Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Richard Walsh-Bowers

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Rural communities are particularly disadvantaged in terms of access and control of their health care. Community based health care settings have the potential to provide the collaborative and integrated wellness care espoused in government declarations and reports. In this ethnographic case study, I relate the real life struggle of a citizens’ group trying to establish the Rainbow Valley Community Health Centre (RVCHC), in the small rural town of Killaloe in Northeastem Ontario. My objectives in this research were threefold: to contribute to the setting and document its development process; to reflect on my role in this process; and to inform the RVCHC’s development process by reviewing current socio-political realities and learning from other community health settings’ experiences. My research involved participant observation with the RVCHC for over a year, documentation review, literature review, and interviews with setting participants and representatives from other community health related settings. l describe how the health care realities of small towns make them both deficient in essential health care services and less equipped to improve their situation. I outline the socio-political context affecting RVCHC and chronologically narrate their two year history. Based on these findings, I discuss the RVCHC’s success in building a community base for their health care initiative. With reference to the literature on the creation of settings, I critically analyze the RVCHC’s overall progress. I also discuss how current government policy has impeded the success of rural community groups struggling to meet their health care needs. I offer recommendations for future strategies that may enable RVCHC to reach its goals. Finally, I reflect on my personal experience in this research, its contribution to the field and suggest areas of future research.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season