1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Canton (division)
CANTON (borrowed from the Ital. cantone, a corner or angle), a word used for certain divisions of some European countries. In France, the canton, which is a subdivision of the arrondissement, is a territorial, rather than an administrative, unit. The canton, of which there are 2908, generally comprises, on an average, about twelve communes, though very large communes are sometimes divided into several cantons. It is the seat of a justice of the peace, and returns a member to the conseil d’arrondissement (see France). In Switzerland, canton is the name given to each of the twenty-two states comprising the Swiss confederation (see Switzerland).
In heraldry, a “canton” is a corner or square division on a shield, occupying the upper corner (usually the dexter). It is in area two-thirds of the quarter (see Heraldry).