Rural communities, agriculture,
and corporate and civic models of
development in Atlantic Canada
Deborah Stiles and Greg Cameron
The Rural Research Centre, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Truro, Canada
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine a model of corporate and civic communities as it
relates to change in rural Atlantic Canada. The aim is to frame questions relevant to what appears to
be a situation of changing paradigms.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is largely conceptual. An exploration of Lyson’s
model of corporate and civic communities, review of selected Atlantic Canada historiography, and
preliminary ﬁndings of a research consultation offer understanding of the historical and changing
paradigmatic terrain of rural communities and agriculture in Atlantic Canada. Selected issues, emerging
from the literature as well as from a series of consultations held with farmers, rural non-proﬁts, policy
makers, businesses, agricultural groups and others, are examined in the context of the region’s past and
the corporate and civic models outlined by Lyson. Atlantic historiography is discussed in view of
contemporary challenges, and questions relevant to change in the region are raised and framed.
Findings – Increasingly vulnerable to a number of provincially, regionally, nationally and globally
formulated challenges, Atlantic Canada’s rural communities have been and are being reshaped, as is
the agriculture being practiced within them. In the midst of these upheavals, a practice-policy
“dis-connect” is making it unclear how alternative agricultural and rural community developmental
paradigms might be actualized in the region. But some of these challenges are not new.
Research limitations/implications – The research consultation is at the beginning stages, and
thus results reported are speculative.
Practical implications – Lessons from the Atlantic past, and Lyson’s civic model, may provide
guideposts toward a more ecologically-sound and economically-viable way for the future of rural
communities and agriculture in the region.
Originality/value – This paper raises key questions that take into account the region’s rural past
and changing paradigms pertaining to agriculture and rural communities.
Keywords Agriculture, Canada, Rural areas, Community development, Economic development,
Paper type Conceptual paper
This paper examines Lyson’s (2006, pp. 298-307) model of corporate and civic
communities as it relates to change in rural Atlantic Canada, selected Atlantic Canadian
historical scholarship, and preliminary ﬁndings of a recent consultation undertaken by
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
This paper was presented by the authors at the “Regional studies and the rural-urban dynamic:
an interdisciplinary perspective” conference at St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova
Scotia, in 2008. Preliminary research ﬁndings reported are a part of the Rural Research Centre’s
research programme, “changing paradigms”, a project funded in part by a SSHRC Aid to Small
Universities grant. Authors Stiles and Cameron are, respectively, Director and Associate Director
of the Rural Research Centre at The Nova Scotia Agricultural College.
Journal of Enterprising Communities:
People and Places in the Global
Vol. 3 No. 4, 2009
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited