Canterbury, New Hampshire

Canterbury is a town in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 2,352 at the 2010 census.[1] The Canterbury Shaker Village is in the eastern part of the town.

Canterbury, New Hampshire
Town center: Canterbury United Community Church (L) & Country Store (R)
Town center: Canterbury United Community Church (L) & Country Store (R)
Official seal of Canterbury, New Hampshire

Location in Merrimack County and the state of New Hampshire.
Location in Merrimack County and the state of New Hampshire.
Coordinates: 43°20′11″N 71°33′53″W / 43.33639°N 71.56472°WCoordinates: 43°20′11″N 71°33′53″W / 43.33639°N 71.56472°W
CountryUnited States
StateNew Hampshire
Canterbury Station
Shaker Village
 • Board of SelectmenCheryl Gordon, Chair
George Glines
Arthur Hudson
 • Town AdministratorKen Folsom
 • Total44.4 sq mi (115.0 km2)
 • Land43.6 sq mi (112.9 km2)
 • Water0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2)  1.82%
599 ft (183 m)
 • Total2,352
 • Density53/sq mi (20/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s)603
FIPS code33-09860
GNIS feature ID0873559


First granted by Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth in 1727, the town was named for William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury.[2] It was originally a militia timber fort and trading post of Capt. Jeremiah Clough located on a hill near Canterbury Center, where the Pennacook Indians came to trade. The town would be incorporated in 1741.[3] There were several garrison houses or stockades in the area as late as 1758.[4]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 44.4 square miles (115.0 km2), of which 43.6 square miles (112.9 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) is water, comprising 1.82% of the town.[5] The town's highest point is an unnamed summit near Forest Pond and the town's northern border, where the elevation reaches approximately 1,390 feet (420 m) above sea level. Bounded by the Merrimack River on the west, Canterbury is drained on the east by the Soucook River. Canterbury lies fully within the Merrimack River watershed.[6]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20172,425[7]3.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
Main Dwelling, Canterbury Shaker Village
Shakers' Dwelling c. 1920

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 1,979 people, 749 households, and 590 families residing in the town. The population density was 45.1 people per square mile (17.4/km²). There were 838 housing units at an average density of 19.1 per square mile (7.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.59% White, 0.25% African American, 0.25% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.10% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.51% of the population.

There were 749 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.0% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.2% were non-families. 15.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the town, the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 34.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $58,026, and the median income for a family was $62,583. Males had a median income of $41,302 versus $32,313 for females. The per capita income for the town was $27,374. About 2.0% of families and 2.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 2.0% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

On the last Saturday in July, the town hosts the annual Canterbury Fair, which includes artisan performances, music performances and a 5K run.[10][11][12]

The town also hosts a regular Fourth of July parade as well a fireworks show by the town fire department.


The biggest attraction in Canterbury is the Shaker Village, established in 1792. At its peak in the 1850s, over 300 people lived, worked and worshiped in 100 buildings on 4,000 acres (16 km2). They made their living by farming, selling seeds, herbs and herbal medicines; and by manufacturing textiles, pails, brooms and other products. The last resident, Sister Ethel Hudson, died in 1992, and the site is now a museum, founded in 1969, to preserve the heritage of the utopian sect. Canterbury Shaker Village is an internationally known, non-profit historic site with 25 original Shaker buildings, four reconstructed Shaker buildings and 694 acres (2.81 km2) of forest, fields, gardens and mill ponds under permanent conservation easement. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark for its architectural integrity and significance.[3][13][14]

Canterbury has an active historical society hosting events throughout the year and maintaining the Elizabeth Houser Museum in the old Center Schoolhouse (original one-room school house) as well as an archive of Canterbury-related materials dating to the early 18th-century.[15] Among notable works in the archive are the Lunther Cody Collection of Glass Negatives, documenting classic life in New England.[16][17]

Parks and recreation

Canterbury is home to Ayers State Forest and Shaker State Forest. Ayers State Forest covers 50 acres (20 ha), and Shaker State Forest is 226.5 acres (91.7 ha).[18]

Notable people


Images of Canterbury:

