1816, from Canton, former transliteration associated with name associated with the Chinese region now known in English as Guangzhou. The older form of the name is through the old British-run, Hong Kong-based Chinese postal system. As an adjective from 1840.
the dialect of Chinese talked in Canton and neighboring provinces as well as in Hong Kong and elsewhere outside China
His action was applauded by Young China at the time as evidence of patriotic self-abnegation, but events proved that it was chiefly inspired by recognition of the fact that he and the Cantonese group of politicians who had joined him as leaders of the Republican movement, did not yet carry sufficient weight to justify them in attempting to form a national government.