Canada’s rural settlement patterns are historically based on the abundance of natural resources found throughout the country. Resource-based settlements are, of course, focused on these resources as the primary employer and economic driver of the community. Service centres are often created to support the extraction of the resource, or larger development of these communities. But in some cases, the settlement of a community is based on a heritage of service, rather than the production of goods. Historically, this includes military outposts and seats of government, communities focused on health, recreation, or centres of trade.
Service settlements are often characterized by location as much as resource-based settlements are: location determines the type of industry developed and the size of the community, based on it being a hub for several natural-resource based towns, or a coastal trade centre, for example.
The service sector is often centralized in larger urban centres, but rural Canada is increasingly taking advantage of overall growth in this sector. Tourism and recreation are huge drivers of rural economies, and health services (retreats, spas, and specialized treatment centres) are also growing. The tech sector is a new area of growth in smaller centres, as physical proximity to clients is not of high importance.