View of Canterbury Shaker Village

Canterbury Shaker Village c. 1906

The Worsted Church, Canterbury, NH

Worsted Church c. 1906

Trustees' Office, Canterbury Shaker Village

Shakers' Office c. 1905

Pleasant View, Canterbury, NH

Pleasant View Inn c. 1910

General View of Canterbury Shaker Village

Shaker Village c. 1920


  1. ^ United States Census Bureau, American FactFinder, 2010 Census figures. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  2. ^ "Profile for Canterbury, New Hampshire, NH". ePodunk. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Canterbury, NH" (PDF). Economic & Labor Market Information Bureau. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  4. ^ James Otis Lyford (1912). History of the Town of Canterbury, New Hampshire, 1727-1912: Genealogy and appendix. Rumfeld. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  5. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001) - Canterbury town, New Hampshire". U.S. Census Bureau American Factfinder. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  6. ^ Foster, Debra H.; Batorfalvy, Tatianna N.; Medalie, Laura (1995). Water Use in New Hampshire: An Activities Guide for Teachers. U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey.
  7. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (PEPANNRES): Minor Civil Divisions – New Hampshire". Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  10. ^ "Canterbury Fair 2013". Canterbury Country Fair. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  11. ^ "Official Site of the Canterbury Woodchuck Classic 5K Road Race". Canterbury Fair. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  12. ^ "NH State Fairs". McLean Communications. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  13. ^ "Shaker Historic Trail". National Park Service. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  14. ^ "Canterbury Shaker Village". National Historic Landmark Program. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  15. ^ "History of the town of Canterbury, New Hampshire, 1727-1912". Internet Archive. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  16. ^ "Historical Society". Town of Canterbury, New Hampshire. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  17. ^ "The Luther Cody Glass Negative". Find NH History. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  18. ^ "List of New Hampshire Forests" (PDF). NH Division of Forests and Lands. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  19. ^ "FOSTER, Abiel, (1735 - 1806)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  20. ^ "Stephen S. Foster". American Abolitionist. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  21. ^ "HARPER, Joseph Morrill, (1787 - 1865)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 13, 2013.

External links

Abiel Foster

Abiel Foster (August 8, 1735 – February 6, 1806) was an American clergyman and politician from Canterbury, Province of New Hampshire. He represented New Hampshire in the Continental Congress and the U.S. Congress.

Benjamin C. Truman

for the English brewer, see Sir Benjamin TrumanBenjamin Cummings Truman (October 25, 1835 – July 18, 1916), was an American journalist and author; in particular, he was a distinguished war correspondent during the American Civil War, and an authority on duels.

He was born in Providence, Rhode Island and attended public school in Providence, followed by a Shaker school in Canterbury, New Hampshire. After a year administering a district school in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, he returned to Providence and learned typesetting. He was a compositor and a proofreader for The New York Times from 1855 to 1859, and later worked for John W. Forney in Philadelphia at the Press, and in Washington, D.C. for the Sunday Morning Chronicle.

When the Civil War began, he became a war correspondent, then declined a commission in 1862 to become a staff aide to Andrew Johnson, military governor of Tennessee, and Generals James S. Negley, John H. King and Kenner Garrard.

From Duelling in America 1992:

After the Civil War, Truman had a variety of jobs, serving for a time as a special agent of the Post Office Department on the West Coast, before going back into newspaper work. He shifted into public relations in the 1880's, promoting the state of California both in this country and abroad. After the turn of the century, he toured the Near East as a correspondent.Besides his journalistic endeavors, Truman wrote numerous books, including several on California history, and even produced two plays. He is best known, however, for his work as a Civil War correspondent. Through energy, resourcefulness, and not a little luck, he was often able to beat his rivals to press with important stories. During his extensive travels in the South, he sent many insightful letters to the New York Times, documents that are considered some of the most important resources of the Reconstruction Era.For his book The Field of Honor (1884), Truman collected accounts of significant European and American duels that illustrated the many variations of the code duello, as it was then known. The American portion of the book was reprinted as Duelling in America.Truman owned five newspapers, including the San Diego Bulletin, where he lived for a time. He died on July 18, 1916 in Los Angeles, California.

