Canoe River Campground consists of 34 acres of mostly wooded land surrounding a 10 acre body of water called Mill Pond with the river channeling through it. Mill Pond is appropriately named because it has been the home of several types of mill industries throughout the years.
Its rich history begins with Ephraim Leonard who, with support of slave labor, excavated this pond to be used to mine bog iron. His foundry is considered to be the oldest industrial site in Mansfield. When Mill Pond was exhausted of iron, Ephraim Leonard had bog iron shipped down by mules on tipcarts from Massapog Pond in Sharon, Massachusetts. Mill buildings on the property were then used by sheep farmers to wash wool.
Later, a gristmill was built to grind corn for cornmeal and to mix grains. When farmers could buy their own grain, the gristmill was transformed into a sawmill. Remnants of a sluiceway, an open lagoon used to store logs (to prevent worms from getting into the wood) still exist. This wood was used to build shooks (packing boxes) for tomatoes.
At the end of World War II, this land became a large duck farm with its major product being down for fill in bedding. Joe and Emma Gonsalves purchased this duck farm in 1959 to initially use the land across Mill Street as a sandpit for Joe’s construction business. Land behind the sandpit still hosts the gravesites of Ephraim Leonard, his wives, and former slaves.
In 1972, Joe built Canoe River Campground with Emma running the reservations from a small camper. Some of the duck farm's original buildings, used for hatcheries, still exist on the grounds (store/office/front recreation hall, workshop). Canoe River Campground continues to be owned and operated by the Gonsalves family and has 290+ sites including upgraded pull-through sites.
137 Mill Street, Mansfield, MA 02048 | Phone: (508) 339-6462 | Fax: (508) 339-5237
ęCanoe River Campground