livermore, William French, Joseph Coolidge and Alexander Shepherd arrived. Others followed, principally from Massachusetts. The surface of the town is uneven in the outskirts, but smooth and level at Canton Point, where the soil was considered unsurpassed in the state for agriculture. The outlet of Lake Anasagunticook provided water power for industry, and Gustavus Hayford settled here in 1814. In addition to a log cabin, he built a sawmill and gristmill. First called Hayford Mills, it would be renamed Canton Mills, and now Canton. In the 19th-century, it had a machine shop to manufacture farm implements, a tinware factory and an iron foundry. [2] It remains the business center. The Rumford Branch of the Maine Central Railroad passed through the town in the late 1850s, carrying freight but also tourists. The community developed as a resort area for camping. [3]

In December 2005 the town began a project to relocate the town center and about 60 homes on the floodplains surrounding the Androscoggin River due to frequent spring flooding. Proposals have been floated to replace the vacated lots with parkland or nature trails.

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