Canning was born in Glen Cove and raised in Sea Cliff where he attended North Shore Schools. He has been engaged in civic activities for many years. Present and past community involvement includes: member, Knights of Columbus, Glen Cove; officer, Sea Cliff Auxiliary Police; director, Glen Cove CARES; director, Friends of Raynham Hall Museum, Oyster Bay; treasurer, Sea Cliff Civic Association; president, East Hillside Cemetery Association; lector, St. Boniface Martyr R.C. Church, Sea Cliff; member, North Shore Kiwanis Club; and director, Visiting Nurse Association of Oyster Bay-Glen Cove. John is also an Honorary Member of the Sea Cliff Volunteer Fire Department.
In 1995, Canning was elected to the inaugural Nassau County Legislature where he represented Glen Cove and the northern portion of the Town of Oyster Bay and served as Chair of the Committee on Governmental Services and Operations. He was also a member of two New York State Commissions: the Long Island Sound Coastal Advisory Commission and the Long Island North Shore Heritage Area Planning Commission.
Canning’s Hibernian activities have included being a member of the Irish-American Society and a founding member of Irish-Americans in Government. For the past several years, he has been the voice of the Glen Cove St. Patrick’s Parade, announcing the line of march at the reviewing stand.