Canterbury, New Hampshire

Coordinates: 43°20′11″N 71°33′53″W / 43.33639°N 71.56472°W / 43.33639; -71.56472
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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°W / 43.33639; -71.56472
CountryUnited States
StateNew Hampshire
 • Board of Selectmen
  • Cheryl Gordon, Chair
  • Kent Ruesswick
  • Scott Doherty
 • Town AdministratorKen Folsom
 • Total44.71 sq mi (115.79 km2)
 • Land43.88 sq mi (113.64 km2)
 • Water0.83 sq mi (2.15 km2)  1.86%
599 ft (183 m)
 • Total2,389
 • Density54/sq mi (21.0/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code603
FIPS code33-09860
GNIS feature ID0873559

Canterbury is a town in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 2,389 at the 2020 census.[2] The Canterbury Shaker Village is in the eastern part of the town.


First granted by Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth in 1727, the town was named for William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury.[3] It was originally a militia timber fort and trading post of Capt. Jeremiah Clough located on a hill near Canterbury Center, where the Pennacook people came to trade. The town would be incorporated in 1741.[4] There were several garrison houses or stockades in the area as late as 1758.[5]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 44.7 square miles (115.8 km2), of which 43.9 square miles (113.6 km2) are land and 0.81 square miles (2.1 km2) are water, comprising 1.86% of the town.[1] 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]

Adjacent municipalities[edit]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[2][7]
Shakers' dwelling c. 1920

As of the census[8] of 2000, there were 1,979 people, 749 households, and 590 families residing in the town. The population density was 45.1 inhabitants 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[edit]

Annual cultural events[edit]

On the last Saturday in July, the town hosts the annual Canterbury Fair, which includes artisan performances, music performances and a 5K run.[9][10][11]

The town 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.[4][12][13]

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.[14] Among notable works in the archive are the Lunther Cody Collection of Glass Negatives, documenting classic life in New England.[15][16]

Parks and recreation[edit]

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).[17]

Notable people[edit]


Images of Canterbury:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2021 U.S. Gazetteer Files – New Hampshire". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Canterbury town, Merrimack County, New Hampshire: 2020 DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171)". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  3. ^ "Profile for Canterbury, New Hampshire, NH". ePodunk. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Canterbury, NH" (PDF). Economic & Labor Market Information Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 14, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  5. ^ James Otis Lyford (1912). History of the Town of Canterbury, New Hampshire, 1727-1912: Genealogy and Appendix. Rumford. Retrieved April 10, 2008.
  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. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  8. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  9. ^ "Canterbury Fair 2013". Canterbury Country Fair. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  10. ^ "Official Site of the Canterbury Woodchuck Classic 5K Road Race". Canterbury Fair. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  11. ^ "NH State Fairs". McLean Communications. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  12. ^ "Shaker Historic Trail". National Park Service. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  13. ^ "Canterbury Shaker Village". National Historic Landmark Program. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  14. ^ "History of the town of Canterbury, New Hampshire, 1727-1912". Internet Archive. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  15. ^ "Historical Society". Town of Canterbury, New Hampshire. Archived from the original on June 15, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  16. ^ "The Luther Cody Glass Negative". Find NH History. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  17. ^ "List of New Hampshire Forests" (PDF). NH Division of Forests and Lands. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 29, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  18. ^ "FOSTER, Abiel, (1735 - 1806)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  19. ^ "Stephen S. Foster". American Abolitionist. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  20. ^ "HARPER, Joseph Morrill, (1787 - 1865)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 13, 2013.

External links[edit]