Canton municipal offices are located at 4 Market Street, Collinsville CT 06022; phone: 860-693-7841.
The area was first settled in the 1730s; Canton was incorporated in 1806. Canton is approximately 14 miles west of Hartford, the State Capitol.
Canton is home to two historic districts. The Canton Center Historic District (National Register 1997) is comprised of about 70 properties in the vicinity of Cherry Brook Road (Route 179). The Collinsville Historic District (National Register 1988). Collinsville is home to the Canton Historical Society. Canton celebrated its bicentennial in 2006.
The Canton Library is located in the former Canton Elementary School at 40 Dyer Avenue.
Attracted by fertile soils, the first settlers arrived in Canton in the area that is now Canton Center. In 1750, the General Assembly created the First Ecclesiastical Society of West Simsbury. Prior to Canton's incorporation, the Society handled many of the present Town functions, including taxing local residents. After surveying the parish, the Society built a meetinghouse at its center, becoming the basis for the name Canton Center. The School Society of West Simsbury was formed in 1759 and three school districts were established in North Canton, Canton Center, and Canton Village. In 1806, the parish of West Simsbury was incorporated as the Town of Canton, with Canton Center serving as the seat of government.
In 1826, Sam Collins, his brother and a cousin bought a grist mill on the Farmington River in South Canton with the intent of using waterpower to help manufacture axes. Within six years, the Collins Company had built new forging shops and erected 45 two-family houses for workers. The village grew and prospered, tied to the fortunes of the Collins Company. In 1866, South Canton was renamed Collinsville and recognized as a separate village. In 1920, the seat of Town government was moved to Collinsville.
At its incorporation in 1806, Canton had 1,300 residents. By the turn of the century, the Town's population had approximately doubled, largely attributable to the growth of the Collins Company. Population growth slowed during the period of the Great Depression, but rebounded in the subsequent decades. The Town's population grew over 30% each decade between 1940-1970. The Collins Company continued to manufacture goods in Collinsville until it closed the factory doors in 1966. However, by that time, suburbanization was beginning to impact Canton and despite the loss of its largest industry, Canton continued to see new residential growth. The loss was not painless, as the Collins Company accounted for approximately one-third of the Town's annual revenue.
After closing its doors, the Collins Company holdings in Collinsville were purchased by a group of local investors calling themselves the Collinsville Company, led by Tom Perry. The Collinsville Company operated the factory complex for over 35 years as a business incubator, offering affordable rents in somewhat primitive spaces by today's standards. Many Canton businesses started in the complex, moving to larger, modern quarters as they outgrew their spaces.
Today, the Collins Company buildings are poised for redevelopment into a mix of entertainment, light industry, office, restaurant, residential, and retail uses. The idea for the redevelopment project came from the Connecticut Department of Transportation funded Collinsville Scenic Corridor Management Plan that suggested a new zoning designation for the factory complex, offering flexibility in use in return for protecting the architectural integrity of the property. The Collinsville Scenic Corridor Management Plan contains many other elements that will help to protect the character of Collinsville. It is hereby incorporated into this Plan by reference.