What makes Canton such a special place? Where in town do you go to escape from the daily grind, enjoy nature and the changing seasons and all their beauty? Since 1720, one of the most spectacular places in Canton has been . The “Res” is an L-shaped pond of epic lore, and many in town may remember hearing once upon a time that the Res was once a cow-pasture.
Indeed, in 1720, townspeople grew weary of this swampy stretch of land, which was reportedly abuzz with mosquitoes. Townspeople had the engineering foresight to build a dam, right off of Pleasant Street, and create this man-made pond, in order to create a vibrant ecosystem with lots of wildlife to combat the buzzing mosquito pests. Only decades later did and his legendary Copper Mill set up shop, along with other industry, and utilize this new pond as a source of power.
Flipping forward a few centuries, Reservoir Pond is of course no longer used for industrial reasons. It is the aquatic gem of the , which uses their pond-front acreage to engage dozens of handicapped children with the joys, thrills and warm summer memories of a camp-like beach. The iconic Mass Hospital Boat takes children out on the pond, in the true spirit of health and fresh air. Swimming programs are held on the pond, as opposed to being limited to an indoor pool.
A country club enjoys the warm summer breeze that sweeps across the Res. Countless games of golf begin with the beautiful early morning sun-rise over the pond. The flocks of geese and duck that serenely preen their feathers in the many shallow inlets on the far side of the Reservoir have an uneasy peace with the pre-programmed “automated goose sound” that the country club, like a desperate DJ, plays in an effort to clear the dance-floor (in this case, the waterfront of the club.) There is a weary truce, and most often, the ducks, geese and splendid white swans that majestically grace the pond each spring and summer are a sight to behold.
The “wall," the strip of stone that supports the dam that keeps this entire ecosystem in place, is one of the best fishing spots in town. Town officials have often stocked the pond with bass and trout, and all-too many sunfish have become the spiky prize for young children casting their first line. Turtles inhabit the pond, but tend to stay away from the crowds, who line the wall with their trucks and fishing rods most summer evenings.
Recently, the town of Canton purchased a large area of land off of Pleasant Street, near the wall. This land, which includes picnic tables, a playground and trails right to the waterfront, is perfect for family picnics, snagging a secluded fishing spot, or catching a view of the entirety of Reservoir Pond, which is much bigger than that which can be seen from Pleasant Street itself.
While this past winter has been far too memorable, it is certainly important to mention how townspeople enjoy the months. Diligent neighbors shovel once, twice and more to keep picture-perfect ice-hockey rinks from disappearing under the white snow. Thrill-seekers take out their warmest clothes and ride their ski-doos across the icy tundra of the Reservoir in winter. Ice-fishing along the margins of the pond has also been a centuries-long pasttime. Cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing atop the Res has also been a source of fresh air during the winter months for many snow-bound locals.
These are timeless traditions. They give the townspeople of Canton the opportunity to escape from the non-stop, stressful culture we inhabit and enter a timeless place, marked only by the rising and setting of the sun. On Monday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m., at , Canton voters will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show their love for Reservoir Pond, when an open Town Meeting will vote to accept Reservoir Pond as a gift from the current owners, an out-of-state industrial company who does not require the Reservoir Pond for its purposes.
If voters do not support the Town of Canton’s acquisition of the Res, the future of this habitat is uncertain. The worst-case scenario would leave the dam lifted, the water drained, and the Reservoir Pond being allowed to fester as a sprawling, L-shaped swampland.
If you have fond memories of Canton’s Reservoir Pond, or would like to make some, based on learning about the countless recreational opportunities described above, please show your support and attend the important town-wide vote on April 25! Consider the life and property-enhancing benefits of Reservoir Pond, and ensure that the townspeople of Canton can enjoy balmy, breezy summer evenings on their very own pond for generations to come.