Canton was founded in 1805 by the explorer Bezaleel Wells. The city was named to commemorate John O’Donnell, who traded goods from Canton, China.

The development of the city was slow in the early years of the nineteenth century. Not more than 400 hundred people lived in the city by 1815. The primary reason behind the city’s slow-paced growth was because of the lack of transportation in and around the city. The initiators of the Ohio and Erie Canal extended help and built the canal crossing Canton. However, most of the city inhabitants did not allow the project as they believed illnesses would come from the stagnant water in the canal. Thus, the Ohio and Erie Canal traveled only near Massillon, Ohio, and not in Canton. Contrary to what Canton residents’ fear, the canal enhanced the life of Massillon dwellers. The residents refused another project as Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad contractors offered to establish a Canton track. Instead, the developers established the routes through Alliance, OH, resulting in its development.

Following the American Civil War, Canton, OH became a center of agricultural and industrial development. The city came out as the premier agricultural manufacturer in the northeast portion of Ohio. Another notable development for Canton was becoming the leader in iron production. Canton contributed almost five million dollars to its income because of its manufacturing industry. At that time, the Dueber Watch Case Company and Hampden Watch Manufacturing Company were the biggest names in the watch-making industry in town. These powerhouses employed an estimate of ten percent of the city’s entire population by 1890. These watch-making companies eventually joined forces. The company was operational until the 1930s. Significant growth in Canton’s population took place in 1890, with more than 26,000 inhabitants. William McKinley was among the notable persons who resided in the city.

In the era of the 20th century, Canton city continued to emerge as one of the leading manufacturers of iron and steel. Other important industries were also created during this period. Like the other cities in the country, Canton faced challenging times after Work War II. The decline in the city’s economy was due to their main industry’s lack of importance for the people at that time. Fortunately, other businesses, such as dairy products, continued to thrive despite the significant setback the city experienced. The majority of Canton’s population got their livelihood from corporate poultry farms. There was the Pro-Football Hall of Fame, which contributed to the city’s tourism industry. The first professional football league was established in the city in 1920. The Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Company came to be one of the most important businesses in the city in the 20th century. The main locations of Hoover Company were in Canton. Hoover employed a large percentage of the city’s population in the early 1900s. Diebold, Inc. and the Timken Company, both manufacturing companies were also big employers of the residents of Canton.

At present, Canton continues to experience a revival as it becomes a significant city for arts. Buildings built many years ago have been rebuilt and turned into commercial spaces.