Canton, NC

Canton, situated in Haywood County, is a small town made up of 3.78 square miles.

2018 Best Guide to Canton, NC

June 18, 2018

Canton was founded in the 1780s, and the town was named Buford in 1889. In 1891, the name was changed to Pigeon Ford before the name was finally changed to Canton in 1893. 

The town is named after a place of the same name in Ohio, and this is because the steel that the town of Canton, NC used to build a bridge over the Pigeon River came from Canton, Ohio.

Canton's economy has centered around the local paper mill, which was founded as Champion International Paper. The factory was sold and renamed Blue Ridge Paper Company in 1997. Several years after this, Blue Ridge would be sold again, and the name was changed to Evergreen Packaging.  

Canton, NC is a small town located in western North Carolina, just west of Asheville and east of Waynesville NC and Maggie Valley NC. It's the second-largest town in the County of Haywood, and is with the shadows of Cold Mountain.

Resting at the bottom of Pigeon Valley, Canton got its name from one of the bridges crossing the Pigeon River, which consists of steel manufactured in Canton, Ohio. 

Canton was originally known as Buford, which was incorporated in 1889. Two years later, the name of the town was changed to Pigeon Ford, after the well-known low-water river crossing in the area. It seems the early residents had trouble making up their mind about naming the town because another two years later it was finally renamed to Canton. A local paper production facility, Champion International has been the main source of income for Canton NC since the early 1900s. As of 2012, there are 4,174 residents in Canton NC, an increase of about 4% since the year 2000. The town is about 4 square miles in size.

Canton is nestled among five hills along the banks of the Pigeon River in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Named after the town of Canton, Ohio, its moderate climate with four distinct seasons makes Canton one of the nicest places to live anywhere.

Canton is near major highways and within easy driving distance of the regional airport. Canton's beautiful residential communities lie along tree-lined streets on the hillsides. It is a beautiful small town.

Canton is the home of Evergreen Packaging - formerly Blue Ridge Paper - formally Champion Papers - Incorporated, Haywood County's largest industry. The mill produces paper and allied products. Two industrial parks have been developed just north of Canton. The newest industry to join the park is Echlin, Incorporated, a world-class supplier of automotive replacement parts. Echlin will employ 150 people initially at the new plant opening later this year in the Beaverdam Industrial Park with a prospective employment of 350 jobs in three years.

The Town of Canton is under a council-Manager form of government consisting of a Mayor and four members of the Town Board of Aldermen. Town council is elected every two years.

Canton has a recreation program as part of its services to its citizens. The Recreation Park has a large, modern swimming pool; playground; picnic tables; lighted tennis courts, and ball fields adjacent to the park.

Activities include "Pickin in the Park" during the summer months; a walking trail surrounding the park area; an annual Labor Day celebration; a festival of lights during the Christmas holiday season; and the annual, lighted night Christmas Parade. Canton is within easy access of several fine golf courses.

Hiking and nature trails and superior trout and bass fishing are a part of the nearby National Forest.

Nearby are the nation's two most visited national parks; Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway.

Located near Canton at Maggie Valley are the Cataloochee Ski Slopes with facilities for all classes of skiers.

Camping and outdoor living are at there best in the forests and campgrounds in Haywood County. There are many public and private campgrounds for the outdoorsman.


The median resident age in Canton is 38 years. The median estimated household income is about $39,000, making it about $11,000 less than the North Carolina average.

The estimated per capita is about $23,000. The average price for a home in Canton is about $140,000 (2016) which is $15,000 less than the North Carolina Average. Expect to pay about $630 a month for rent.

The racial makeup of Canton is 91% White, 2% Black, and 7% other. 80% of the population are high school graduates, with 14% holding a Bachelor's Degree or higher.

50% are married, 11% are divorced, 12% are widowed, 2% are separated, leaving 25% that have never been married.

Towns Nearby

Clyde, NC
Lake Junaluska, NC
Waynesville, NC
Cove Creek, NC
Bent Creek, NC
Maggie Valley, NC
Avery Creek, NC

Haywood County

Canton belongs to Haywood County in the western part of North Carolina. The county, named after John Haywood, is part of the Asheville, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.

In 1808, the county was formed from a part of Buncombe County. Haywood County has a population of 59,000 and its largest town Waynesville, with a population of nearly 10,000, is the county seat.

Haywood County borders Henderson, Buncombe, Swain, Sevier (Tennessee), Jackson, Transylvania, Cocke (Tennessee), and Madison counties.

Haywood County is made up of 555 square miles. 554 of which is land with the remaining 1 as water.


The population of Canton, NC is about 4,200. The population saw a substantial decrease in the 1980s and 1990s, but the town has seen steady growth since.


The elevation of Canton, NC is 2,615 feet above sea level.

Zip Code

The zip code for Canton, NC is 28716.

Area Code

The area code for Canton, NC is 828.

Politics and Religion

Historically speaking Canton and Haywood County have voted mostly Republican, with 62% going to Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential Election. This represents the trend for the previous four or five elections.

As of 2010, 29% of the population are religiously unafiliated (Nones). About 68% are Protestants, Catholics make up around 2%, and 1% other.


The unemployment rate for Canton is about 5% (2015), making it the same as the state average. Construction, food service, and administration make nearly 50% of the most common industries in the town.

Newspaper & Obituaries

The Mountaineer is the primary newspaper that covers the Haywood County area.