My Hometown Top

Almost lost: Rediscovering Canton’s hidden charms

The former Collins Axe Company in Collinsville, Connecticut. (Lia Arnold/YJI)

Canton, Connecticut, U.S.A. – A small town nestled in Northwest Connecticut might seem like just another quaint New England town. But it took the prospect of almost leaving this idyllic and familiar haven for me to truly appreciate it.

Having spent my entire life in the same house and town, I never fully realized the depth of my connection to it until the early months of 2020, when my mom shared with my sister and me that she had received a job opportunity to relocate to Singapore.

While Singapore promised unique experiences including a completely different culture and way of living, my 12-year-old self couldn’t see past the 18-hour flight away from all I had ever known.

A wooded path in Canton, Connecticut. (Lia Arnold/YJI)

The realization hit me hardest when envisioning saying goodbye to Connecticut’s rich and distinct seasons which held some of my favorite childhood memories. 

Autumn in Canton is marked by the transition to the vibrant colored leaves on the trees that eventually fall. The simple joy of raking leaves with my sister and then joyfully jumping into a pile in our yard created some of my fondest childhood memories.

A stroll along a nearby path during crisp fall afternoons, where locals are seen walking their dogs or biking, is a small thing I cherish.  

During the winter, my sister and I established our own ritual of visiting a local bagel shop every Sunday called The Blue House. Here, we order the same thing every week: I get a blueberry bagel topped with cream cheese and my sister gets a bacon egg and cheese sandwich on a plain bagel.

To us, there is nothing like eating a toasted bagel by the fire on a chilly December morning. 

A Canton, Connecticut bagel shop. (Lia Arnold/YJI)

Collinsville is a village located in the Southeast corner of the town of Canton and is most commonly known as the downtown historic district. The blend of 19th and 20th century architecture gives Collinsville its own unique and rustic charm.

Historically, the Collins Axe Factory opened in 1826 and mass-produced axes and other cutting tools to be shipped to the U.S. military during World War I and World War II.

Today, Collinsville is an artistic village with many antique shops and convenience stores.

A Collinsville business touts live music and comedy during the warmer months. (Lia Arnold/YJI)

Spring in Collinsville is particularly enchanting when flowers begin to bloom and the sun sets over the Farmington River. One Collinsville springtime specialty is a venue overlooking the river called Bridge Street Live, which hosts live music and stand-up comedy. 

Summers in Canton are far from dull, with ideal mid-70-degree Fahrenheit temperatures inviting outdoor activities. It is also not uncommon to see wildlife in this season. Every summer I see at least a couple of black bears frolicking in my backyard. One time I even saw one reaching for the trampoline! 

A black bear in the author’s backyard. (Lia Arnold/YJI)

In retrospect, it’s the seemingly insignificant details of Canton I never paid much attention to that I now find myself appreciating most.

If it wasn’t for the covid-19 global pandemic, I might have found myself in a bustling city with one perpetual season, not the distinctive charm and seasonal variety that defines Canton.

This experience of almost moving across the world provided me with a newfound appreciation for my little, yet significantly special hometown. 

Lia Arnold is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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