To the people who wrote letters, kept diaries, took pictures and wrote books who lived the history of Canadice in the 1800s through 2000 - and to those who kept those letters and diaries and pictures and books so that future generations would be able to live, through them, those periods of time - a huge THANK YOU, including to the families who loaned these documents to the historian’s office so we could copy them.
A lot of words have been printed over the years about this town; those we historians rely on when queries come to us for information on a relative who lived or was supposed to have lived in Canadice. The other records we rely on are assessors’ records and Town Board meeting minutes.
John Hopkins, a previous town supervisor and historian, wrote - and the town published - The Canadice Chronicle from 1990 to 2000, when on John’s death it went unpublished for a year until Mark Malmender, the deputy historian, and I (the appointed historian), along with Dave Bott, my husband and our researcher, decided to have a go at it and did so - but keeping an editor was a problem, so we stopped.
There is so much material that the historian’s office has. I will attempt to bring you some of it in this article.
History starts long before the written word was invented, so with the first people to inhabit the area known by people as Canadice, we start. I at this time will take literary and artistic license and write this story of the beginning of the land we call Canadice.
In the beginning the planet Earth was a red fire ball of gases that later became a frozen white cold place and Mother Earth - being a woman and able to change her mind about the color of her home - got tired of the colors red and white and wanted the color green. So she did her magic and the earth warmed, the ice melted and as it receded made the lakes and hills.
She looked about her and was somewhat happy but wanted more, so she made grass grow and trees to take root even if the soil was rocky and had lots of clay in it, although there were areas that were sandy. She being a Mother, with a type of personality that liked to play jokes, made an area on what we now call Bald Hall with no trees.
Later as the indigenous people came to live here, they spoke of another story passed down through their history, by mouth. But for our story we will continue with Mother Earth and what she wanted this land to become.
As she looked at her handiwork, she thought that the sky should have something to enjoy the beautiful clouds, and so she made birds that flew and could eat the fish from the lakes that she had put in them, and then she thought the land must have animals, so she thought hard and put squirrels in the trees and bears on the ground - also bobcats, deer and many other animals. As far as we know, Canadice had no dinosaurs. Canadice did have wolves.
With all these things in place, she thought something was missing, so along came humankind and all was well in her world. She was a jokester, wasn’t she, to think that people would let her rest in peace. Her work was only beginning.
We were until 1829 a part of the Town of Richmond. At that time the New York Legislature voted to make a Town of Canadice. We formed our government in 1830. Canadice people came into this area from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and some from Maine.
Some families stayed for generations, but many moved on as the West opened up to settlers. The thing that drew them was cheaper land prices and better soil. Many could homestead for no price, and many did until someone who had paid for the land came along and removed them, as had happened to many in the town of Canadice. Those hardy people had come here from soil that was not as tough as the clay-based soil we have. They were used to removing rocks from the fields and cutting trees down in order to plant crops, but to find land with fewer rocks or no rocks and fewer trees to cut must have looked like heaven to them, so they moved on west to find that land.
If you drive west through Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and points west, you will find those who moved west took the names of the towns they left behind with them. With the help of some of them, we have pictures and letters they took from their time here in Canadice. In some cases we have letters they wrote from where they settled after leaving. Other pictures we have from families who stayed on and raised generations of family in Canadice.
The Canadice historian’s office has files of family genealogy given to it by those who stayed and those who moved on to a new life. This lets us know how people lived, when they were born and died.
We also have copies of wonderful diaries that tell of the everyday life of some of the families. Most are unpublished. One, from Alva Wilson Doolittle, begins on Jan. 1, 1869 and goes to April 14, 1881. The Paine family kept so many things they were like a museum, and we have been able to use these at times, along with diaries from the Dayton Becker family and the Ace family.
We go back to D. Byron Waits’ “History of Canadice,” written in 1786, and to Conovers History with Aldriches’ family histories for information. In the later years in local papers, several ladies wrote columns about what was going on in Canadice, including Mina Preston Johnson, Carol Coye and Amy Hopkins. So as the town historian I have a lot of written information to draw from.
The original boundaries of our town included Honeoye’s East Lake Road. A few years after incorporation of our town, the people over there, finding it hard to climb the Kimble Hill to attend meetings in the winter, chose to become again a part of Richmond.
We have parts of two lakes (the east part of Honeoye Lake and the west park of Hemlock Lake) and one whole lake (Canadice Lake) within our boundaries. Hemlock and Canadice lakes are part of the state forest system. (Honeoye is not.) We also have Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area in our town.
To try to describe the roads in our town in print becomes mind-boggling. The best way is to look on a map. We have Route 15A on the west, County Road 37 in the middle and County Road 36 on the east.
We have no business district, but we do have some businesses run from homes. There is still some farming going on in Canadice. Tree farms under the federal 480a program are popular here, which gives the town large tracts of unbroken forest land.
On many privately owned properties are ponds; some hold federal easements, which are different from easements made by the Nature Conservancy: They don’t prevent the land from being sold, but prevent the land around the ponds from being built on, and are overseen by the federal government.
Canadice, we feel, is a unique town. It has been called by some a Stealth Town. Make as you may of that, but the people of Canadice are a proud people and always have been.
In upcoming articles I will take from printed material more on the history of Canadice and what has been written about it.