- There is a prevailing argument that what small towns lack in formal services they make up for in close ties among rural people and a shared understanding of the notion of community. Drawing on research undertaken in 9 small towns across Canada, the authors examine how the concept of community operates with respect to the provision ofin-home and community care for seniors. The analysis is based on interviews with 55 key informants from local governments, health and social care agencies, voluntary sector organizations, and community groups. The findings reveal the paradox of the conventional belief that rural communities can compensate for lack of services for seniors while failing to take into account the uncertain coping ability of the local informal sectors. The authors challenge rural health policy decision-makers, researchers, and providers to debunk assumptions about services for seniors in rural Canada.