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Bancroft makes list of friendliest Canadian towns

By Haley Rose [1] and Justin Medve [2]

BANCROFT — The travel company Expedia [3] has dubbed Bancroft [4] the 10th friendliest town in Canada [5], and residents say the award comes with good reason.

As he arrived at a seniors’ club to play cards on Wednesday, Konrad Reinegger told QNet News that Bancroft’s calm atmosphere has improved his quality of life and helped him build social skills. He’s lived here for 43 years.

“When I came here, I was a different person. I was agitated. I worked as an accountant in Mississauga. I never got any happiness. But here, I learned to relax more,” he said.

Reinegger isn’t the only one who decided Bancroft would be a better place to finish their career.

Canada Post [6] employee Debbie Fredette used to live in Jordan [7], another small Ontario town. She applied for a work transfer to Bancroft, which she knew through having a cottage in the area. She waited almost a decade for the transfer to go through.

“I always worked in major cities around Jordan. So to come here: totally, totally different. Everybody’s friendly. You could be the only person walking on the street and somebody will honk their horn. Or one of the store owners will yell out, ‘Hey, how’s it going today’?” she said.

Fredette volunteers with the North Hastings Community Integration Association [8], which provides residents with disabilities extra help and companionship. These residents are recognized and treated as equals in the community, she said.

“That’s huge, because you don’t get that in the big city,” she added.

Since her move to Bancroft, she and her husband have turned their cottage into an Airbnb [9] that hosts guests from around the world.

The author of the Expedia article, Jennifer Cueller, said Bancroft draws visitors because of its “distinct four seasons,” and that it has “friendly people and tons to do.” She also highlighted nature tours, its proximity to Algonquin Park [10], local dining and local artists.

One such artist, Laurie Calder, specializes in wildlife paintings. She said the peacefulness and community ties Bancroft offers have helped build a strong arts scene.

“The scenery obviously is gorgeous. The town is friendly and fun. And I just think there’s a lot of opportunities for artists. There’s a lot of little galleries popping up, and it’s really become more of a mainstream thing here than it used to be,” she said.

Municipal councillor Tracy McGibbon says Bancroft has close ties with its surrounding area.

“Bancroft is the hub of North Hastings, essentially, so it brings a lot of communities together. That’s one thing we have here, is a great sense of community. Whenever there’s a need, our community rallies together,” she said.

In 2004, Bancroft was named out of 150 candidates as Ontario’s most talented town [11] by Studio 2 [12], a TVOntario program. Expedia’s list of friendliest towns featured 24 other communities.

The town’s attractions also include the Village Playhouse [13], the Rockhound Gemboree [14] festival, Millennium Park [15] and the Eagle’s Nest [16] lookout.