APA plants trees for a respected critic

‘He would have had a chuckle about it,’ George Canon’s widow says

From left, Fred Monroe, state Adirondack Park Agency Executive Director Terry Martino and Monica Young pose in front of a red oak tree dedicated to George Canon last week. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

RAY BROOK — The state Adirondack Park Agency has more than a dozen trees dedicated to former employees, commissioners and people who have had an impact on the Adirondack Park. And last Thursday, a longtime critic of the agency got not one but two trees in his honor.

George Canon is a former supervisor of the town of Newcomb, and died in 2017 at the age of 78. He led several groups that countered the APA by advocating for residents’ rights and was head of the Local Government Review Board and the Adirondack Associations of Towns and Villages. He was also a founding board member of Adirondack Architectural Heritage and president of the statewide New York Association of Towns.

During last Thursday’s monthly meeting of the APA board, Canon was remembered by colleagues as a tireless worker on behalf of the residents of the Adirondacks, as well as someone who was respected on all sides for his willingness and ability to forge compromise.

“I’ve never worked with or known a more honorable man than George Canon,” longtime North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore said. “The work that you did here will be long remembered.”

The APA has put plaques in front of both new and existing trees at its campus, and Canon’s plaque is in between a well-established red oak, while a cherry tree was also planted nearby.

A new plaque commemorates George Canon in front of the state Adirondack Park Agency headquarters in Ray Brook. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Monica Young, Canon’s widow, said the cherry tree is a perfect choice, and that Canon would have gotten a kick out of being honored by an agency he often fought against.

“It’s showing that his hard work has really paid off,” Young said, “that even though they didn’t agree, they could agree on certain things. He was for the people. It’s not about what we each want individually; it’s about what we want for the people who choose to live in the park, to make a living in the park.

“He would have had a chuckle about it. George was famous for his Manhattans — known as Georgehattans — and he was specific how it was made — with one cherry. And after we were going out and married, he had two (cherries) because I got the cherries and he got the drink.

“And so a cherry tree is so appropriate,” she continued. “And an oak tree — it’s tall and strong. George was short, but he was mighty. So both are very fitting for him.”

The APA’s “Forest of Heroes Arboretum” began in 2003 when Greenleaf Chase was honored with a sugar maple. Other inductees include Barbara McMartin (white pine), Clarence Petty (red maple), Anne LaBastille (serviceberry) and Peter Van der Water (wild crab apple).

George Canon accepts an award from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. (Enterprise file photo)