The common wisdom in our region is that summer begins with Memorial Day and ends much too soon with Labor Day. For families with school-age children, the season is even shorter, beginning at the close of the school year in late June. Morning temperatures in the 40s enforce that belief, but there is still much to do and see and enjoy along the New York State canals right up to its official closing on Nov. 15.
No question that a canal outing in the fall is a different experience than one in mid-summer, but it is no less pleasant and enjoyable. The festivals with their flea markets, craft shows, music and parades are largely over. Life is calmer in the canal villages. Shop owners and folks you meet at the local coffee shops have time to chat and share with the visitor the ďmust seeĒ spots and the stories about their community. Trust me, every village and town has its own people, places and stories that they believe make their hometown special and unique. What is marvelous is that the local folks are right. Each of the 200-plus villages, towns and cities within the Canal Corridor is really a one of a kind. No cookie cutters here. Whether you drive, boat, drive, cycle or hike the canal trail this fall, you will have the opportunity for a wonderful experience, be it a major outing or a Sunday afternoon ramble.
Road Scholar: Adventures in Lifelong Learning,, may be just the thing for those among us who would prefer to leave the planning and the driving to someone else. After exploring the Canal Corridor, Road Scholarís planners created a 13-day tour: On the Road: Erie Canal. Monument of Progress that Shaped a Nation. This yearís tour, new to the program, is already on the road, but check the website for details for the future.
Afterthought: Donít dismiss this as a possibility because you live and/or work in a canal community. Palmyra isnít Middleport, isnít Scuylerville, isnít Lockport or Camillus or Medina or Waterford or any one of the†others. Your familiarity with the canal will make the visit to any of the others all the richer because of what you bring to it in knowledge and experience.
ďThese grants turn good ideas into reality.Ē The grants referred to are those made available to successful applicants by the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission. The words are those of Beth Sciumeca, soon to be former executive director of the organization that benefited greatly from her leadership. To learn if your canal-related project might be eligible, contact Andy Kitzman at (518) 237-7000 ex. 201 or at All applications must be in by Friday, Oct. 25, so donít delay.
A new-to-me canal-related organization that the boaters among us should know about is the New York Boating Club, Based in New York state and designed for New York state boaters and those who plan to boat our waterways, membership is free. Check it out. This may be your way to explore some of our 200-plus canal communities.
Vicky Daly is a former mayor of the Village of Palmyra.