Canaan, New Hampshire

Canaan, NH - Clark Pond
Clark Pond in Canaan, NH (Photo credit: Flickr)

With Canaan village and town green resting at the US Route 4 and NH Route 118 intersection, Canaan offers residents and visitors the classic small town New Hampshire charm. Located in Grafton County, east of Enfield and Lebanon, Canaan has a population of about 4,000 people. Home to the Mascoma Lake Forest, there is plenty of adventure for outdoor enthusiasts as well as piece and quiet for those looking to relax after a long day.

The Town of Canaan, New Hampshire

History of Canaan

Canaan gets its name from the hometown of many of the town’s settlers, Canaan, Conn., which was so named for the biblical land of Canaan. Canaan was chartered in 1761 by Governor Wentworth and then settled in the winter season of 1766/1767, when John Scofield arrived with his possessions packed onto a hand sled. Growing crops was made difficult by the landscape, rocks and uneven land. A road for the main street was constructed on a level stretch of land which now runs through town.

Now home to the Canaan Museum, Canaan Union Academy was built in 1839 after 500 men used oxen to pull the Noyes Academy off its foundation and burn it to the ground. The Noyes Academy was an interracial school founded by New England abolitionists. The school was made unpopular by residents who opposed to having blacks in town. Canaan Union Academy operated for 20 years and was limited to white students only. After the school’s closing, residents of Canaan became sympathetic to fugitive slaves and operated a station of the Underground Railroad to help slaves reach Canada or settle here in New England.

Succeeding the Boston and Maine Railroad, the Northern Railroad was constructed in 1847 which spearheaded the construction of hydro-power mills on the area streams. The Northern Rail is now known as the Northern Rail Trail. The trail is open for public recreational use. With the Northern Railroad came more people, by 1859 the population of Canaan reached 1,682 people and commerce was blooming just as fast.

Working in Canaan

Much like you’ll find all over New England, Canaan residents are entrepreneurs in their own right. Many small businesses operate in Canaan. Residents build their businesses on the necessities of every day life and the needs of the community. Listed in the Canaan business directory, you can explore many of these locally owned businesses.

Of course, with Canaan being only a 15 to 20 minute drive from Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Dartmouth College and the other large institutions, many residents travel Rt 4 daily to work in the Lebanon and Hanover area. People find that the travel is worth the benefits of living in a small, quiet town with lower taxes and less regulations.

Cardigan Mountain Trail
West Ridge Trail, Cardigan Mountain (Photo credit: Flickr)

Things To Do

Nature lovers rejoice! Canaan has all the nature you could want, right in your backyard. Peaking the top of the list, just outside Canaan, in Orange, NH Mount Cardigan is one of the highest mountains in the area and offers several different mountain top trails with spectacular views. Aside from Cardigan Mountain, the Northern Rail Trail runs from Lebanon to Grafton, NH with several access points along Rt. 4. The Depot St. access point in Canaan offers a grassy picnic area on one side of the trail and easy access to downtown, shops, restaurants, parks and playground on the other.

Cardigan Mountain Fire Tower
Fire Tower at the summit of Cardigan Mountain (Photo credit: Flickr)

Canaan has a community beach on Canaan St., across from the Meeting House. There is a shallow boat launch, swimming area, picnic area as well as bathrooms and changing area in the parking lot. Town permits are required to use this boat launch.

There are two other boat launches in Canaan. The Clark Pond boat launch is located at the south end of the public access road at Clark Pond, there is a parking area there as well. The Goose Pond boat launch and picnic area is located at the north end of Goose Pond. It is open to the public and maintained by NH Fish and Game. Swimmers often use this area as well, although it is not a beach. A small beach on Goose Pond can be found located at the south end near the dam, this beach is open to the public.

Aside from all these great water areas, picnic areas and hiking areas, Canaan also offers plenty of other things to do. Participate in a Horseshoe league at Williams Field and playground. Hop over to the Canaan Farmers Market (while in season) and enjoy locally grown produce and other goodies. Enjoy an outdoor concert at the town green, shop the yearly town-wide yard sale or enjoy the Canaan Old Home Days celebrations.

Living in Canaan

Canaan offers many benefits over other Upper Valley towns. Canaan provides opportunity and encourages growth of entrepreneurs and small businesses with their regulatory policies. Canaan does not have zoning regulations and their permitting process is very friendly to those wishing to build a business or bring their business to Canaan. This means less red tape and you wont get the run around just to operate a small business out of your home. Craftsmen, artists and other business people often seek out places with relaxed zoning regulation, as these towns encourage growth, commerce and prosperity.

The median home value in Canaan is hovering around $175,000. Outside of the town center, you wont find many neighborhoods. You’ll find homes built on their own acreage with large yards and plenty of nature. If you’re looking for a quiet place to live, Canaan, NH may be the place you’ve been looking for.

Canaan Town Website »