A kayaker approaches the Lake Anasagunticook lighthouse in Canton built by Charles Ray in 1932. The Canton Historical Society, the Lake Anasagunticook Association and the Androscoggin River Watershed Council will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Clean Water Act with canoeing and kayaking for the public July 31. Peg McCluskey undated photo

CANTON — The 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Clean Water Act will be celebrated July 31 with kayaking and canoeing on Lake Anasagunticook, also known as Canton Lake.

Liz Rothrock and Phyllis Ouellette, members of the Canton Historical Society and the Lake Anasagunticook Association, said their organizations and the Androscoggin River Watershed Council, along with Patriot Renewables are hosting the celebration. Patriot Renewables, the owner and operator of the wind turbines on Canton Mountain, is sponsoring a free lunch.

Jeff Stern, an environmental planner for the Androscoggin River Watershed Council, wrote in an email to the Lake Anasagunticook Association that U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie of Rumford was “inspired by the Androscoggin River, which in those days was one of the most polluted rivers in the country. … Muskie shepherded the Clean Water Act through to its passage in 1972.

“The CWA marked a turning point in Androscoggin’s fortunes; it has improved to the point that today it is becoming a major recreational drawing card,” Stern wrote.

Ouellette said the Androscoggin River and the lake brought early travelers to the town, established in 1821, and “(they) allowed industry to flourish.”

“The lake brought travelers from miles and miles away (even Boston and New York City) in the summertime,” she said. “They took the train and stopped in Canton for a day trip at the lake, or they stayed a spell at the many summer camps and hotels located around the lake and in town.

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“The lake provided more than beauty to the town’s history, it also provided economic support, exposure of the area to folks from away, and created lasting memories. It continues to provide a source of great enjoyment for young and old,” Ouellette said.

Events on July 31 will start at 10 a.m. at the town boat launch at 7 Staples Hill Road with a kayak and canoe paddle, followed by lunch and an exhibit at the Canton Historical Society Museum at 25 Turner Street. The building is handicap accessible.

The 1½-hour paddle will include a water testing demonstration by certified lake steward Tom Hamilton,  as well as a visual tour of several erosion control projects by Stern.

Visitors will also have an opportunity to shop at the Country Store Gift Shop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where Clean Water Act commemorative postcards will be available for purchase, as will many Maine-themed and handmade items. The day will wrap up with a tour of the Canton Wind Farm turbines on Canton Mountain.

Participants are highly encouraged to register at no charge for the day’s events at http://androscogginwatershed.org/event-4807518, although walk-ups are welcome. Those participating in the paddle are asked to bring their kayak or canoe and life jacket. Some kayaks are available for use; e-mail [email protected] to inquire.

For more information go to androscogginwatershed.org/event-4807518 or e-mail [email protected]

Kayakers paddle on Lake Anasagunticook in Canton. The Canton Historical Society, the Lake Anasagunticook Association and the Androscoggin River Watershed Council will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Clean Water Act with canoeing and kayaking for the public July 31. Photo by Liz Rothrock


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