Canóvanas is located on the northeast area of Puerto Rico and has an area of 85.0 square kilometers (32.8 square miles). The name of the municipality evokes the name of the taino cacique Canovanax. It is known as the “brave town” an allusion to the feat of the cacique Yuira who lost her own life defending Spaniards against the tainos. It is also known as the “race town” where Camarero horse-racing track, Puerto Rico’s only racetrack, is located, and “the town of the Chupacabras.” According to the 2000 census, there are 43,335 canovanenses, living in six wards: Canóvanas barrio, Canóvanas Pueblo, Cubuy, HatoPuerco, Lomas, and Torrecilla Alta. The patron of the municipality is Our Lady of the Pillar.
Canóvanas is known for its achievements in sports, especially basketball and volleyball. One of the nicknames of the town, “the Indians town,” refers to the name of the basketball team, which won the island-wide championship in 1983 and 1984. The women’s volleyball team, “Las Indias,” has also has won several championships.
There are several factories in the municipality which produce shoes, clothing, electrical and electronic products, chemicals, and food. Agricultural production includes coffee, fruit, vegetables, dairy farming, and fowl. Canóvanas has grown steadily in terms of population and construction as a consequence of its economic development and proximity to the metropolitan area of San Juan.
The municipality is bordered on the north by Loíza, on the south by Juncos and Las Piedras, on the east by Río Grande and Loíza, and on the west by Carolina and Gurabo. It is located on the northern coastal plain, and the northern and central areas of the municipality are largely flat. The highest elevation of the Santa Inés ridge is in the northeast side, and rises to 100 meters (328 feet). The Asomante ridge runs along the South, with elevations betweens 656 and 2,296 feet (200 and 700 meters). The foothills of the Luquillo range rise up in Cubuy ward to elevations such as Mount El Negro at 2,592 feet (790 meters), from which there is a panoramic view of the San Juan metropolitan area and the town of Río Grande. Mount La Peregrina, at 1,903 feet (580 meters) and Mount Pitahaya, at 951 feet (290 meters) above sea level are located in Hato Puerco ward. The Río Grande de Loíza crosses the northeast area of the municipality. Other water bodies include the Canóvanas, Cubuy, Herrera, and Canovanillas rivers, and several brooks, notably the Bocaforma brook.
The history of this municipality is closely tied to that of the neighboring town of Loíza. The name Canóvanas is derived from the name of the taino cacique Canobaná, whose yucayeque was on the banks of the Rio Grande de Loíza, known at the time as Cairabón or Cayniabón. During the Spanish conquest, Canobaná, along with his people, were given to Miguel Díaz under the encomienda system, and the yucayeque became a settlement. The cacique, whose name is also written Canovanax, and the cacique Loaíza were favorable to the Spanish Crown. It appears that Canobaná did not participate in the indigenous uprising of 1515 in which the caciques Luquillo, Dagua, and Humacao were involved. Over the years the lands became known as Canóvanas and became a ward of Loíza, which had the status of partido.
By the early 20th century Canóvanas had developed significantly more than the other wards of Loíza. In 1902, through an act consolidating certain Municipalities, the Legislature incorporated Loíza and its wards into the municipality of Río Grande. Three years later, another law was passed repealing the first law, and Canóvanas reverted to the status of a ward of Loíza. Meanwhile, the town had developed as new highways were being built, especially state Highway 3, which crossed the municipal territory. As a consequence of the boom, in 1909 the Loíza municipal council passed an ordinance ordering the municipal capital to be moved to Canóvanas ward. There were two reasons for this: the prosperity of the ward and the isolated situation of the former seat –Loíza Aldea— from the rest of its wards. The move to the new capital meant that the municipal authorities had to acquire land to build a newcCity hall, a slaughterhouse, a city square, a butcher’s shop, and a cemetery; a street map was also drawn up. The next year the municipal offices, the court of the justice of the peace, and the other services offered by the municipality were moved.
The change provoked opposition among the Loíza Aldea residents and people from the northern area of the municipality. The conflict was such that the state legislature was forced to intervene, and in 1969, a law was passed recognizing both sectors as “clearly distinct populations” and making official the separation of Canóvanas from Loíza. A special committee made recommendations for drawing up the boundaries and the constituents of the municipality were consulted in a special referendum. In 1970, the governor proclaimed Canóvanas a municipality.
The flag has three stripes, two purple and one gold, bearing the coat of arms at the center. The symbolism is the same as that of the coat of arms.
Coat of Arms
The Canóvanas coat of arms is divided into three parts. The upper band has a broken chain and a crown on a purple field and laurel branches surround a basketball basket at the center on a gold field. The lower band repeats the purple field with a rising sun. The purple and gold were taken from the colors of the pendant of the “Sons and Absent Friends of Canóvanas.” The crown represents the rank of Cacique Canovanax. The broken chain symbolizes the separation of Canóvanas as a ward of Loíza. The laurels and the basket represents the 23 consecutive victories of the Loíza Indians basketball team. The rising sun alludes to the birth of Canóvanas as a municipality and the 16 rays refer to the number of mayors the town has had after its separation from Loíza. The turreted castle that crowns the coat of arms symbolizes the status of municipality. The motto under the shield commemorates the name of the cacique and the dates in which Canóvanas became the municipal seat (1909) and the year in which it became a town (1970).
Canóvana`s mayors since the oficial foundation of the municipality:
1970 Sergio Calzada
1986 Esteban “Tebo”Meléndez
1993 José Ramón “Chemo” Soto
Hon. José R. (Chemo) Soto Rivera
Places of Interest
• Old ceiba tree – This silk cotton tree, Ceiba pentandra, is more than 300 years old.
• Old dairy farm
• Town Hall
Jesús T. Piñero Residence and Museum – home of the first Puerto Rican governor or the island.
• Camarero Racetrack
• Our Lady of the Pillar Church
• Villarán Park– passive recreation park
• Plaza del Canovanense – the town square honoring the Taino Indians.
• Juan Francisco Arroyo Square
• Spanish bridge – one of the oldest bridges in Puerto Rico
• Ruins of the Canóvanas sugar mill
• Palma Sola panoramic lookout point
Rafael José Albandoz – House Representative (1957).
Juan Calzada González – first attorney for the municipality.
Milagros Carrillo– “La Jibarita de Canóvanas” – singer of décimas criollas, and television actress.
Julio Jiménez – House Representative (1929 – 1936).
Benjamín Morales – actor
Francisco F. Mundo – physician
Gloria María Pagán – poet
Rey Francisco Quiñones – radio announcer and actor
Enrique Sánchez Cappa – sports reporter
Luis Sánchez Cappa – journalist, named journalist of the year in 1976.
José L. Vázquez Calzada – demographer and college professor; former Secretary of Health.
• Three Kings Day Festival – January
• Corn Festival – April. A cultural fair that includes dancing, music, traditional food stands and exhibitions on the agricultural traditions of the town.
• Traditional Festival – October
• Christmas in the Country – December
• Caribbean Derby – December
The municipal flower is Allamanda cathartica nobilis or the Golden Trumpet, a perennial bush with dark green leaves and brilliant yellow flowers.
The symbolic bird of Canóvanas is the Puerto Rican ground dove, a small dove usually found in pairs roving about the ground. The rounded feathers are grayish and the bird has a short tail.
Note: These articles have been edited and checked by academics and specialists in History. Discrepancies may exist among historians regarding some data.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: June 04, 2015.
Images Gallery of Canóvanas
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