Canton Church Historic Site - Townsend

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St. Joseph's Catholic Church, known today as the Canton Church was built in 1875-1876 by the first pioneers in Montana's Canton Valley representing many faiths. The church became Montana Territory's seventh church.

H.G. Sigety, Sigety House movers of Helena, moved the church from its original location in 1952 when Canyon Ferry Dam was enlarged. The water covered 4,000 acres including the original Canton village, a few miles north of Townsend. The church became the focal point for the displaced community. Eventually church members began attending services at the Holy Cross Parish in Townsend leaving the Canton Church in silence except for an occasional baptism or wedding. Rural residents Fred and Joye Meyer and their neighbors cared for the decaying structure for four decades. In 1996 they called on their neighbors to undertake a renovation of the building. The project commenced with the assistance of the Helena Catholic Diocese.

With the help of 100's of volunteers, two fundraisers and private donations the steeple was removed and rebuilt with dimensional lumber from a nearby barn that was being torn down. A new cedar shake roof was installed and the building was resided. The building was renovated inside and out. The hand-carved oak altar came from the church of the Sacred Heart which was razed in the early 1900's to build the Cathedral of Saint Helena. The original communion rail and altar have been preserved along with the organ, crucifix and vestments of the first priests who served there. Many artifacts are on display including some from the Toston Catholic Church. By 2003 the Canton Church was open for events and meetings by organizations and family reunions. The church and its nearby park functions as a public gathering place for musical recitals and historical presentations.

Mailing Address
Not Available

Street Address
3497 Highway 284
Townsend,  MT 59644

Phone: 406-266-3710

As you leave Townsend going east on Highway 12, turn left at the flashing light on secondary Highway 284, head north approximately seven miles. In 1954 St. Joseph's (Canton) Church was moved from its original setting in the Canton Valley and placed on ground connecting it to St. Joseph's cemetery.

May 30 - September 1 Every other Friday

3:00pm - 6:00pm

Not Available

Walk-Ins Welcome

Maps, Merchandise, Parking, Public Restroom, Tour

Art, Art Gallery, Cultural, Heritage, History, Photography, Tour