Introduction15th-16thcenturies, population remained rural. 1790, 5% Americans lived in cities with populations 2500 or higher. Today 80%.Urbanization took place in mid-19thcentury with the industrial revolution.Late 19thcentury, American and Canadian west still primarily rural.Arrival of steam train brought shift from rural to urban life.N. America economically dependent upon natural resource extractive activitiesAgriculture, fishing, forestry, petroleum, mining.1970s – 80s Farm crisis and industrial restructuring curtailed rural economy, decrease in rural jobs, failure of large and small farm operations, declare bankruptcy.Subside with off-farm work, abandon farming, emigrate to cities (MacDonald, 2003).
ResultRural unemployment rate exceeded urban levels, rural income growth languished.Small communities and rural regions across the country forced to seek nontraditional ways to sustain themselves.Employment in agriculture only about 3% for U.S. and Canada.
The Appeal of Rural North AmericaA romanticized appeal for local and overseas touristsequate the countryside as “real America” or “Canada”.Positive image: Open spaces, farming, small town living portrayas wholesome, good, and beautiful. In urban North America, the country side is deeply ensconcedvalue in the geographical imagination.62% of Americans travelled to small town or village in the States (TIA, 2001).Leavenworth, WABavaria festival
Popular Activities by Rural Tourists in North AmericaActivityPercentageDinning70Shopping58Visit Beach/lake/riverfront44Visit historic sites41Fish/hunt/boating32Attend festival or fair29Bicycling or hiking24Attend religious services23Camping21
Indian ReservationsTraditional Indian reservations been based on natural amenities, special events, native cultures, dances, architecture, lifestyle, handicrafts, adventure tourism.