Rurality and Northern Reality


  • Frank M. Stark University of Toronto
  • Steve Gravel
  • David Robinson Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario


From the examination of the concepts of both “rurality” and the “North,” the geographical and “technical” meanings of these concepts are socially and politically based. The quantitative, technical definitions tend to focus either on a simple variable related to distance from urban areas, or size of population, regardless of what lies between. There is also a dominant, socially created association between the rural and an agricultural or suburban setting. Lacking alternative symbols and concepts of the North on the public stage, the old stereotypes, often reflecting colonialism, still apply. This perspective has resulted in a lack of recognition by political actors of the particular characteristics of rural and northern regions and the communities that dwell within them, including the Boreal Shield ecozone; particularly a meaning of rurality that excludes “extractive” communities. Further, this lack of awareness is reinforced by the fact that the Boreal Shield and other northern ecosystems in much of the North are divided by provincial boundaries.

Author Biographies

Frank M. Stark, University of Toronto

Research Associate, Trinity College, Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto

Steve Gravel

Research Fellow, Institute for Northern Ontario Research and Development, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

David Robinson, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario




Political and Economic Change in Canada's Provincial Norths