HistoryCanton was founded in 1805 on the West and Middle Branches of the Nimishillen Creek, and became a manufacturing center owing to its location with numerous railroad lines. After the decline of heavy manufacturing, the city's industry has since diversified into service economy, including retailing, education, financial, and healthcare sectors.While Canton was first founded in 1805, it was first incorporated as a village in 1822. Canton did not become a city until 1838. Bezaleel Wells, the surveyor who divided the land of the town, named it after Canton, China (an antiquated translation for Guangzhou). The name was a memorial to a trader named John O'Donnell, whom Wells admired. O'Donnell had named his Maryland plantation after the Chinese city, as he had been the first person to transport goods from there to Baltimore.