The Township of Cann River takes its name from the river upon which it stands. The Cann River flows from the New South Wales/Victorian border, through the township and reaches the sea through the Tamboon Inlet.
Pastoralists first settled and grazed cattle in the area around 1840, but the project was abandoned after the local Aborigines speared and killed large numbers of cattle.
A pastoralist by the name of Alexander later tried to raise cattle, but a similar fate happened. Alexander, however, retaliated by shooting many of the Aboriginal people.
From about 1880 onward, other settlers arrived and the population of the area started to slowly grow.
One of the settlers, Morgan, used his homestead as the post office, but around 1900 another settlement was created about 9 kms to the north.
By 1921, the area supported 163 people, and there was a church, school, general store, post office and meeting hall. Cattle and pigs were the main types of livestock in the area.
In the late 1920’s the local people erected a medical centre. A branch of the Church of England called the Bush Church Aid Society provided nurses. At this time, access to Cann River was still difficult, as the roads had not yet been constructed, and were little more than tracks.
From 1950, Cann River started to grow, and several sawmills opened taking advantage of the enormous tracts of forest in the area. At its height, there were about 80+ people employed in the logging industry, many were overseas migrants, particularly from Europe.
At this time, there was only one teacher employed in the small school, but by the early 1960’s there were three teachers and the school could accommodate up to 79 students.
The medical dispensary and nursing service closed in 1964, but 8 years later a medical service reopened and was called the Cann River Bush Nursing Centre. The centre has undergone considerable change since then, but has consistently provided nursing care to the population to this day.
Cann River is vulnerable to extremes of weather; from serious flooding to bush fires. When it rains, the grasses and undergrowth flourish, but then when the rain stops, and everything dries and turns brown, this is the perfect condition for bush fires.
The timber industry is not as intense as it was, but farming remains a big part of Cann River’s economy. Now that there are top quality highways linking Melbourne to Canberra in the East and all points north, Cann River is an important place for tourists to break their journeys. As a result of the growth in the tourist industry, Cann River now boasts several cafes and restaurants, a hotel/pub, two fuel stations, its own ambulance service, a decent sized school, a DEPI office, resident police, a CFA service and an SES depot. The local coastline and inlets are very popular with recreational fishermen.