The information presented allows us to identify several contradictions between the Parc Safari and the host community. To discuss these contradictions, but also complementarities that emerged from the analysis, we will take the three dialectics described above. We will address the issue of the narratives and then look at the internal/external relationship of the park with its environment to finish with the question of land use as related to rural-urban issues.
Tourism discourses with divergent narratives
The narrative discourses of Parc Safari and those of the host environment, the county Jardins-de-Napierville, have different functions and origins. Indeed, the Parc Safari, as presented by Phillips (1999), is typical of the narrative discourse of the theme parks in its desire to create a foreign space within its walls. In this case, it is a wild Africa created from an amalgam of cultural references from the park’s customers, North American and Western, with the big cats, giraffes and elephants on display. This discourse also echoes the televisual references of large animal programmes. However, these narratives are constructed because the animals are in captivity, and the safari adventure is to drive one’s car through the fauna in a large enclosure.
Conversely, the host environment built its tourism identity from a narrative centred on authenticity and historical land occupancy. The use of terroir and peasant terms implies a set of skills resulting from a relationship between agriculture, history and everyday life on the land. Rather than create an ‘elsewhere’, these discourses strengthen the sense of place, to present a specific way of living on the land. These discourses are in contrast to the urban and peri-urban life that is the daily space of visitors who frequent the area, mainly from Montreal.
If both types of narratives presented in the case study seem to be radically opposed, they have the commonality of transforming the understanding of places to allow visitors to experience life outside their daily routine and projecting representations of used space. This phenomenon is more acute in the case of Parc Safari, which stands as a representation of Africa in Quebec. The performances of the locale and the peasantry used by the region, mainly by the Circuit du Paysan, mobilize a representation of agricultural land that is the result of the need to inspire visitors. It offers visitors another experience. Indeed, the concept of terroir in Quebec does not have the historical basis it has in Europe (Beaudet, 2006). This is especially true for the production of wines and ciders in the area, which are not historical activities but alternative agricultural practices issuing from the growing popularity of gourmet tourism. In both cases, there is a fantasized narrative construction of rural areas that addresses urban tourists. One is a fantasized rural elsewhere, the other is a romanticized rural sense of place, but both are a creation of tourism narratives.