During the 1900’s until the present, the town of Canaan has undergone a number of changes. Family farms have disappeared, logging jobs have decreased and tourism is now one of the major engines that drives the local economy.
The Beecher Falls furniture factory, a division of Ethan Allen, closed its manufacturing unit in August 2009, leaving over 250 people out of work. Started in 1895, the factory at one time was the largest furniture manufacturer east of Michigan.
Click on image to enlarge
In recent years, competition from overseas has had an adverse impact on operations and only a few people are now employed in the rough mill. Although most of the factory is now closed, people in the community have a positive attitude and are confident the overall economic climate will improve in the future.
Being a border community with ports of entry in Canaan and Beecher Falls, provides a number of federal government jobs in the area. The Official Register of the United States first mentions a Customs Officer in Canaan in 1835.
Click on image to enlarge Beecher Falls Line House
Customs and Border Protection Inspectors (Formerly Customs and Immigration Inspectors) and Border Patrol Agents over the years have been actively involved in protecting our borders. The prohibition years presented many challenges and to this day, cases of smuggling contraband, drugs and people are fairly common.
Click on image to enlarge Seized Bootleg Liquor at the Border Crossing, Canaan, VT
In 1884 there were six schools in Canaan. They were situated in various locations including Beecher Falls, Wallace Pond, Canaan Hill and South Canaan. The school year was 18 weeks long with a total budget of just over $300.
During the 1900’s the above schools were closed and students were transported to the “new” school located in the village. This school, which was constructed in 1905, housed students in grades 1—12. A fire destroyed the school in 1944, forcing classes to be scattered about the community in various buildings until the present building was completed in 1946.
What is now the high school was constructed at a cost of $105,000. The original building housed grades 1—12 until the present elementary school was constructed in 1961. In 1977, a new gym was added to the high school. The Canaan school system has 242 students and is now one of the major employers in the area with a budget over three million dollars.
Click on image to enlarge Canaan High School 2008
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The land for the athletic field adjacent to the current elementary school was purchased in 1946. Since then a softball field with lights and a baseball diamond has been constructed on this property.
As a result of a grant from the federal government in 1989, the town created a recreation park behind the Alice M. Ward library across the road from the above baseball diamond. This property contains a walking trail, tennis courts, playground, basketball court, two soccer fields and two baseball fields.
The first high school basketball team was in 1915. Over the years, basketball, baseball and soccer teams from Canaan have successfully competed with other teams in Vermont, New Hampshire and Quebec. Many state championships have been won and town members take great pride in the accomplishments of their student athletes.
Click on image to enlarge First Girls Basketball Team
Click on image to enlarge First Boys Basketball Team
Sports remain an integral part of the community as evidenced by the adult bowling and softball leagues that exist. For over forty years, Canaan has hosted a major softball tournament the first weekend in August with over 25 teams from New Hampshire, Vermont and Quebec participating. This event is a fine example of the “can do”, positive attitude that exists in the town of Canaan.
For a more detailed, in-depth of the history of Canaan, please see “History of Canaan, Vermont” by Beatrice Schoff Holmes and “A Tale of Canaan People” by Perley E. Fearon. Information contained in this document was obtained from these sources.