I cover the Champlain Valley, so I cross back and forth between Vermont and New York a lot. Sometimes the places blur together and I don’t even notice I’ve crossed the state line. But other times – in the islands, in Port Henry and Whitehall, in Charlotte and Shelburne – I notice a real difference, and the sides of the lake seem like two very separate places.
So I’m driving around the lake this week. I started with Addison County, Vermont on Monday. On Tuesday, I went to Plattsburgh and stopped at the municipal beach. Wednesday, I started in Essex, New York, and wandered south. Thursday, I headed north, to Swanton, St. Albans, and the islands. And today, I’ll head north to Quebec, and come home through Rouses Point.
I’m asking people a question I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. I want to know whether they think of the Champlain Valley as one place, or whether they identify more with the political units (Vermont, New York and Quebec), or whether identity is fragmented even further, into towns. I want to see if there’s tension between the three places, and if there is, to explore it.
It strikes me that the closer people are to the lake, and if they have an easy way to get across, they’re more interested in the other side. And the closer people are to the border, the more they think about Quebec.
I’m curious to hear what you think. How do you define the Champlain Valley? Is there a big difference between Vermont and New York? What about our neighbors to the north?