The history of late Wisconsinan, pre- Valley Heads glaciation (about 18-15.5 ka) implies that major glaciological controls, as well as overall climatic warming, influenced the pattern of deglaciation in the western Mohawk Valley. The Middleville Formation in the West Canada Valley contains the most complete record of pre-Valley Heads ice recession in central New York. The lithostratigraphic succession was determined through detailed mapping and logging of measured sections, provenance study of diamicton units, and the analysis of declination of detrital remanent magnetization (DRM) in laminated lacustrine silt and clay. The initial recession of southwest-flowing ice from the Adirondacks and at least two glacial re-advances of the Mohawk Lobe are recorded in these units. Glacial Lake Newport, impounded in the West Canada Valley during ice recession, attained levels that required ice-damming by coalescent Ontario and Mohawk Lobes and a subglacial outlet across the Mohawk Valley to the Susquehanna drainage basin. Initial ice recession in the Mohawk Valley was mostly by calving of active valley lobes in deep-water (up to 350 m) embayments and not by regional stagnation and simple downwasting. A shift of ice flow from the Adirondacks to ice flow from the Mohawk Lobe marks the development of low-land lobes during pre-Valley Heads time before the complete uncovering of the Adirondacks. The later dominance of the Ontario Lobe in Valley Heads time may have been the result of (1) a reduced supply of ice to the Mohawk Lobe from a diminished Adirondack ice dome, (2) changing ice-flow conditions in Quebec associated with an eastern St. Lawrence ice stream and calving bay, and (3) nonsynchronous surging of the Mohawk and Ontario Lobes as these lobes became fronted by deep lacustrine waters at different times.