Rural vernacular architecture as a cultural and economic resource in Manitoba : a methodology of techniques for management of a rural resource

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Ledohowski, Edward M.
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The field of heritage resource management has grown significantly in Manitoba during the past two decades, as it has across North America, particularly in the area of architectural preservation and development. This field continues to expand as government agencies and private organizations increasingly recognize the potential for profit and public appeal through the protection and rehabilitation of heritage structures for commercial and touristic purposes as well as for educational and cultural purposes. Currently, most Canadian urban centres are aggressively promoting heritage architecture development through the preservation and revitalization of vintage commercial and residential districts and main streets, and by the statutory designation and protection of individual architectural landmarks. Despite this general growth in the level of development activity, rural architecture resources, and most notably vintage farm structures, continue to be comparatively ignored by developers as valuable cultural and economic resources. In Manitoba, this situation persists despite the acknowledged richness and varity of its early ethnic, or vernacular, farmstead building types. Experience abroad, especially in Europe, indicates that vintage farm structures can be adapted to a wide variety of development types, most notably in terms of heritage tourist attractions and hospitality facitlities. While a small number of heritage tourism developments have been attempted in Manitoba, the industry is in an embryonic stage, and given the rapid rate of loss of these structures through natural deterioration and planned demolition, it is unlikely that a significant variety or number of characteristic vernacular farmsteads will be developed as either cultural or economic enterprises before they are effectively lost as developable sites. This thesis proposes that by coordinating all existing and future heritage development initiatives according to an ethnic- and natural-mosaic thematic basis, and by connecting all such developments via a hierarchical matrix of motorized "heritage trails", a unified, highly visible tourist package can be created which could greatly enhance both the level of local heritage development initiatives and the province's overall attractiveness as a tourist destination area.