Canadian became the county seat when Hemphill County was organized in 1887. It is located on the Canadian River and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe RR in the northwestern part of the county. Early settlers held one of the first rodeos in Texas. Today Canadian is a chief commercial center of the county, that derives much of its economy from ranching and some oil activity.
Northwest of Canadian is the Black Kettle National Grasslands, administered by the National Forest Service. Visitors find campsites, cottages, picnic grounds at the small Lake Marvin, where fishing for bass, channel catfish and sunfish provide outdoor activities. Nature trails are popular during the fall foliage season and visitors often see deer, wild turkey, and waterfowl.