County
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History

Continued

Located at the center of St. Lawrence County, Canton has been the countyís seat of government since 1830. Most county services and agencies, government operations and courts are located there. Cantonís primary industry is education. The village boasts quality elementary, secondary and parochial schools. It is also home to St. Lawrence University, a private liberal arts college with a New England style campus, and the State University College of Technology at Canton, a modern two-year state college. The two colleges provide a veritable potpourri of cultural and sporting events for the community. In the ice, the Canton Tech NorthStars have skyrocketed to a record 14 National Junior College Athletic Association Hockey championships and 20 regional titles between 1973 and 1997. The S.L.U. Skating Saints, often ranked nationally in Division I college hockey, have also claimed E.C.A.C. titles. The influx of collegians each year swells the Canton population from approximately 8,000 to 11,500 each year.

A Brief History of Canton

Daniel Harrington, a Connecticut native, established Cantonís first settlement in 1800. He built a small shanty along a rapid section of the Grasse River where the village of Canton is now located and attempted the first improvements for consideration of a settlement. He soon abandoned the effort and sold his holdings to Stillman Foote who is considered to be the townís first permanent settler and the man whom history has credited with being the significant force in the creation of Canton. In 1801, Foote led an expedition of a dozen Vermont pioneers to the territory. After several days of cold and rainy weather, these men were overtaken by fever and illness that claimed one life. Despite these obstacles, they established Cantonís first farms and homesteads. Four years later, Canton was officially erected as St. Lawrence Countyís sixth town. The village of Canton was incorporated on May 14, 1845.

Out of necessity, lumbering and dairy farming became Cantonís first industries. With the founding of St. Lawrence University in 1856 and the State University College at Canton in 1906, education at the public school and post-secondary levels became Cantonís primary industry. Total enrollment for the two colleges is about 3,500. Other large employers in the Canton area include the Kraft Foods plant on Buck Street, and Corning Glass on County Road 16. In 1992, Corning was chosen to manufacture the 8.1 meter primary mirror blank for the Gemini Project telescope to be built on Mt. Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The large blank was shipped from Canton plant in 1997.

Among Cantonís notable native sons were statesman Silas Wright who served as St. Lawrence County Surrogate Court Judge, New York State Senator and served in both houses of the U.S. Congress, before he became Governor of New York State in the 1840's. In 1844, he declined the nomination to run for Vice President of the United States. The Silas Wright House on Main Street in Canton was renovated and converted into a museum and information center for St. Lawrence County history and genealogy. J. Henry Rushton, was born in 1843 in nearby Edwards, N.Y. He developed a worldwide for the construction of cedar canoes, especially the Indian Girl model. His works were featured at the 1893 Chicago Columbia World's Fair. Renowned Western artist and sculptor Frederic Remington was born in Canton. He immortalized the western frontier in oil paintings and bronze figures that are now on permanent display at the Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg.

Canton also boasts the most successful junior college menís hockey program in the nation. During the last quarter-century, the Canton College menís team has captured an unprecedented 14 National Ice Hockey Championships beginning in 1973 to its latest title in 1997 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The NorthStars have also claimed 20 regional titles in the last 25 years. Since 1976, the team has traveled to several European nations including France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Holland to play international competition and learn of different cultures. By Bob LaRue

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