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A photo featuring a woman in strawhat, t-shirt and jean shorts standing in tall grass in front of the farm, and a dog laying at her feet.

Rural Stories
by Rural People

An old coloured photo of an old man and a toddler.


PARO seeks to create a world where bridges of understanding are built between the urban and the rural, and where rural voices and stories are valued.


PARO has created a space where these voices and stories can be shared, readily accessible and live on into perpetuity. PARO has established a freely accessible online community, where everyday people can tell everyday stories about everyday lives in and about rural Ontario.

A picture of multiple people sitting and standing around a dining table.


A photo of farm equipment working on the fields.


PARO is committed to extending the circulation of knowledge in accessible and understandable ways, and therefore ensures all of the audio-visual and written content within the archive is open to everyone online , free of cost or other barriers to engaging with this work.  

Aerial view of a park with autumn-colored trees at sunset.


PARO is focused on supporting the recovery, preservation, and resilience of rural Ontario, and aims to be a flexible initiative, with evolving practices and efforts in response to the changing priorities and needs of people and communities in this region.  

Two children in pajamas standing by a door with a Christmas wreath.


PARO is all about highlighting and celebrating the diversity of rural Ontario, and is dedicated to amplifying stories across different ages, races, sexual orientations, socio-economic statuses, abilities, and religious beliefs. 

Red covered bridge over a river with surrounding greenery and wildflowers.


PARO is meant to be a platform that supports rural representation, and so the focus is to highlight rural stories, experiences, perspectives, and voices in ways that are meaningful to the people of this region.

Why is PARO important?

Rural communities fill a vital role in the 21st century, as they have for centuries.  Rural people provide food, fresh water, recreation, and primary resources for the diverse populations of Ontario, whether they live in cities or outside them. Yet their roles, their stories, and their resilience and revitalization are rarely captured for a broad audience.


Rural people are increasingly diverse – demographically, economically, culturally – and deeply connected to each other, to global and regional networks, and to urban centres.


Change has always been a feature of rural life. Historically, and especially since the end of World War II, farming has changed in structure and economic significance in relation to other sectors, while agriculture more broadly has become less labour intensive and more dependent on technology and subject to climate crisis. Manufacturing and marketing enterprises are increasingly linked in to global and local supply chains.  Tourism has exploded into a major and multifaceted economic driver.


Migration in and out of rural communities has reshaped rural populations, as it has historically with various waves of immigrants who create new needs, opportunities and challenges. Indeed, rural spaces are being constantly reimagined as new businesses, social groups and ideas move in and out, all relying in various ways on close interdependence between rural and urban areas.


We live in a time of global interconnection. Decisions made in Toronto and other large urban centres have a resounding impact on people living in rural Ontario and we need to recognize and consider the impact of those decisions on rural people and places. Rural stories and knowledges are keenly relevant today.


PARO presents stories that showcase the diversity of rural Ontario people, repair the gaps in our knowledge about rural experiences, challenge unexamined assumptions, build bridges that bring us closer together, and shed light on the ways our choices impact ourselves and the people we depend on, close by or far away.

Who can participate in PARO?

PARO welcomes submissions from all. If there is a story that has rural connections, PARO is interested in it. What does ‘rural’ mean anyway? Ask ten people and you are sure to get ten different responses.  In general terms, rural spaces can be defined by their low population density. Statistics Canada defines a rural area as one with a population of under 1000 people.


But there are other considerations as well, such as proximity to a town or city, and the types activities that happen in that space. ‘Rural’ certainly includes agricultural activities and farmland, but also involves so much more. A more holistic definition considers population density, geography, infrastructure, human activities, economics and more. PARO welcomes stories from all people and all parts of rural Ontario. If you identify yourself, your community or your interests as ‘rural’, then your story has a place in PARO.

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