What We Do

Advocacy and Preservation

By way of the membership, the Canal Society can be a powerful advocate for preservation. In the past we have helped to save endangered old vessels, buildings, and sites. Your membership, along with hundreds of others, can be a powerful voice against the loss of historic places and objects.

Tours and Events

Throughout the year, the Canal Society will host various gatherings to help you discover the history of New York’s canals. Check the pages for these events.

Collections and Archives

For over 60 years, members of the Canal Society have been collecting and archiving materials and artifacts that help to tell the story of the canals of New York and other states, and even other countries. In addition to these materials, members have documented every canal and canal site they found with photographs, allowing us to go back into time to see how these sites have aged, changed, or disappeared over the years. These collections are available to researchers who wish to find original source materials. You can find out more on the About Us page.

Mission Statement

The Canal Society of New York State’s mission is to protect New York State’s canal heritage and its future through research, preservation, education and advocacy. Furthermore, the Canal Society seeks to fulfill its mission by working towards encouraging canal scholarship; promote interest in canals here and abroad; acquire, preserve and archive canal documents and artifacts; provide opportunities for field study, education and networking; promote good policy and wise use of New York’s canal corridors and operating canal system; and, advocate restoration or replication of abandoned canals, structures and vessels.


The Canal Society is one of the oldest canal enthusiast organizations in the country. The Society dates back to 1956 when a group gathered at the Lafayette Hotel in Buffalo to organize a society devoted to the history, preservation, advocacy, and promotion of New York’s canals. Since that modest beginning, the Society has grown to become one of the best sources for canal information, research, and networking. It is a membership organization that strives to serve the entire canal and historic community. There are many reasons that people join the Canal Society and membership in the Society is open to everyone.

The core of the Society is the membership. Among the ranks you will find boaters, walkers, historians, advocates, educators, business-people; in short anyone who has an interest in learning more about the canals of New York State. The strength of the Society is in the large number of people that it represents when it comes to preservation and advocacy. To help you learn more, we strive to present programs and events that address all these areas of canal use. Over the years, members of the the Society can claim a remarkable history of preservation, helping to save the Weighlock building in Syracuse, the Day Peckenpaugh motorship, the Erie House in Port Byron, and more.

Membership also aids in maintaining the Society's vast collection of canal related materials. Since it's beginning in 1956, the Canal Society and it's members have been collecting and preserving documents, photographs, and artifacts that help to tell the story of New York's Canals.  Members not only collected artifacts that related to the older canals, they documented the changes in the landscape throughout the years and noted changes to the current system. Over the decades, these personal collections have been donated to the Society so that in 60 years, the collection has grown to be one of the premier archives to be found anywhere. With this type of personal collections, you will find that the archives are not limited to the canals of New York, rather they include materials from all of the American canals and many overseas canals. Materials also include information on trains and other methods of transportation.

How to Contact Us

Information about membership can be found on the drop down menu.

As we are an all volunteer organization, the best way to reach us is by email or messenger.

Our email is: canalsocietyofnys@gmail.com 

You can find us on Facebook and use messenger to reach out.

Our real mail address is:

Canal Society of NYS, POB 303, Port Byron, NY, 13140