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.