North of the heart of Ontario's scenic Muskoka District are the Almaguin Highlands, a loosely organized collection of villages, townships, and municipalities. In the mid-1800s, the region was home to loggers and farmers, as well as seasonal residents in simple cottages and camps. Since then, the impact of economic globalization and government policies has transformed the countryside into a luxurious recreational, residential, and tourist destination.
John Michels investigates change in the Almaguin Highlands, exploring the modern faces of cottaging, tourism, agriculture, forestry, and economic development initiatives. He shows how years of neoliberal policies have displaced agriculture and logging as the principal sources of employment in northern Ontario, generating tension and unexpected alliances between tourists, residents, loggers, farmers, developers, and governmental officials over the proper uses and meanings of rural space. The repercussions of this new service-oriented countryside include increased youth outmigration, decreased full-time employment opportunities, and an ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor.
A rich and detailed study based on long-term interviews and fieldwork, Permanent Weekend critically explores the catalysts and outcomes of gentrifying rural areas.
Tables and Figures ix
Introduction: The Twenty-First-Century Canadian Countryside 3
1 Historicizing and Theorizing the Almaguin Highlands 29
2 The Summer Cottage: A Home Away from Home 50
3 Tourism and Its Discontents 85
4 Rural Gentrification 121
5 The Changing Landscapes of Agriculture and Forestry 160
6 The Economic Development Industry 196
Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here? 243
John Michels teaches in the Department of Social Studies at Sheboygan North High School in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.