Canterbury Shaker Village

Canterbury Shaker Village is a historic site and museum in Canterbury, New Hampshire, United States. It was one of a number of Shaker communities founded in the 19th century.

It is one of the most intact and authentic surviving Shaker community sites, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993.The site is operated by a non-profit organization established in 1969 to preserve the heritage of the Canterbury Shakers. Canterbury Shaker Village is an internationally known, non-profit museum and historic site with 25 original Shaker buildings, four reconstructed Shaker buildings and 694 acres (2.81 km2) of forests, fields, gardens and mill ponds under permanent conservation easement. Canterbury Shaker Village "is dedicated to preserving the 200-year legacy of the Canterbury Shakers and to providing a place for learning, reflection and renewal of the human spirit."Visitors learn about the life, ideals, values and legacy of the Canterbury Shakers through tours, programs, exhibits, research and publications. Village staff, largely volunteer, conduct tours, and its restaurant serves traditional Shaker lunches and dinners spring, summer and fall.

Colby James West

Colby James West is an American freestyle skier from Canterbury, New Hampshire. A late starter in skiing, Colby took up freestyle skiing when he was 23 years old and broke into the competitive scene with a podium finish in slope style at Winter X Games XII. West is a three time Winter X Games bronze medalist. Colby has filmed many segments for Matchstick Productions.Colby is well known for his humorous internet videos such as the music video "My Friend's A Pro". Colby was featured on a television commercial for Worx Energy Drinks.

Cora Helena Sarle

Cora Helena Sarle (1867–1956) was an American Shaker artist. She was known by her second name as Helena Sarle.

Sarle was a native of North Scituate, Massachusetts. She became a Shaker at fifteen, in 1882, joining the community at Canterbury, New Hampshire, then led by Elder Henry Clay Blinn and Eldress Dorothy A. Durgin; she formally signed the Shaker Covenant in 1888. She suffered from poor health; consequently, to provide her with some occupation, Blinn asked her to illustrate native plants for the creation of a textbook to be used in the village school, a task which necessitated her spending much time outdoors in the area surrounding the community. Ultimately, she produced over 180 drawings. She had no artistic training, but her drawings are nevertheless well rendered. Under Blinn's direction she produced two botanical journals in 1886 and 1887, in which she depicted the flora of the neighborhood in watercolor.Sarle went on to a prolific artistic career, which she used as a means of earning money for the Canterbury community. Most of her surviving works are postcard-sized depictions of the Canterbury meetinghouse, which were sold in the community store. She also produced larger-scale, more ambitious pieces, often intended as gifts. Her materials were varied; she painted on canvas, Masonite, paper, board, and on any small objects she could find, including Band-Aid boxes and old boxes of typewriter ribbon. By the later part of her career, around 1920, the traditional Shaker proscription on decorative ornamentation had begun to relax; consequently, she began to decorate more utilitarian objects for use within the community, including ceiling light globes, an umbrella stand, and a variety of boxes. For much of her life she kept her studio in the Sisters' Shop in the village. Sarle was also possessed of musical ability, singing with Canterbury's musical groups the Shaker Quartet and the Qui Vive Trio and playing the cornet in the community orchestra. Ten of her paintings survive in the collection of the Shaker Museum and Library.Sarle's drawings, with accompanying text by Blinn, were published as A Shaker Sister's Drawings: Wild Plants Illustrated by Cora Helena Sarle in 1997. The volume also contains essays by June Sprigg Tooley and Scott T. Swank.

Ethel Hudson

Ethel Hudson (1896?, Salem, Massachusetts – 1992, Concord, New Hampshire) was the last surviving member of the Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire.

Henry Clay Blinn

Henry Clay Blinn (July 16, 1824 – April 1, 1905) was an American Shaker leader, writer, and artist.

