Standish was once hunting and fishing territory of the Abenaki tribe, whose main village was at Pequawket (now Fryeburg) up the Pequawket Trail (now Route 113). In 1750, the Massachusetts General Court granted the township to Captain Moses Pearson and Captain Humphrey Hobbs, together with their respective companies, for services during the French and Indian Wars.It was to be called Pearson and Hobbs Town, but Hobbs died and none of his company took possession. In 1752, the land was surveyed and divided into 30-acre (120,000 m2) lots, although some soldiers sold their rights for whatever they could get. Those that did settle found their cabins razed by Indians trying to drive them away. In response, the veterans built at Standish Corner a stockaded fort, which provided protection until Indian hostilities ceased in 1759 with the Fall of Quebec. Pearsontown Plantation was incorporated as Standish on November 30, 1785. The town is named in honor of Captain Myles Standish.
Much of Standish is sandy plains covered with pine, yet farmers found considerable arable land. Watermills at various streams produced lumber, headings, shooks, barrel staves, carriages, clothing, flour, ice, plaster and packing boxes. The Cumberland and Oxford Canal opened in 1832, increasing trade between Sebago Lake and Portland. It was followed by the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad, which on September 12, 1870 began regular passenger service between Portland and Sebago Lake Station. Tourists could arrive by train in the morning, ride a side-wheel steamboat the whole length of the lakes, then return to the city by evening. The cost of the excursion in 1876 was $1.75 from Portland to Naples, and $2.00 from Portland to Bridgton, North Bridgton or Harrison. Standish also had railroad depots at Richville and Steep Falls. In 1998, Frye Island in Sebago Lake was set off and incorporated as a separate town. Today, Standish is both a recreational area and suburb of Portland.