Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Now again, exactly where is the North Country?

            Depending where a New Yorker lives, or used to live, the boundaries of the North Country change. The remaining two major North Countries, the state-sanctioned and the contemporary, are the largest.

State-sanctioned North Country

            The state-sanctioned North Country extends from the eastern shore of Lake Ontario to the western edge of Lake Champlain, and from the Canadian border on the north to the southern boundary of Hamilton County. As such, it is much larger and more stable than either of the traditionalist North Countries. The state-sanctioned North Country consists of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis Counties. The New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Regional Development Council, and the Empire State Development Agency serve people who live in the state-sanctioned North Country.

Contemporary North Country

            The contemporary North Country takes in the largest area of all the North Countries. It extends from the Canadian border on the north to the Erie Canal on the south, and from the shores of Lake Ontario in the west to the edge of Lake Champlain in the east. The contemporary North Country includes all of the Adirondack Park, 14 counties, 14 cities, 255 towns and almost 40 percent of the state’s geographic area. The Adirondack North Country Association, an economic development organization that also promotes tourism, serves people living in the contemporary North Country, as does North Country Public Radio.

Pliny the Elder

            So, given all the different boundaries people use to define their North Countries, exactly where is the North Country? The answer to that question is easier than it may seem. To paraphrase words widely attributed to Pliny the Elder, the ancient Roman naturalist and historian, the North Country is where the heart is.

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