Countryside Capital, Changing Rural Landscapes, and Rural Tourism Implications in Mennonite Country
Kelley A. McClinchey, Wilfrid Laurier University Barbara A. Carmichael, Wilfrid Laurier University
The purpose of this paper is to apply a framework of countryside capital to a culturally unique yet rapidly evolving rural landscape in Ontario, Canada. Countryside capital, a concept used to recast rural resources as capital assets of the rural tourism industry, reassesses the value of rural resources for rural tourism and sustainable rural development in the Waterloo region of Ontario. The region has a distinctive cultural heritage resource, the Old Order Mennonite culture and its unique rural landscapes. It also has a well-defined projected rural tourism product and image that have been altered over a short period of time from that of Mennonite Country to that of St. Jacobs Country. Furthermore, urban encroachment and the commodification of the rural landscape create conflict over the preservation of rural heritage. This study discusses these important issues in the context of countryside capital, as well as the implications for the future of tourism in the region and for rural sustainability in general. Perceptions of rural accommodation operators and their visitors, field observations, and an analysis of promotional literature provide an empirically based discussion. However, the case study acts as an illustration of the theoretical component that is the wider, in-depth application of countryside capital to a Canadian context.
Keywords: rural tourism, countryside capital, cultural heritage, sustainability, bed and breakfast