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Living heritage and development: a whole economy perspective (Temagami area).


The heritage estate is an inheritance of considerable value. It can be viewed broadly as comprising the resources, the experience, and the past understanding on which present and future generations are built. This is a much broader view of heritage than that found in the original Ontario Heritage Act of 1974, legislation which focused on the built environment. More recently, the heritage idea has expanded to include "living" heritage, that is "documents, traditions, and values; skills and stories" (Alder, 1992).

To date, the rationale for protecting living heritage has not been well thought out or widely applied in regional and local development planning. Living heritage has however, been surveyed in relation to First Nations communities, as an argument in support of land claims (Freeman and Carbyn, 1988). Living heritage has also been involved in such studies as that of the Grand as a Canadian Heritage River (Nelson and O'Neill, 1989). In this paper, we argue that living heritage is an essential component of development, if planning is to move us towards a more socially, environmentally and economically sustainable future.

The overall approach to development that is recommended in this paper is a Communitarian Approach. Heritage "resources" are seen as an essential component of this approach which emerges from research on the local economy, one of three spheres that are linked in sustainable development, the remaining two being society and environment (1) It is difficult to garner support for alternative approaches to development when formal production-centered commercial approaches are seen as the only realistic route in an increasingly competitive world. The Communitarian Approach is however, founded on an alternative conceptualization and application of economic analysis. This alternative is referred to here as the Whole Economy (Figure 1), and is based on very early economic models that included both "oikos" and "chrematistike" i.e. both the informal and formal sectors of the economy (Harris, 1994).

The research reported upon in this paper was conducted in 1990/91. It was based upon the whole economy models of de Romana (1989) and Ross and Usher (1986), which were applied to a study of the economy of the Temagami, Ontario area. In these models, economics is defined as that branch of human ecology which studies the ways in which the individual-in-community provisions her/him-self through both formal and informal activities. Field research provided detailed information on these activities in the Temagami area. In addition, economic mapping, interviews, participant observation, and a review of historical documents on the economy of this area revealed: 1) connections between past and present generations; 2) linkages among social, economic and environmental spheres of community life; and 3) articulation between informal and formal sectors of the economy.

FIGURE 1 Whole Economy Framework


Exchange and
Mutual Aid,
Community Assoc.
Barter and Skills
Collective and
Small and Micro
Public: Local
Public: Provincial
Public: Federal


Research in the Temagami Area: A Whole Economy and Community Perspective on Development

The motivation to undertake this research came from concern about the demise of the economies on which northern regions have depended in the twentieth century (Nelles, 1974). Through a process of creative destruction in the market economy, "minetown", "milltown" and "railtown" are being replaced (Lucas, 1991). First Nations communities are caught between the deteriorating "bush" economy and shrinking sources of employment in mining, logging, and tourism. Yet, many settlements in northern Ontario are close to a century old and have exhibited the characteristics which, in Lockhart's view, would classify them as socially viable and politically efficacious (Lockhart, 1982). Nevertheless, as "the company" lays off its workforce, people are encouraged through retraining programs and subsidization of re-location expenses, to move where new jobs are available.

Two Temagami area settlements -- Bear Island and Elk Lake -- were the focus of the research (Figure 2). In this study the standard municipal economic profile was replaced with a whole economy profile of each of the settlements. These whole economy profiles provided a framework for collection of data on the full range of activities in which people engage in order to provision themselves, from informal household activity to formal corporate and government activity. Profiles for the early and the late 1900s were constructed for both settlements. It is not possible to include the complete profiles here. The intention was to gain, from the profiles and the other evidence, a more realistic perspective of "the local level" as an organic, highly complex entity. Only a brief summary of the findings can be given here.

Bear Island Analysis

Bear Island is located within Lake Temagami (Figure 2). Originally the site of a Hudson Bay Post, the population today numbers about 150. The island is 293 hectares in size and is the cultural centre for the larger community of 700 residents and non-residents who belong to the Teme-Augama Anishnabai. The Bear Island Band provides seasonal work for some residents and a number of small businesses are in operation. The tourist industry continues to provide work in construction, maintenance and services during the summer months. A land claim settlement is intended to identify sole and shared stewardship lands and provide funds for investment in the Bear Island economy and in the wider economy of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai.

