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Canal history alive at area institutions

The Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor, in an effort to preserve the Canal's special history, has issued a grant to two local cultural institutions, the Buffalo Zoo and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

The grant has produced the program "Erie Canal Connections," which is aimed at school children, grades three through five.

The program follows New York State education standards, according to Tara Lyons, Historical Society museum educator.

Local educators moved quickly to fill the spots available to attend the program.

Nonetheless, ample opportunities remain to experience the Canal's rich history.

Two exhibits remain in place at the Historical Society that are part of "Erie Canal Connections."

The Pioneer Room offers a look at life in Buffalo before the Erie Canal; the Made in Buffalo exhibit shows many of the innovations and products fashioned in the area that boomed after the Canal opened.

The Buffalo Zoo's Heritage Farm gives a hint of life for local residents during the Canal Days. It features many of the animal species which would have been found on area 19th Century farms. The exhibit's barn was originally erected in the 1800's in Niagara County before it was dissembled and reassembled, board-by-board, at its new location.

"I just think Buffalo wouldn't be what it is today, or what it was in the early 20th Century, without the Erie Canal," Lyons said.

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.