Blinn was a native of Providence, Rhode Island, and began his career apprenticed first to a tailor and then to a jeweler in that city. In 1838 he joined the Shaker community in Canterbury, New Hampshire, where he would remain for the rest of his life. In 1841 he became boys' caretaker, a job he was forced to give up in 1849 when he was assigned to the print shop. Soon he returned to the caretaker position, only to leave it in 1852 upon his appointment as Second Elder under Robert Fowle. Three months later he became a member of the Ministry as second to Elder Abraham Perkins. He became First Elder of the Church Family in November 1865, and took charge of the public meeting in 1865, remaining in that role until public meeting at Canterbury ceased in 1889.During his life Blinn occupied various roles including printer, typesetter, publisher, writer, teacher, beekeeper, dentist, tailor, tinware maker and repairer, and cabinetmaker. He edited the Shaker Society's monthly journal, The Manifesto, and chronicled the community's history. He was also a maker of illustrated maps, although only three examples are known from his hand. They depict Canterbury and two communities in New York, Watervliet and New Lebanon, and are counted among the most important of their type. The image of Canterbury, made in 1848, is the largest and most elaborate of all such Shaker maps at nearly seven feet in length. As a printer he produced, among other things, a pair of miniature books for children, The Little Instructor and Dew Drops of Wisdom. He also edited two hymnals, A Sacred Repository of Anthems and Hymns of 1852 and A Collection of Hymns and Anthems Adapted to Public Worship of 1892. Blinn was a mentor to Cora Helena Sarle in her early years at Canterbury, and was responsible for introducing her to the art of botanical illustration.Blinn's 1839 map of New Lebanon is currently owned by the American Folk Art Museum. Several pieces of his cabinetry survive as well, including a sewing desk of about 1870, a dining table, a slant-front desk, and a large secretary, among other surviving pieces. Several items by his hand, including copies of the miniature books, are in the collection of the Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon.

Job Bishop

Job Bishop ( JOHB; September 29, 1760 – 1831) was an American early Shaker leader. A missionary, he founded the Shaker communities of Canterbury, New Hampshire, and Enfield, New Hampshire.

John Kimball (New Hampshire)

John Kimball (April 13, 1821 – June 1, 1912) was an American engineer and politician who served as the mayor of Concord, New Hampshire and as the President of the New Hampshire Senate.

Joseph M. Harper

Joseph Merrill Harper (June 21, 1787 – January 15, 1865) was an American physician, banker and Jacksonian politician in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. He served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, the New Hampshire State Senate and the New Hampshire House of Representatives and was Acting Governor of New Hampshire.

Joshua Bussell

Joshua Bussell (1816–1900) was an American Shaker artist.

Bussell entered the Shaker community at Alfred, Maine with his family in 1829, and remained there until his death, a resident of its Second Family; he became an Elder in 1863. A cobbler by trade, he began producing maps of Shaker villages in 1845, carrying the tradition later into the nineteenth century than any other Shaker artist and developing a style which gradually evolved into fully developed watercolor paintings. His subjects included the Shaker villages at Alfred and New Gloucester, the latter's Poland Hill family, and the community at Canterbury, New Hampshire. He also composed hymns, including "Jubilee", which long remained in the repertoire of Maine Shakers. Robert P. Emlen has attributed seventeen drawings in total to Bussell.A Bussell map of the Alfred community is currently owned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Another view of the same community is in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum.

Joshua L. Foster

Joshua Lane Foster (born October 10, 1824, in Canterbury, New Hampshire - d. January 29, 1900, in Dover, New Hampshire) was the founder of the newspaper Foster's Daily Democrat in 1872. Originally he founded the newspaper as a pro-slavery alternate view to the anti-slavery North-East. The Democrat is still run today by the Foster family. It is one of the few independent newspapers left. Foster said this in the first issue of Fosters:

"We shall devote these columns mainly to the material and vital interests of Dover and vicinity. Whatever may tend to benefit this people and enhance their prosperity, will receive our warm and enthusiastic support."

Kenneth MacKenna

Kenneth MacKenna (born Leo Mielziner Jr.; August 19, 1899 – January 15, 1962) was an American actor and film director.