Whole economy profiles of Bear Island were constructed for the early and the late 1900s. An illustrative section of part of a late 1900s profile is shown in Figure 3. All the profiles were constructed on the basis of historical documents and interviews. The profiles are working documents which need to be reviewed carefully by the community and, in the process, enriched and expanded. The value of the profiles is that they organize local and historical knowledge in a manner that is useful for community development planning. They show changes and adaptations that people have made during the past century. Some changes may be considered beneficial to the community. Alternatively, residents may wish to alter the direction of development once they become aware of its implications for themselves and others.

Broad changes in the way the people of Bear Island have provisioned themselves include the following:

* Self-reliant methods of hunting, trapping and fishing have been replaced by more capital intensive methods which require larger expenditures (e.g. snow-mobiles).

* Formal learning and television have taken the place of informal learning from the community.

* Traditional experiential knowledge of the environment and society is being replaced by knowledge of trades in industrial society and administrative skills.

* Foods are acquired in a packaged form at grocery stores in North Bay, and more nutritional, country foods are less frequently on the menu.

* Time has been spent in developing external communication channels with provincial and federal government administration and funding sources, often at the expense of time spent on internal communication.

[Part 1 of 4]

Figure 3. An Illustrative Part of a Whole Economy Profile of Bear Island:
Late 1900s

 Economic Sector Activity

BUSH * fishing: setting and
 tending nets
For all of these activitis,
children were trained * hunting and trapping:
from birth by parents and tracking, setting and
particulary grandparents. tending nets
Many skill were taught
through the oral tradition
and learned through

 * resource conservation

 * equipment maintenance:
 traps, nets, sled,
 * net mending
 * travelling to trading

 * cutting logs
 * collecting, splitting,
 piling firewood
 * construction of winter
 * collecting berries, eggs,
 nuts, bulrushes, reeds
 * food preparations
 * gathering medicinal

 * gardning


 * game dressing

 * food preservations-
 drying, smoking
 * food preservations
 * carring water
 * basket making
 * making birch bark-boxes
 * bead work
 * quill work
 * carpentary

 * cooking
 * laundry
 splitting wood
 * hide working
 * snowshoe manufacturing
 * paddle manufacture
 * canoe manufacture

 * tent-making, house
 banking and
 weatherproofing shelter
 * net making
 * sewing clothing blankets

 * dying

[Part 2 of 4]

Figure 3. An Illustrative Part of a Whole Economy Profile of Bear Island:
Late 1900s

 Economic Sector Organization, Tool,

BUSH * floats. sinkers, spears,
 gill nets fish trap, rifles
For all of these activitis,
children were trained * shotguns, rifles, snares,
from birth by parents and canoes, steel traps, dog
particulary grandparents. teams, snowshoes,
Many skill were taught
through the oral tradition
and learned through

 * land tenure and
 management system
 divided land in quarters
 and routated use
 * knives, hide sinew,

 * bone needles, twine
 * snowshoes, dog teams,

 * axe, bucksaw, gas-
 powered saw

 * tent, logs

 * techiques learned from

HOUSEHOLD Hurons, seed potatoes
 from HBC
 * scrapers, knives, hides
 stretched on frames and

 * roots of tamarack,
 spruce, reeds

 * maple, pine, ash,

 * white ash

 * birch bark, elm bark,
 canvas, balsam gum
 * canvas, birch bark,
 basswood, fiber, logs

 * needles, twine
 * mouse, deerhide,
 groundhog, beaver
 * oak/maple (black, alder

[Part 3 of 4]

Figure 3. An Illustrative Part of a Whole Economy Profile of Bear Island:
Late 1900s

 Economic Sector Needs/

BUSH * trout, pickerel, pike,
 bass, roe
For all of these activitis,
children were trained meat, furs: mouse, rabbit,
from birth by parents and deer, muskrat, ducks,
particulary grandparents. geese, partridge. Moose
Many skill were taught provided hides, snow
through the oral tradition snow webbing: antlers
and learned through and bones for tools,
dreams intestines stored food,
 rawhide, sinew, hair for

 * spruce, birch, aspen,
 maple, pine, fuel

 * shelter
 * fresh berries: bilberries,
 skunk currants,
 bearberries, raspberries,
 gooseberries, acorns,
 * bannock, dried meat
 fried fish, boiled meats
 and fish
 * wild ginseng, mint,
 blueflag, cedar, balsam,
 yarrow, sweetgrass,
 wintergreen, etc.
 * potatoes, corn, beans,

