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Canaan, New Hampshire

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Canaan is a town in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States The population was 3,909 at the 2010 census1 It is the location of Mascoma State Forest Canaan is home to the Cardigan Mountain School, the town's largest employer

The main village of the town, where 524 people resided at the 2010 census,2 is defined as the Canaan census-designated place CDP, and is located at the junction of US Route 4 with New Hampshire Route 118


  • 1 History
  • 2 Geography
  • 3 Demographics
  • 4 Sites of interest
  • 5 Notable people
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Chartered in 1761 by Governor Benning Wentworth, the town was named after the hometown of many early settlers, Canaan, Connecticut, which had been named by Puritans for the biblical land of Canaan It was settled in the winter of 1766-1767 by John Scofield, who arrived with all his belongings on a hand sled The land was filled with rocks, making agriculture difficult The town constructed a broad road for its main street on a stretch of level land3

In 1828 attorney George Kimball helped organize building the town's Congregational church He was among the New England abolitionists who founded the Noyes Academy in March 1835, one of the first in the region to admit students of all races It opened with 28 white students, drawn largely from local families, and 17 black students; most of the latter came from outside the town and across the Northeast Many local residents opposed bringing blacks into the town On August 10, 1835, five hundred white men from Canaan and nearby towns used "nearly 100 yoke of oxen" to pull the building off its foundation, then burned it Fearing for their safety, the black students left town, as did Kimball, who moved to Alton, Illinois4

The Canaan Union Academy was built on the site Limited to white students, it operated for about 20 years Later residents sympathetic to fugitive slaves operated a station of the Underground Railroad to help the people reach Canada or settle in New England3

The Northern Railroad predecessor of the Boston & Maine Railroad was constructed to the town in 1847, spurring development Water powered mills were built on the streams By 1859, the population had reached 1,682, and Canaan had one gristmill, three lath and clapboard mills, and one tannery5

Canaan was the site of a famous train wreck on September 15, 1907 Four miles west of Canaan Station, the southbound Quebec to Boston express, crowded with passengers returning from the Sherbrooke Fair, collided head-on with a northbound Boston & Maine freight train Twenty-five people died, and an equal number were seriously injured The accident was "due to a mistake in train dispatcher's orders"6

On June 2, 1923, the Great Canaan Fire burned 48 homes and businesses, destroying the heart of Canaan Village East Canaan


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 550 square miles 142 km2, of which 532 sq mi 138 km2 is land and 18 sq mi 47 km2 is water, comprising 331% of the town1 Canaan is drained by the Indian River and Mascoma River Canaan Street Lake is in the center, and Goose Pond is in the northwest

The town center lies in the valley of the Indian River a tributary of the Mascoma River at the base of Mount Cardigan, which lies to the east in the neighboring town of Orange A mountain road leads from Canaan to a trailhead in Cardigan Mountain State Forest, where hiking trails on the west slope of the mountain lead to the bare-rock summit The highest point in Canaan is the top of an unnamed ridge approximately 2,270 feet 690 m above sea level in the northeast corner of town, overlooking Derby Pond

Canaan lies almost fully within the Connecticut River watershed, except for a tiny part of the northeast of the town, which is in the Merrimack River watershed7

The town is crossed by US Route 4 and New Hampshire Route 118


Historical population
1790 483
1800 835 729%
1810 1,094 310%
1820 1,198 95%
1830 1,428 192%
1840 1,576 104%
1850 1,682 67%
1860 1,762 48%
1870 1,877 65%
1880 1,762 −61%
1890 1,417 −196%
1900 1,444 19%
1910 1,408 −25%
1920 1,236 −122%
1930 1,301 53%
1940 1,377 58%
1950 1,465 64%
1960 1,507 29%
1970 1,923 276%
1980 2,456 277%
1990 3,045 240%
2000 3,319 90%
2010 3,909 178%
Est 2015 3,891 −05%
US Decennial Census9
1907 Canaan train wreck