Louis St. Gaudens House and Studio

The Louis St. Gaudens House and Studio is a historic house at Dingleton Hill and Whitten Roads in Cornish, New Hampshire. The 2-1/2 story gambrel-roofed wood frame structure was designed by Moses Johnson and built in 1793-94 at the Shaker village in Enfield, New Hampshire. At that site the building served as the main meeting space for the Shakers, with a main meeting space on the ground floor, offices on the second floor, and guest living quarters in the attic space. The building is similar in construction to buildings designed by Johnson for the Shaker villages in Canterbury, New Hampshire and Sabbathday Lake, Maine.The Shakers stopped using the building in 1893, and sold it in 1902 to the sculptor Louis St. Gaudens. St. Gaudens had the building disassembled and moved to its present location, making a number of alterations to it in the process. Due to rot in some framing members, the building was shortened by 8 feet (2.4 m), and a porch was cut into one side. One of the two main entrance doors was relocated to the side of the building, and dormers were added to enlarge the attic space. The lower floors were divided into a living space (living room below, bedrooms above) and a two-story studio space. A 1-1/2 story ell was added in 1904.St. Gaudens was brother to Augustus St. Gaudens, who was a leading figure in the Cornish Art Colony that flourished in the early 20th century, and whose own Cornish property is now a National Historic Site and National Historic Landmark. This property was occupied by St. Gaudens and his wife until their deaths in the 1950s, and then by their son Paul, a potter.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Mary Mills Patrick

Mary Mills Patrick (March 10, 1850 Canterbury, New Hampshire - February 25, 1940) was a college president and author.

New England Southern Railroad

The New England Southern Railroad (reporting mark NEGS) is a Class III shortline railroad that operates out of Canterbury, New Hampshire, and serves industries in central New Hampshire, in the United States.

Raymond Buckley

Raymond "Ray" Buckley (born 1959) is an American politician from the state of New Hampshire who currently serves as chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, President of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, and as a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee. On December 21, 2016 he announced his candidacy to be Chair of the DNC in its chairmanship election. He withdrew his candidacy February 18.He is a member of the New Hampshire delegation to the Democratic National Committee, and served as the chairman of the eastern region of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2009. He has also been director of the NH Democratic Senate Caucus, and from 1998 to 2007 served as the City Democratic Chair for Manchester. As of March 25, 2007 he is the state chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Buckley was reelected state chair in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015.

Buckley served 8 terms (1986–2004) as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives where he represented southern Manchester, and served as Party Whip in that body. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from New Hampshire in 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. He served as the vice chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party from 1999 to March 2007, when he was elected as chair.

Soucook River

The Soucook River is a 29.2-mile-long (47.0 km) river located in central New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Merrimack River, which flows to the Gulf of Maine.

The Soucook River begins at the outlet of Rocky Pond on the border between the towns of Canterbury and Loudon, New Hampshire. The river flows south through gently rolling terrain, soon entering Loudon and passing near the New Hampshire International Speedway. The river passes through the village proper of Loudon, crossing a small dam, and continues south along a rapidly developing suburban corridor on the outskirts of Concord. The river forms the boundary between Concord and Pembroke and ends at the Merrimack River downstream from Garvins Falls.

There are extensive sand and gravel deposits filling the Soucook River valley, which has led to the creation of several large excavation operations close to the river. New Hampshire Route 106 parallels the river throughout its course, crossing the river four times.

Stephen Symonds Foster

Stephen Symonds Foster (November 17, 1809 – September 13, 1881) was a radical American abolitionist known for his dramatic and aggressive style of public speaking, and for his stance against those in the church who failed to fight slavery. His marriage to Abby Kelley brought his energetic activism to bear on women's rights. He spoke out for temperance, and agitated against any government, including his own, that would condone slavery.

Foster helped establish the New Hampshire Anti-Slavery Society, and belonged to the 'New Hampshire radicals' group within the American Anti-Slavery Society. Foster wrote anti-slavery tracts and published in 1843 a widely discussed book that met with protest and critical response: The Brotherhood of Thieves; or A True Picture of the American Church and Clergy: A Letter to Nathaniel Barney, of Nantucket. At Liberty Farm where they lived, Foster and his wife formed a link on the Underground Railroad, and helped fugitive slaves gain their freedom.

Places adjacent to Canterbury, New Hampshire
Municipalities and communities of Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States
Other unincorporated

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