HOUSEHOLD pumpkins

 * meats, furs, bone

 * fish oil, fish powder,
 dried berries, dried meat
 and fish and dog food

 * storage containers

 * decorations

 * sled, toboggans, bed,
 chairs, fences, cradles,

 * fuel
 * preserved skins for
 * means of transportation

 * shelter

 * insulation

 * rabbit fur blankets
 mitts, moccasins, parkas,
 * decoration

[Part 4 of 4]

Figure 3. An Illustrative Part of a Whole Economy Profile of Bear Island:
Late 1900s

 Economic Sector Location,
 Land Use

BUSH * traplines at Iron Lake,
 Macpherson's, Sharp
For all of these activitis, Rock
children were trained * fish near trapping
from birth by parents and grounds
particulary grandparents. * canoe route from
Many skill were taught Matachewan to Bear
through the oral tradition Island
and learned through * Moose hunted near Lady
dreams Evelyn Lake
 * trout plentiful in Lady
 Evelyn River
 * Mattagami Lake, Lake

 * Bear Island, Lake
 Wanapitei, Lake
 Timiskaming, Brunswick

 * in family hunting

 summer settlement at

HOUSEHOLD Wabikon on Temagimi
 * some families lived at
 Austin Bay
 * main village in 20th
 century at Bear Island

 * Upper Bass Lake known
 for trees with burls for
 making bowls

 * near Tomiko River good
 birchbark found for
 * basswood bark for twine
 found at Norris Lake

A number of trends can be identified. Many of the responsibilities of grandparents and elders gradually have been taken over, to different degrees, by other groups. Instruction of children has been assumed by priests and then by the provincial school system. Spiritual guidance has come to be dominated by the Church. Today, people are searching for a new source of guidance - many through a revival of traditions. The Temagami Indian Band, the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, and the provincial and federal governments as well as the elders, all play a role in governing the community. Counselling is provided by social workers but elders are sometimes consulted. Traditional activities and related values have persisted despite the fact that most residents of Bear Island have lost Ojibwa language skills and the community has been involved in the tourism industry of Lake Temagami since the 1920s.

Ranked in terms of number of activities, "public" has today replaced "bush" as the largest sector of the economy. Health, education, policing, resource management and social assistance as well as funding of local government are under provincial and federal control. Self-government may decentralize certain responsibilities to the local level in the same manner as activities are being shifted from the province to municipalities in Ontario. Alternatively, local governments with greater independence could promote expansion of the household or autonomous sector of the economy.

Fewer economic activities are taking place within the Temagami Indian community in the late 1900s than earlier years. This does not necessarily mean that there are fewer opportunities for meeting needs; rather, provisioning is concentrated in a smaller number of economic sectors. The public sector is dominant and lies mainly outside of the community - the less formal sectors of the local economy are proportionately smaller.

The micro-enterprise sector was larger in the early 1900s, many of these activities being part of the tourist industry of the day. The draw-back to this type of work was that independent guides, launderers, construction teams and logging teams could not define their own working conditions. In the late 1900s, fewer people are self-employed but, by law, their working conditions are of a higher standard. The number of community-based micro-enterprises, for example spiritual healing or basket-making for trade, has diminished.

The corporate sector was less significant earlier in the century. Certain goods were available from the Hudson Bay Company and furs could be traded. However few Temagami Indians were directly employed in the corporate sector. Later, the mines and mills provided well-paid employment. Today the resource industry, due to increased competition, mechanization and technological advance, offers fewer opportunities for work.

Elk Lake Analysis

Elk Lake, a community of 500 was the second case study. Located on highway 65 at the crossing of the Montreal and Makobe Rivers, it was the site of a silver boom around 1906, when the population rose to about 10,000 (Farmiloe 1984). Whole economy profiles were constructed for the early and late 1900s, again on the basis of historical documents and interviews. These profiles cannot be included here because of space limits but they can be examined in Harris (1994). These whole economy profiles must be considered as learning documents that can be expanded and improved upon.

The following are some of the broad changes and trends that have been identified in this research. This identification may, however, not always conform with local residents' views. Furthermore, residents may wish to change the trends that have emerged in the development of their community or they may feel that certain trade-offs that have been made are for the best.

* Health services have been centralized in New Liskeard and Englehart so that advanced technical facilities comparable to those in southern centres can be available in the north. Accessibility to basic services such as a fulltime doctor has been traded off for these facilities which are located some distance away from the community.

* Rail transportation provided a vital social and economic link between Elk Lake, Kenabeek, Earlton and New Liskeard in the early 1900s. Many people complain that the only means of transportation today is by car. Travel by car is dangerous because of winter and spring conditions and the hazard of sharing the road with large logging trucks.

