The first non-Native American visitors were by the Hudson Bay Company trappers and Alexander Roderick McCloud en route to California in 1828. The second known group of travelers to come this way, headed by Ewing Young, were driving 700 head of cattle from California to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. This was during the summer of 1837; and despite the crude trails, Indian attacks and other difficulties, he arrived at his destination with 600 head of the animals.
By 1851 a small log cabin with a dirt floor was located where 5 Street is now which became Canyonville’s first store. The proprietor was Joseph Knott, whose stock consisted of tobacco, overalls and whiskey…mostly whiskey. Joseph Knott and Joel Perkins also operated a ferry
across the South Umpqua calling the settlement Kenyonville.
As early as 1853 the first sawmill was in operation, manufacturing flooring for the homes of the new settlers. In 1852 a rush began when gold-bearing quartz was discovered and Congress appropriated $120,000 to build a military road from California to Oregon. The first school was established in 1863 with Binger Herman as teacher.
Canyonville is the third oldest settlement in Oregon and was incorporated in 1901. The Canyonville post office first opened in 1852 and the city was platted (laying out of the streets) in 1858. This latter date is accepted as the founding of the city, making Canyonville the third oldest city in Oregon. The sesquicentennial (150th anniversary of the founding was celebrated in 2008. The South Umpqua Historical Society has been successful in getting the Pioneer Museum in operation. This museum, located at 421 W.W. 5 Street offers more information about Canyonville’s Pioneer of the Past.
In 1923, Rev. A. M. Shaffer was traveling through with his family and stopped to work in the fruit harvest. He remained here and built Canyonville Bible Academy (now known as Canyonville Academy).