Grasse River Heritage
Grasse River Heritage is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the Grasse River to a central place in the life of the community of Canton, NY. The islands adjacent to the village, once the industrial heart of Canton, lay for decades neglected and largely abandoned. Then a group of committed citizens came together to create Heritage Park, a unique facility that opened to the public in 2008.
Heritage Park resides on the traditional territory of the Akwesasne Mohawk and their ancestors, whose peoples have sought respectful and reciprocal relationships with the local waterways including the Nikentsà:ke (Grasse River) since time immemorial. These lands and waterways connect to the vast traditional areas of the Haudenosaunee, Algonquin, Huron-Wendat, and Abenaki Peoples. We recognize and deeply appreciate their connection to this place. Grasse River Heritage acknowledges its occupying role on these lands and wishes to respectfully work towards a unified path of co-existence and sharing. Its members are committed to honoring Akwesasne Mohawk, Kanienʼkehá:ka, Haudenosaunee, and other Indigenous peoples who have connections to this region predating our own. We ask that individuals visiting Heritage Park take time to reflect on and educate themselves about our diverse communities as a step in this process.
Today Coakley Island is beautifully landscaped and features a covered picnic pavilion and other amenities. From here most visitors cross a restored historic footbridge to the wooded 4 ½ -acre Falls Island, where interpretive signage explains the natural and cultural history of the site. A shaded trail around the island overlooks the churning cascades and channels of the Grasse as it flows north to the St. Lawrence.
Grasse River Heritage also built and now manages two other parks nearby. Dwight Church Park, at the village entrance, overlooks the Grasse and celebrates the life and contributions of a legendary figure in the history of the community. The Willow Island Sculpture Garden offers a rotating series of outdoor works of art by sculptors of international renown. Read more