Collinsville is located along the banks of the Farmington River, in the southeast corner of the Town of Canton, bordered by the towns of Avon, Farmington and Burlington. In 1826, Samuel Watkinson Collins, age 24, his brother David, age 21, and their wealthy cousin, William Wells purchased a sawmill property along the Farmington River and began mass producing high quality axes and selling them wholesale throughout the world. The Collins Company constructed housing for its employees, as well as stores, a church, bank and hotel. In the 1920's, the Company owned as many as 190 houses in Collinsville. The first fire department was organized to protect the factory and its properties in Collinsville and the building and equipment was later donated to the Town of Canton's volunteer fire department.
The Collins product line grew to include 1,300 types of edge tools, including axes, adzes, machetes, hatchets, picks, knives, swords and bayonets. The Company built dams on the river to produce hydroelectric power to run their production and situated buildings strategically along raceways and turbines to take advantage of this source of water power. In 1966, after 140 years in business, the Collins Company closed its doors, due in part to losses experienced in the devastating Flood of 1955 and changing technologies and economies. Today, about 26 of the original 50+ factory buildings remain and are leased by a variety of tenants, such as; a multi-dealer antiques company, small offices, artist studios, woodworkers and metal workers. The former rail line, which Sam Collins brought to Town, has been converted to a walking and biking trail which connects to several area towns.
The Canton Historical Museum, located at 11 Front St., has a very large collection of Collins Company tools as well as a general store and many items from the Victorian Era. The former Valley House Hotel, on the corner of Main and River Street, has been converted to condominiums. The storefronts and homes in Collinsville retain their early Twentieth Century charm. Canton Town Hall and the the Collinsville Post Office are located downtown. Artists are drawn to the area and help organize a well-attended Halloween Parade each October as well as art shows and other entertaining events throughout the year.
A Brief History