CRRF’n the Archives Series

The entries below are examples of items from the CRRF Archives. They provide some of the stories, insights, resources, and inspirational materials that remain relevant for current rural and remote communities. Check them out to discover what we have learned over the years and to appreciate the legacy of innovations and dedicated people that have made today’s initiatives possible.

We welcome your comments, stories, archival materials, and inquiries.

(April 2021) Ambitious I and Ambitious II (circa 1995-96)

The New Rural Economy project ( was rooted in 9 years of conferences, retreats, seminars, workshops, and collaborations among ARRG and CRRF participants. These years provided ample evidence of our collective success, honed our networking skills, and gave us the confidence necessary to dream large. As the idea of a national, long-term, systematic, and community-engaged project emerged in our discussions we were not put off by its ambitious nature. As we developed the details of the project, its stages became identified as “Ambitious 1” and “Ambitious 2”.

In response to my request about the emergence of these original formulations, Peter Apedaile wrote “The concept comes from the motto of Hokkaido University. “Boys Be Ambitious”. I was impressed, not by the chauvinism, but by the aspiration, while visiting my grad student doing her research on the structure of Japanese cereal trade and trade policy in 1987. I seem to recall the concept coming up during several of our animated conversations Bill, when we were walking somewhere in Ottawa or Hull, perhaps at the time of our Senate presentation. The origin of the concept is this motto. One of the great products of our ARRG/CRRF experience has been intellectual adrenalin!  Peter (Feb 14, 2021)

The NRE Rural Observatory consists of 32 systematically selected rural and remote communities in Canada (augmented by 2 in Japan). We collaborated with most of these communities for 11 years (
(March 2021) Search for endowment funding: Stage 1 (1992-1993)

Peter Apedaile initiated the exploration of endowment funding for CRRF in 1992. The first stage included discussions with contacts in some of Canada’s major commodity companies. After a series of encouraging suggestions, but no follow-through, we concluded that these companies have little interest in rural community development. Their primary preoccupation is with the movement of commodities to national and international markets. The production and transportation of commodities no longer require strong rural communities.

Our 1992 National Conference in Goderich included an invitation to a supper organized by the local community. We were surprised to discover that there were no children or young people at the event since liquor was served. This meant that parents were required to arrange for child care and young people never had a chance to see community adults “at play” in such a venue. Similar events in Québec provided a sharp contrast, where community events included all ages since liquor licenses were less restrictive. The comparison provides an interesting example of the way in which general policies can exacerbate stratification in smaller communities.

Goderich Site Visit – 1992
Goderich Community Supper – 1992
(Feb. 2021) 'Rural-Urban Relations' Series

This series of 8 English posters provides suggestions for rural communities that are interested in improving their capacity through collaboration with urban places. They provide examples of such collaboration and strategies for action. The suggestions arose from our recognition that rural and urban places are interdependent—so instead of treating them as if they are in competition, it makes more sense to build alliances.

The 1995 Coaticook, QC conference on Rural Employment was a study in community innovation. This small town with one motel (about 30 rooms) and no conference facilities put on an international conference with about 200 people under the patronage of CRRF and the OECD. They converted an agricultural building into a conference venue with outdoor carpeting, AV equipment, tables, chairs, and greenery; used the high school kitchen for preparing food; and trained local students for cooking, catering, and serving. By organizing a network of billets and transportation, they solved the accommodation problem. Our international guests were particularly pleased to meet local people over the breakfast table each morning.

Coaticook Conference 1995
Entertainment at the Coaticook Conference 1995
(Jan. 2021) Towards a Whole Rural Policy for Canada

Agriculture can only be understood in its full economic, social, and environmental context. In 1994, this was a radical perspective. It was our message when members of the ARRG network were invited to make a presentation to a joint committee of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.

Seven ARRG members elaborated the implications of this perspective for rural women, the quality of rural life, community networks, local initiatives, and the operation of complex systems. Check out the record of these presentations via the following link (or click on the image).

Did we get it right? Have things changed? What is your vision today?
Grande Prairie Conference – 1994

“We cannot expect a major revitalization of rural Canada, but absolute population growth is likely to be positive, particularly in non-farm regions and those close to large urban centres…

We cannot expect urban standards of service delivery, but with appropriate monitoring and exploration we should be able to make more efficient use of the means at our disposal…

The identification of general benefits and resources provided by rural areas would serve as a basis for justifying the transfer of funds from urban to rural areas as well as the limitation of costs that exported to the rural areas.” (Towards a Whole Rural Policy for Canada, 1994, p41)

(Dec. 2020) In-sites Flyers

This is a series of 41 flyers in English and 26 in French that identify some of the key insights from the New Rural Economy Project of CRRF. Download and copy them for events or places where you think they may be useful. They made a great series for posting on office doors or at conferences in the pre-COVID days. Perhaps you can think of ways they may be used in our current, more online, world. If you do, let us know so that we can pass on your suggestions to others.

We made three decisions regarding our annual conferences that have served us well over the years. The first was to meet in rural areas wherever possible (more than 1 hour from an international airport); the second was to give program control to the local community; and the third was to integrate local tours by which participants learned about community challenges and initiatives.

Local tours provided conference participants with first-hand view of local challenges and initiatives.
Local tour: Wolfville, NS, 1993
Conference participants experienced the daily travel conditions of most rural students
Local tour: Corner Brook, NL, 1995
(Nov. 2020) Opportunities for rural Canada

As part of the 11-year New Rural Economy Project, David Bruce and his cohorts produced a series of 8 videos regarding the ways in which rural communities are turning the challenges they face into new opportunities. In the process, the videos identify the general lessons emerging from these examples so that other communities might be inspired in similar ways.

In 1988, Ray Bollman (Statistics Canada), Fran Shaver (Concordia U.), and I (Tony Fuller) attended the International Rural Sociological Society conference in Bologna where Harriet Friedmann in her presentation first hinted at global restructuring. Ray and I felt that Canadian scholars were probably not very well equipped to debate such ideas and to measure their potential impacts in Canada’s diverse rural regions. Ray’s response was to increasingly make available data on rural social and economic issues, while mine was to press for a think tank that would attract top scholars such as Peter Apedaile, Phil Ehrensaft, Hartly Furtan, Bruno Jean, Bill Reimer, Fran Shaver, and Jack Stabler. Together, we persuaded Ag. Canada to sponsor the first group meeting in Regina to the tune of $2,000… The conference marked for the first time officially that rural was not necessarily agricultural. This was not popular in Saskatoon, especially among the farm women’s group!” [Tony Fuller, 2020/06/08: What I Remember.docx and email 2020/10/21

(Oct. 2020) A 32-year legacy

Our present activities and insights rest on a 32-year history of research, discussion, collaboration, and projects among researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, and community people. Over those 3 decades we have learned a great deal about rural places, people, and communities. They serve as a solid foundation for our current activities and hopefully a source of pride and inspiration for the present cohort of participants. Check out the following video slides that outline the first 30 years of that history. You may be surprised how many of the insights are reflected in our current discussions and initiatives.

30 Years of CRRF

“I would like to add another item to the discussion of evolution of CRRF. Lynden Johnson was the head of the federal Rural Secretariat and collaborated on some projects with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC, now known as Colleges and Institutes Canada). He was quite insistent that CRRF should include college-based researchers in its network. As a result, I was the first college-based researcher to address a CRRF conference (Tweed, I think it was 2004) and I believe there has been college representation at CRRF conferences ever since. Unlike other research networks I have been part of over the years, CRRF people have been very welcoming of the applied research perspective of colleges.” [Nelson Rogers, 2020/10/16-email]

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