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Stirling on list of Ontario places to visit if you’re low on cash

The Stirling Festival Theatre on Front Street in Stirling is a major draw for people coming to visit the village. Photo by Stephanie Clue, QNet News

By Stephanie Clue [1]

STIRLING – Stirling-Rawdon has made it onto a list of Ontario small towns [2] to enjoy if you don’t have much money.

The list, prepared by lifestyle website Narcity [3], suggests 12 “cute” places within one or two hours’ drive of Toronto that offer travellers “plenty of fun things to do for relatively cheap.”

Downtown Stirling has many heritage buildings that give an old-school charm to the streets. Photo by Stephanie Clue, QNet News

Stirling [4] has “shopping at the vintage boutique stores, strolling through the lively farmers’ market, hopping between the amazing local restaurants, and visiting the various museums and theatres,” according to the website.

Other places in this region that made it on the list are Madoc [5], Kaladar [6], Maynooth [7] and Barry’s Bay [8].

Cassie Sine, who has lived in Stirling her whole life, said a big draw for people to visit is the history of the village.

“There is a museum [9] that has a lot of antiques from the early days of Stirling. The people try to preserve the storefronts to keep it as original looking as possible, so it has an old charm that can draw people to it,” she said.

Towns like Stirling have a more settled vibe than big cities where people are always rushing, said Sine, adding that people in Stirling are very friendly.

“Even on the outskirts of Stirling, everyone always waves and says hi,” she said. “There is such a sense of community, and the residents are just so proud of what they have in town.”

Stirling has many local vintage shops that sell antiques and old fashioned candy. Photo by Stephanie Clue. QNet News.

When people are looking to settle down, she said, they want a place that feels comfortable and familiar – and that’s Stirling.

Citing Stirling’s “open space, the nostalgic feeling and the strong sense of community,”  Sine said: “Home is where the heart is, and since this area never made me feel like an outsider and had such an inviting and friendly atmosphere, I never wanted to leave.”

Roxanne Hearns, chief administrative officer and treasurer for the Township of Stirling-Rawdon, has lived there for 48 years. She says its appeal has much to do with its unique shops.

“It’s more of a vintage feel for the area. We have a lot of vintage shops with antiques and we have the Stirling Festival Theatre [10]. We have Crowe Lake nearby that provides some hiking and walking trails to enjoy,” she said.

The sign welcoming visitors and residents coming into Stirling. Photo by Stephanie Clue, QNet News

Mary Vander Dussen, who grew up in Richmond Hill [11] and has lived in Stirling for 33 years, says one of the great things about it is how easy it is to get around.

“I like the fact that you can walk to most places you need to go, or ride a bike,” said Vander Dussen. She added that she loves the safe feeling of the town, and that it has everything you need.

“It’s a great place to raise kids, which was the main factor in making me happy to settle here.”

It’s fitting that Stirling made it onto the Narcity list, Vander Dussen said.

“I think it’s lovely. It doesn’t take one long to go through Stirling, but there are enough things of interest to do here that could keep you busy for an afternoon or most of the day – like Farmtown Park [9]that has replicas of old buildings from Stirling’s past.”

Rodney Cooney, mayor of Stirling for the last six years, says the village is probably on the list “because we’re smaller and most of our businesses are family owned and run.

We have our little urban centre and we have a large agricultural community around us. There’s a little bit of everything.”

If anything good or bad happens in the municipality, people rally around each other, Cooney said.

“It’s very family oriented and you know about 80 per cent of the people around you.

“We have a lot of things to do here that don’t cost much.”