Creativity, Tourism and Economic Development in a Rural Context: the Case of Prince Edward County


  • Kevin M Stolarick Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School, U of Toronto
  • Mark Denstedt Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School, U of Toronto
  • Betsy Donald Queens University
  • Gregory M Spencer Munk Centre, University of Toronto


Located on Lake Ontario, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada is equidistant (about 200km) from both Ottawa and Toronto. Described by its own web site as ?A beautiful island adventure, the County is a mecca for artists, nature lovers and anyone looking for a beautiful island adventure ... for a weekend break or for life. Renowned for its sailing, fishing and giant sand dunes, the County also offers live theatre, artists' studios and galleries, unique regional cuisine and a flourishing wine region.? Prince Edward County is an outstanding example of a rural community that has leveraged its natural resources with a focus on the creative economy including gastronomy, enology, culture and heritage, and the visual arts to create not only a desirable tourist destination but also vibrant regional economic development. In this paper, we use a combination of quantitative and qualitative data to examine the underlying intentions and strategy of this development focus along with the actual performance, growth, and underlying economic and demographic changes in the region. We demonstrate the impact of both planned, intended changes and serendipitous events, conditioned on a willingness to adapt, in creating lasting advantage for the region. We conclude by offering insights on what other rural communities can learn from the Prince Edward County case in terms of revitalizing their tourist economies and enhancing overall regional economic development. Keywords: rural development strategies, creative class, creative economy, Prince Edward County