* In the 1950s, logging was mechanized and became a year `round operation. Farmers had previously combined logging in the winter with farming. This mixed economy met the needs of settlers and had less impact on the forest ecology. The trade-off between production-focused and need-focused economic activity involves many social and ecological benefits and costs which are often not fully taken into consideration by development planners.

Whole economy analysis highlights certain trends in the shape of the economy and of development in Elk Lake. The bush and household sectors of the Elk Lake economy have diminished since the early 1900s. Sporting and recreational needs are more likely to be met in the bush than are needs such as food and shelter. Fishing, hunting and trapping have been formalized and are regulated. Provision for basic food, shelter and clothing has been formalized as well. Many people still chop their own wood for heat. There has been a trend over the years has been towards more "sanitized", packaged delivery of basic provisions. This has changed the nature of the distribution system. The unit costs faced by small, local stores are high and they cannot compete with chain stores.

Household activities are extensive. Residents undertake projects such as housebuilding, auto mechanics, sewing, and gardening both because of isolation and in much the same manner as a hobby. What was once a necessary activity to provide for the family is now done more for enjoyment. A surprising number of small enterprises provide a degree of stability in the community, although many are tied to the fortunes of logging.

The Community Forest Initiative (Township of James, 1991) is funded by the provincial government. Elk Lake was successful in its application for funding because of the perseverance of residents and township council. The community forest offers opportunities to: focus community and regional energy; strengthen local networks; and expand the range of industries and the linkages from the planing mill and logging activities to the community.

Heritage, Development and the Whole Economy

The Ontario Heritage Act now defines heritage and heritage resources as "the sum total of our inheritance, both natural and human; heritage is manifested in physical and intangible heritage resources including structure, landscapes, natural area, archaeological and paleontological sites, cemeteries and other burial places; documents, artifacts, traditions and values; skills and stories" (Ministry of Culture and Communication, 1992).

The focus in rural areas has, in the past, been on protecting natural heritage. In Caucasion times, designation of parks and protected areas has supplied the main institutional framework for conservation. The inclusion of living heritage beings to reestablish the link between past and present generations -- to exercise our "historical imagination" as Innis put it (1951). It is evident however, that the concept of a living heritage presents problems in terms of conceptualization and planning for protection and use.

The whole economy profile is nevertheless, a useful framework within which to analyze a range of economic -- and heritage -- activities that have been excluded from development planning. The profiles introduce a historical perspective and highlight the linkages between economy and society and between economy and environment. The importance of our "living heritage" for current development planning -- beyond just the value in tourist dollars -- is revealed in whole economy analysis.

The whole economy profile is a practical tool which describes community skills, resource endowment and the types of trade and labour exchange that establish the community's "entitlement to goods and services". The entitlement approach to the analysis of development was devised by Amartya Sen (1981) as a means of describing the trade and exchange relationships in a community. Sen's intention was to explain the roots of poverty, famine and disease by describing the disruption to people's livelihood -- and heritage -- that often followed industrial development.

Heritage is an important factor in the entitlement of a community. It encompasses many resources that the community utilizes in development including: knowledge, skills, training, organization, decision-making, infrastructure, technology, and management. When this heritage is lost, the ability of the community to meet its needs and to plan for development is impaired.

Heritage and Local Knowledge

Bear Island

Heritage is a core theme that became apparent in the two case study communities. Interviews on Bear Island indicated that the beliefs of ancestors are a current influence on the lives of many residents. Bear Island people have an oral tradition which has preserved some of the fabric of their living heritage. Land claims negotiations have provided additional motivation to record this heritage. A cultural centre is being planned as a focus for community development and many people talk of the need for a revival of drumming and dancing on the Island. The ability to understand others and to make yourself understood is valued. Decision-making is by consensus and people are given an opportunity to voice their opinion.

First nations are known as cultures with an oral tradition. The story telling of elders is a means of passing information from one generation to the next. There is concern that the link between generations is weakening. The Ontario system of education has been a contributing factor. The use of Ojibwa was discouraged in the early part of the 1900s. Interviews indicated that many residents are at best passively bilingual. They understand the elders when they speak in Ojibwa but they cannot express themselves in their mother tongue. Formally trained language teachers and those who still retain language skills are now providing instruction in Ojibwa. The language and knowledge held by elders are not only valuable components of of local culture. They are the foundation for communitarian development.

