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April 01, 2016

Are We The North?

Are We The North?
Are We The North? Learning about Northern Ontario. 

Historians and Geographers have often noted that Canadians claim to be ‘northerners’ but they don’t travel or read about the north. In 1972, Daniel Francis wrote:
“Canadians may think that we are a northern people, but blessed little attention has ever been paid to the area or its inhabitants; unless, that is, the Americans show an interest in it, or there appears to be the possibility of some gigantic mineral discovery.”[1]
Louis-Edmond Hamelin echoed this concern in 1978 when he wrote that “for the very large majority of Canadians, the North remains a stranger in the house ….”[2] In their writing, Coates and Morrison focused on the provincial norths and stated that the northern areas of seven provinces are “the forgotten north.” [3] These historians felt that when Canadians thought of the north they saw the Arctic, and tended to forget the northern parts of most of the provinces.
Quite a few planners are experts on northern Ontario and for those planners I apologize if it sounds like I’m saying that planners don’t know the north. What I’m really trying to say is that southern planners may know as much about northern Ontario as I know about the south. The goal of my talk at the 2015 OPPI Conference (Oct.6-8th) was to bring the ‘forgotten north’ back into focus.  Hopefully, my talk helped to make Northern Ontario less of “a stranger in the house.” 
For starters, I’m attaching a map of northern Ontario that was discussed on October 6th (at my Ignite talk at the OPPI Conference). Have a look at the map and please label the major water bodies (e.g. Lake Superior, James Bay, Lake Nipissing) and try to pinpoint one or two of the five northern cities (e.g. Thunder Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste Marie, North Bay and Greater Sudbury). Dots have been provided on the map for one of the cities. Most dots are the locations for smaller towns and for First Nations communities. Also, and this is a real challenge – try to label the municipality which is the furthest north in Ontario! A hint –it’s either Pickle Lake or Moosonee. See if you can do as well as the conference attendees!
So, how did you do? Respond below and let us know how much you know about northern Ontario.

Read Sue's bio
[1] Daniel Francis, Centre for Research and Information on Canada (CRIC), 1997.
[2] Louis-Edmond Hamelin, CRIC, 1978.
[3] Ken Coates and William Morrison, The Forgotten North: A History of Canada’s Provincial Norths (Toronto: James Lorimer & co., 1992).

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s), and may not reflect the position of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Post by Sue Heffernan, RPP

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