As of the census10 of 2010, there were 3,909 people, 1,588 households, and 1,105 families residing in the town The population density was 735 people per square mile 284/km² There were 1,930 housing units at an average density of 363 per square mile 140/km² The racial makeup of the town was 971% White, 01% African American, 02% Native American, 10% Asian, 02% some other race, and 13% from two or more races Hispanic or Latino of any race were 08% of the population11

There were 1,588 households, of which 287% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 550% were headed by married couples living together, 94% had a female householder with no husband present, and 304% were non-families 233% of all households were made up of individuals, and 76% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older The average household size was 242, and the average family size was 28111

View of the Canaan Fair c 1906

In the town, the population was spread out with 209% under the age of 18, 66% from 18 to 24, 258% from 25 to 44, 337% from 45 to 64, and 129% who were 65 years of age or older The median age was 426 years For every 100 females there were 995 males For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 983 males11

For the period 2007-2011, the estimated median annual income for a household in the town was $62,226, and the median income for a family was $63,930 Male full-time workers had a median income of $46,250 versus $37,287 for females The per capita income for the town was $26,964 About 45% of families and 64% of the population were below the poverty line, including 57% of those under age 18 and 63% of those age 65 or over12

In 2014 the largest ancestry groups reported in Canaan were English 178%, "American" 174%, French or French Canadian 142%, and Irish 126%13

Sites of interestedit

  • Canaan Historical Museum
  • Canaan Motor Club, auto racetrack
  • Northern Rail Trail

Notable peopleedit

  • Daniel Blaisdell, US congressman14
  • Henry G Burleigh, US congressman from New York15
  • Frank Dunklee Currier, US congressman16
  • Joshua Smith, author Divine Hymns, or Spiritual Songscitation needed


  1. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data G001: Canaan town, Grafton County, New Hampshire" US Census Bureau, American Factfinder Retrieved January 22, 2013 
  2. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data G001: Canaan CDP, New Hampshire" US Census Bureau, American Factfinder Retrieved January 22, 2013 
  3. ^ a b Child, Hamilton 1886 Gazetteer of Grafton County, N H 1709-1886 Syracuse, New York pp 233–234 
  4. ^ Child 1886, pp 73 and 234
  5. ^ Coolidge, Austin J; John B Mansfield 1859 A History and Description of New England Boston, Massachusetts p 432 
  6. ^ "Canaan, NH Train Wreck of 1907", Reporter, 20 September 1907, hosted at Rootsweb
  7. ^ Foster, Debra H; Batorfalvy, Tatianna N; Medalie, Laura 1995 Water Use in New Hampshire: An Activities Guide for Teachers US Department of the Interior and US Geological Survey 
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015" Retrieved July 2, 2016 
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing" Censusgov Archived from the original on May 12, 2015 Retrieved June 4, 2016 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder" United States Census Bureau Archived from the original on 2013-09-11 Retrieved 2008-01-31 
  11. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data G001: Canaan town, Grafton County, New Hampshire" US Census Bureau, American Factfinder Retrieved January 22, 2013 
  12. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics: 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates DP03: Canaan town, Grafton County, New Hampshire" US Census Bureau, American Factfinder Retrieved January 22, 2013 
  13. ^ "People Reporting Single Ancestry: 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates B04004; Canaan town, Grafton County, New Hampshire" American Factfinder US Census Bureau Retrieved October 3, 2016 
  14. ^ "BLAISDELL, Daniel, 1762 - 1833" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved January 16, 2014 
  15. ^ "BURLEIGH, Henry Gordon, 1832 - 1900" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved January 16, 2014 
  16. ^ "CURRIER, Frank Dunklee, 1853 - 1921" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved January 16, 2014 

External linksedit

  • Town of Canaan official website
  • Canaan Historical Society
  • Canaan Town Library
  • Cardigan Mountain School
  • New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau Profile
  • Canaan, NH Train Wreck of 1907
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