The face of Canada and even of Saskatchewan has
radically changed over the past 50 or 60 years. During the first half
of the 20th century much of Canada's population was living in rural areas,
on farms or in small farm service communities.
That is no longer the case even in a province like
Saskatchewan which still has a significant agricultural economic base.
Even though many urban residents are only one or two generations removed
from rural living, the nature of the lives urban and rural residents
lead is quite different.
Some people may argue that rural living has changed
the most to become more like that of the urban cousin. The argument
points to the high level of technology and "urban" comforts available
to rural residents. While this is probably correct, I would argue that
access to technology is really a rather small part of what makes up the
quality of one's life. The nature of the community in which one is formed
and in which one operates, and the resources that a community generates
for the benefits of its members is vastly different in rural and urban
settings. Ask the rural school student who spends over two hours per
day on a school bus if his/her school experience is the same as the city
cousin. Ask the rural parent who has no access to day care or who has
to take hours or even a full day to do family "shopping' or
make a visit to a doctor or dentist.
Rural living has progressively been impoverished
as local rural communities, which used to provide social and other supports,
shrank and then vanished in the face of dwindling rural population.
The movement of rural residents to do their business
and even to seek their entertainment in the city has exaggerated the
impact of rural depopulation.
Clean air and good food used to be thought to be
benefits of rural living over urban living. With increased use of pesticides,
herbicides, stubble burning, manure spreading from mega livestock operations,
etc. have done much to eliminate this "advantage" of rural
living. Food purchased by rural residents is no more likely to come
from local organic sources than the food of the urban resident, being
from the same retail outlets and supplied by the same trans-national
People living in rural environments might now find
themselves hours from full medical care, and have to find long-term care
supports far from home and family support. A rural senior used to move
into the local village after retiring from the farm. Today they are much
more likely to move into the larger urban settings, as these are the
only places where services and facilities are still available locally
to someone with decreased mobility.