Elk Lake

Residents of Elk Lake, during interviews, made reference to eccentric pioneers who had been prominent in the township. The rugged individuals who settled, logged, and prospected in the early years are a source of pride. In a sense that spirit of adventure is shared by current residents. A number of recent historical accounts by local authors, deal with early life in the area around Elk Lake and Lake Temiskaming (MacDougall, 1976; Farmiloe, 1984; McLaren, 1992) and the community is fortunate to have at least two resident historians.

Along with the stress on individualism and individual responsibility there has also been considerable emphasis on community activities and co-operation. Volunteering has always been dominated by local branches of outside organizations such as the Churches, Masons, Lions, Legion and the Women's Institute. Industry, government, or the Church have taken on the role of providing social guidance. The small town habit of bartering and skills exchange is evident to a limited extent. The fact that volunteering is coordinated by groups with outside affiliation draws energy away from initiatives that do originate in the community. The scarcity of this type of independent community initiative is typical of resource towns. Nevertheless, Elk Lake manifests a considerable range of initiatives that fall under the heading of mutual aid, reciprocity, community association, voluntary activities, and social learning.


Economic and associated social differences exist between Elk Lake and Bear Island but some individuals and groups are linked through a common interest and involvement in the informal or the formal community. Such linkages extend to common interests in the conservation and suitable use of resources such as wildlife. People in both communities with such interests have a stronger interest then others in the conservation and sustainability of the Temagami region as a place. This linkage deserves more study as a basis to build upon.

"Gossip", usually attributed to women in a comuity, is found in both Bear Island and Elk Lake. "Gossip" can be destructive but from another perspective it can be seen as an important form of communication at the local level (Crnkovick, 1990).

The contrast between communication based on technical understanding and that which is based on traditional knowledge was apparent during a conference which featured speakers from the Ontario government ministries and from First Nations. The Ministry speakers used visual aids, spoke from notes and made use of statistical references. The First Nations speakers often used no notes or aids but rather, supported arguments with analogies and stories.

The First Nations and the Ministry speakers were both effective in reaching the audience but the information presented by one is not easily meshed with the information from the other as a basis for co-operative action. Yet traditional environmental knowledge is a heritage resource that must be preserved or it may be lost forever (Freeman and Carbyn, 1988).

Partnership committees and co-operative management groups such as the Wendaban Stewardship Authority (Potts, 1990) provide vehicles for improving communication among residents of the Temagami area so that they no longer see themselves as competitive stakeholders but rather are working cooperatively toward sustainable development.

Summary: The Role of the Living Heritage in Communitarian Development

Surveys of living heritage and heritage resources are useful analytical devices for sustainable development planning. The whole economy framework provides a window on the process of change in areas such as Temagami as well as on the living heritage that has been passed on to current generations. The argument against replacing this heritage with systems and technologies developed outside of the region, is not necessarily that heritage resources should be preserved, but that development decisions must be made in a way that respects valuable local knowledge, organization, infrastructure and management systems. Heritage warrants more than preservation and conservation. Heritage encompasses ways of life that have emerged over long time periods through the interaction of people with the environment and people with people, through the struggle to provision the family and the community. Heritage is a function therefore, of place.

Local knowledge, local empowerment and environmental decision-making which recognize social, economic and environmental linkages, all build on heritage resources that are the property -- the common property -- of the community. Historical analysis of economic activity reveals the essential contribution of many forms of heritage to current and future development. This type of analysis is the foundation for expanding the study of heritage economics beyond its current dominant interpretation, which is simply as a product in the tourist trade. Since the 1960s, efforts to reclaim heritage have been building in Canada and globally. This movement has had both creative and destructive implications for society; hence, the greater interest in fuller study and understanding of cultural heritage as a resource which can provide a more informed foundation for choice in development.


The research upon which this paper is based was undertaken for a Ph.D. thesis by Judy Harris. Gordon Nelson was the thesis advisor and contributed to the organization, writing, and editing of this paper.

The authors would like to thank the many people in Elk Lake and Bear Island who provided guidance, especially to the first author. A number of people took part in interviews and assisted in other ways. It is impossible to name all those who helped here, and it would not be appropriate to single out a few. We also thank the University of Waterloo for financial support for the studies of the first author.

(1) In response to criticism from the deep ecologist school, sustainable development is construed as a concept that is a guide to planning the human part of the ecology.
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Author:Judith Harris; Gordon Nelson
Date:Jan 1, 1996
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