Parks & Projects
Heritage Park occupies two beautifully maintained islands in the Grasse River a short walk from Canton’s downtown business district. It’s open to the public year round and offers its visitors a wide array of features to enjoy, from a garden-like setting for family picnics to quiet walking trails through the woods and educational signage about local history, all within sight and sound of the east and west channels of the river (Read more)
Dwight Church Park
Dwight Church Park is a pocket park located at the corner of Main and Gouverneur Streets overlooking the river. It is named for a figure important in the life of the community during the early to mid-20th century whose house and studio stood on this site. Church Park is graced by flowering trees, lilacs (a favorite of Church’s), a majestic apple tree, and benches with a view across the river to Willow Island and the village beyond. The park is easily reached on foot from the parking lots on Coakley and Willow Islands.
Willow Island Sculpture Garden
Willow Island Sculpture Garden is an outdoor art gallery. It offers an opportunity to view impressive works by award-winning sculptors against the backdrop of the Grasse River. The pieces on display are rotated, but remain for an extended duration, so that viewers can return to them and experience them in different lights and different seasons, before they are replaced with a new installation and entirely different experience.
The first group of sculptures was installed in 2016. It included works by Coral Lambert, John Clement, Peter Lundberg, and Doug Schatz (who curated the exhibition) and featured massive abstract formations in steel, concrete, and other industrial materials. They engaged, by design, a theme in confluent with the aesthetic of Heritage Park, which lies directly across Main Street, inviting the viewer to think about the connections between landscape and industry, between the natural and the human morphology, connections that are central to our cultural legacy and sense of place in Canton.
Willow Island Arts Park
Grasse River Heritage shares Willow Island with the Village of Canton. The section adjacent to Main Street, where the sculpture garden is located, belongs to GRH, while the parking area and the remainder of the island to the south, going by the name Canton Island Park, belong to the Village, which maintains that area as passive green space. When GRH opened its Sculpture Garden in 2016 we did so with two ambitious goals in mind. The first was to provide an exciting new space for the display and enjoyment of public art against the backdrop of the river. The second was to open a conversation about expanding that concept to the rest of Willow Island and to other art forms that flourish outdoors (Read more)
Willow Island toxic cleanup
In cooperation with St. Lawrence County, and under a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, GRH initiated a project to raze a former restaurant and decontaminate the site of a former gas station on Willow Island. GRH now owns and maintains the portion of Willow Island that lies between Main Street and the parking lot, which is now the site of our Sculpture Garden.
GRH acquired the former Gray Lanes bowling alley at 1 Main Street and the abandoned laundromat at 5 Riverside Drive, undertook a review for environmental contamination, and then sold the combined property to local developers with an agreement to upgrade it as a community resource in a manner consistent with GRH’s mission. The restored building, now known as Rushton Place, today incorporates office space for the Gray & Gray accounting firm and Northern New York Newspapers and five second-floor condominiums overlooking the river
Pyrites boat launch
GRH worked to initiate a process to develop a kayak and canoe launch on the Grasse River near Pyrites under a grant to the Town of Canton. The completed facility includes safe parking on Route 21 for car-top boat loading/unloading, an ADA-accessible trail to the launch site, and other amenities.
Canton Waterfront Advisory Committee
GRH has two representatives on the six-member Canton Waterfront Advisory Committee, where it had a strong hand in creation of the Canton Grasse River Waterfront Revitalization Plan (2010, updated 2018), the Canton Village Brownfield Opportunity Area Pre-Nomination Study (2011), and the Pyrites Brownfield Opportunity Area Pre-Nomination Study (2012).
GRH actively seeks collaborative projects related to its mission with other local organizations. For example, it is contributing volunteers and a test site to Nature Up North, which has launched a citizen-science project called MOW the Grasse (Monitor Our Waters), which tests and reports on water quality and conditions in the Grasse River. It hosts the annual State of the Rivers talk organized by the St. Lawrence Land Trust. It participates in summer programming for youth in Taylor Park on the Grasse River in Canton.