The Canton Corner

Discover the Sweet Corn Capital of Michigan: Canton Township

Discover the Sweet Corn Capital of Michigan: Canton Township

by | Sep 25, 2023

Canton is a beautiful charter township in Wayne County, Michigan which is home to 93,018 individuals. This great town has also claimed the nickname “Sweet Corn Capital of Michigan”, due to its abundance of fertile land and fondness for agriculture that dates back to when it was first occupied by Potawatomi Indians. By having one of the lowest ranking crime rates of any location of similar size in the state, Canton makes certain that it still keeps alive the heritage and culture of its starts while welcoming new generations of people.

History of Canton

Canton is a rich and fertile agricultural area, its origins are traced back to the ancient Lake Whittelsey which extended westward from the present Lake Erie to the beach on the Ridge in Canton’s western sections. The Potawatomi Indians originally occupied the Southeastern Michigan area where Canton is now situated. They hunted for game in the abundant woods and streams and gathered natural foods such as berries present in the area. Even today, physical traces of their travels remain visible as trails like Ridge Road, Ann Arbor Trail, Geddes Road, Joy Road, and Michigan Avenue are still used. This proud history has helped shape the vibrant Canton of today.

The Clash Between Potawatomi and Settlers

The Potawatomi and the early settlers of Canton clashed when the newcomers invaded the area. Despite no injury to any settlers, the growing unease led to an attack on the Potawatomi. Chief Tonquish and his men were captured and tragically, his son was shot and killed during the same incident in 1819. It is believed that this was what ultimately caused the American Natives to abandon resistance and accept their fate. A Michigan State historical marker is proudly displayed on Wayne Road, commemorating the site of this event.

Despite the mosquito-infested swampland and dense timber, Canton was resiliently settled by newcomers. In 1825, the Erie Canal opened which attracted settlers from New England and upstate New York. Samuel and Philander Burd were the first men to be granted land in Canton, while Timothy and Rachel Sheldon built an Inn on Michigan Avenue that would eventually become part of a thriving village. With the Potawatomi’s defeat in 1819, their resistance was abandoned, and the area was cleared for homes, farms, schools, and churches. By the 1830s, Canton had developed into a growing community and many historic homes have been restored, such as the Philander’s home, which can still be seen today on Joy Road’s original site. A Michigan State historical marker is proudly displayed on Wayne Road, commemorating the site of the Potawatomi’s defeat and honoring their legacy.

Founding of Canton

Canton was officially established as a Township on March 7, 1834, making it the only township in the United States to retain its original name until the present day. Its six-square-mile area was bordered by Joy Road, Van Born Road, Hannan Road, and Napier Road. The city was named after the Chinese city of Canton due to the robust trade relations between the two countries. To ensure the successful governing of the Township, a Board of Trustees was put in place, and in 1874, a town hall was constructed for a cost of $700, able to accommodate up to 400 people.

In 1961, the population of Canton had grown to 5,300 and the Township proposed that it become a charter township to better serve the residents. This decision was supported by the citizens, as it would enable the Township to establish its police force, make traffic rules, and provide an improved level of healthcare.

“Sweet Corn Capital of Michigan”

Canton has an amazing history of self-sustaining development, starting with farming which provided for basic needs and excess produce sold or traded. Throughout the 1950s to the 1970s, Canton was promoted as the “Sweet Corn Capital of Michigan”, with sweet corn grown and sold at the Farmers Market in Detroit. Furthermore, Canton’s central location allowed it to benefit from dairy farming, and, with milk being distributed to larger communities such as Detroit through local creameries in Sheldon Corners and Cherry Hill, Canton continues to thrive today.

Additionally, with the 1827 Territorial Council ruling that a schoolmaster must be employed in any township with 50 or more families, Canton’s commitment to education has never wavered. As the population grew, so did the schools, with nine being built at the crossroads and made accessible for children walking to school, showing the community’s dedication to quality education.

Education

Canton is home to an Accredited School System:
– Nine Original Schools
– Comprehensive Academic and Extracurricular Programs
– Focus on Student Achievement and Success
– Professional and Dedicated Faculty
– Supportive Community Involvement

Canton is a thriving township with an enviable ranking of 96th in the United States for highest income. This affords its citizens access to full-service police and fire departments, a well-run township hall, a full library, a wide array of recreational activities, abundant volunteer and civic organizations, and much more. To top it off, Canton also has an accredited school system, composed of nine original schools.

The rich history of Canton is what has ultimately shaped the welcoming and productive community it is today, evident in its pursuit of agricultural wealth through resources like sweet corn. Although there have been unfortunate conflicts between its longstanding inhabitants and early settlers in the area, from which arose momentous cultural loss, the embodiment of events like Chief Tonquish’s enduring legacy carries on these memories for future generations. With passionate residents of diverse backgrounds, Canton deserves its proud place as one of Michigan’s most desirable charter townships, possessing a strong environment based on the appreciation of progress and pride.

Learn More About Canton

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