Imagine having set up a nice farm on some really fertile ground, your family lives nearby, everything is going good. What could go wrong? How about a crew of ditch diggers coming right through the middle of your beautiful field of wheat digging a big ditch some 45' wide. What to do? You could sue the state government that's responsible, but then someone tells you something that will change your how outlook on the big ditch.
That's exactly what happened to Henry Dove. He first came to central Ohio around 1811 and set up his farm growing wheat. Then in 1825 the Canal Commissioners decide that the best route for the feeder canal that would connect the bustling capital with the Ohio Erie Canal going through Lancaster, was to go right through his beautiful farm that he had been working on for the last 14 years. He planned on suing the State of Ohio, suing the Canal Commissioners, maybe even suing the ditch diggers. But, as he was talking with one of the workers digging the big canal. and all the while expressing his displeasure at them being there, this worker gave him some free advice: build it and they will come. Or words something like that.
Dove's farm was just about halfway between Columbus and Lancaster, and the biggest thing to hit Ohio since the National Road, was being built right in his own backyard. What the workman told him he should do is instead of suing, he should layout a town that could serve users of the canal as well as other farmers from the area.
In 1828, Reuben Dove (one of Henry Dove's sons) recorded the first plat of land for Winchester, the new town he had created. He chose Winchester because that was the name of his father's hometown back in Virginia. The first canal boat passed through Winchester in 1831.
In 1841, the village of Winchester had become large enough to qualify for a post office. However, the USPS had a problem with the name: Winchester. They just had too many Winchester's in Ohio already, and because they didn't have ZipCode's yet, something had too change. So the USPS suggested they call the thriving little village Canal Winchester to distinguish it from all the other Winchester's.
Canal Winchester Today
Canal Winchester is a vibrant, growing community, with a small town feel (a population of just over 5,000), yet it is only 15 miles from downtown Columbus. The downtown area of Canal Winchester has been refurbished and is now a place where the community's history is celebrated. Many of the downtown structures have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Canal Winchester is home to 2 museums: the Mid-Ohio Doll and Toy Museum that displays 1000s of antique and rare dolls and toys. There is also an unusual museum dedicated to preserving the tools, fixtures and implements from more than 150 years of barbering.
Canal Winchester's Blues & Ribfest
In 2010, Canal Winchester added the Blues and Ribfest to their August schedule of events. This ever popular music and food street event was originally held in nearby Pickerington.
Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival
Canal Winchester puts on a grand Labor Day Weekend Festival that goes Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The event draws an estimated 35,000 visitors and has been voted the best Festival of the Year by the Greater Ohio Showman's Association. The Labor Day Festival began in the 1920's as the "Fall Festival" and has become one of Canal Winchester's favorite traditions. While it has gone through many changes over the years, the festival remains the small town charm that reminds us of the heritage of our community.
The Festival features a parade with floats, rides, an auto cruise-in, pageant, ice cream social, and live-entertainment acts.