Where is North? In Canada, "North" is a state of mind
Any good Girl Guide or Boy Scout can tell you where "North" is, usually with or without a compass, simply by the position of the sun, or checking the sides of the trees for moss. True, a compass would be handy on an overcast day, at night, or during an eclipse. At night, however, any good sailor could point you towards north with one quick glance at the stars. That same sailor could also use a sextant in the daylight to "shoot the sun", and tell you not only where "North" is, but also where you are, in degrees and minutes of latitude and longitude. Of course, so could the average ten-year-old nowadays, using your car's G.P.S. (Global Positioning System).
Practically speaking, "North" is anywhere in the opposite direction from "South" from any given point or location . Hence, we can have a North Carolina which is actually south of both North and South Dakota. North Carolina is, however, still north enough to be north of South Carolina. Geography is so interesting, no?
From NATO to Classic Motorbikes, North is North
...or is it?
"North" to an astrologer...
Astrologically speaking, "North" takes on yet another significance - more of a what than a where . The ancient concept of the North Node, is deemed critical to your soul's journey. The three aspects of your life are shown in the Sun sign, which describes your personality, the North Node, which tells of your soul's needs, and the South Node, which shows what qualities you bring to this life from your past lives.
According to Elisabeth Spring, freelance writer and member of ISAR, the International Association for Astrological Research, the North Node is...
a Soul Messenger, describing the evolutionary needs of your Soul. When we act out the qualities of this Node we heal and nurture ourselves. It tells us in what area of life we need to bring emphasis, and some of the ways to do it. The North Node has a sign, a house position, and aspects, and is an excellent suggestion---similar to the idea of a personal guiding North Star.
"North" to a geographer...
Geographically speaking, North is more of a concept than a constant. The North Pole is the northernmost point on Earth, lying exactly opposite the South Pole. It defines geodetic latitude 90° North, as well as the direction of True North. At the Geographic North Pole, all directions point south; and all lines of longitude converge.
North Magnetic Pole is the point at which the magnetic field points vertically downward. It was determined by the Geological Survey of Canada to lie near Ellesmere Island, at 81.3°N 110.8°W in the year 2001, and 82°42′N 114°24′W, in 2005.
The magnetic north pole is estimated to be moving toward Russia at almost 40 miles (64 km) per year due to magnetic changes in the Earth's core, so though Santa's home may still be in the same place, especially in all our hearts, the reindeer may have to adjust their radar a tad each Christmas, and eventually, renew their passports.
Philosophically speaking, though, "North" is not a place - rather, it is an attitude; a way of responding to whatever life throws at you on any given day; a natural pre-disposition to independence, if you will.
What is it that makes a northerner, a "Northerner"?
It's partly an aptitude for standing on one's own, partly a mind-set that values self-sufficiency, resiliency, and mental toughness. It's equal parts pioneering spirit and a reverence for God's creation. It's a combination of a desire to build and achieve, tempered with respect for the land and all its creatures, of which we are but one.
Northerner's have been described as part dreamer, part visionary, and part honorable, stubborn cuss. They have been celebrated in story, song, and poem:
- "Call of the Wild", by Jack London
- "The Cremation of Sam McGee", by Robert W. Service
- Songs of the Sourdough: Collected poems by Robert W. Service
- "The Shooting of Dan McGrew", by Robert W. Service
- "Albert Johnson: The Mad Trapper of Rat River", by Dick North
- "The People of the Deer", by Farley Mowat
Their heroic sagas and romantic foibles have delighted us on television, as well as on the silver screen:
- Nanook of the North - a 1922 silent documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty
- Sergeant Preston of the Royal Mounted - a series that aired in the late 1950s
- North to Alaska - 1960s romantic comedy
- Death Hunt - a 1981 Charles Bronson movie based on the story of Albert Johnson
- Glory and Honor - a 1997 film starring Will Smith as Matthew Henson, famous African-American polar explorer, and right-hand man of Admiral Peary
- Snow Dogs - 2002 family movie about dog-team racing
The video below, a great classic by Johnny Horton, features actual, historical photographs from the Klondike Gold Rush era.
Less historically accurate, but great fun nonetheless, the 1960 Hollywood version of "North to Alaska" featured John Wayne, teen-heartthrob Fabian, and Capucine. This Swedish sauna scene pits Ernie Kovacs as a traveling con-man, against "The Duke".
Just as the High Arctic is more than a beautiful, exotic travel destination for winter vacations, dog sledding, and polar bear tours, so the classification "Northerner" is more than a name for those who choose to live far from the dubious comforts of our major cities. The term "Northerner" transcends all artificial boundaries of nation and race, and can be applied to anyone who exhibits the traits and deep sense of community of a true Northerner.You probably even know a few who are worthy of the title...
- actor, Graham Greene
- singer, Bono, of U2
- actor, Morgan Freeman
- singer, Tina Turner
- celebrity contractor, Mike Holmes and his crew
- TV personality, Ty Pennington
- comedian, Rick Mercer...
© 2010, Text by Elle Fredine, All rights reserved