A Brief History of Canton

The territory we now call Canton was originally part of the Massaco Plantation (now Simsbury) which was set aside in 1670.

This land was populated by the Native Americans under the leadership of Waquaheag (alias Cherry). Around 1700 young men began coming over from Simsbury in the summer to the confluence of the Farmington River and Cherry’s Brook to raise crops. The first house was built in 1737 by Richard Case, the first permanent settler. The first area to be settled was Canton Center, which revolved around the First Congregational Church, founded in 1750. Early North Canton settlers came over the King’s Highway (Farms Village Road / West Ledge Road / Route 309) from West Simsbury. Gradually four different villages began to emerge – Canton Center, North Canton, Canton Village (formerly Suffrage), and Collinsville (formerly South Canton). In 1806 a petition was made to the General Assembly, which was granted, establishing the Town of Canton.

Qualifications to vote in early days included the following: adult males; a member of the church; and ownership of land on which taxes were paid. By 1688 most of the land in central Simsbury was taken so fourteen western grants were made of 40-acres each, so young men could claim the right of “suffrage” (the right to vote).

The area encompassing Albany Turnpike (Route 44) and Canton Village was frequently referred to as Suffrage or Canton Street. It soon became the crossroads to Farmington and Litchfield. The Litchfield Turnpike was Old Canton Road and present-day Simonds Avenue. At the Farmington River there was a bridge to New Hartford, now Burlington. There was a road to Farmington that went over Huckleberry Hill from Canton Springs Road.

The town of Collinsville was originally South Canton and was very sparsely settled. The establishment of the Collins Company in 1826 and the following growth in population necessitated a separate post office. After much discussion, the name Collinsville was agreed upon in 1832.

Sources: Barber, Lucius – A Record & Documentary History of Simsbury, pages 40 & 49. Carlton, Lawrence – Canton Remembers. Miller, Donna M. – Images of America – Canton and Collinsville

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