Located on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield with the York River winding through it, is Bancroft – a naturally picturesque town. At the intersection of provincial highways 28 and 62, it serves as a gateway to Algonquin Park in the north and a rest stop on the way to Peterborough and Belleville in the south. As the hub of North Hastings county, Bancroft combines the charm of a small with the retail and service conveniences of a larger town and serves as the entertainment centre for over 150,000 annual visitors and seasonal cottagers.
Land Area, km2
Construction, Accommodation and Food Services
Bancroft’s core is vibrant and viable with a wide variety of businesses, healthcare services and governmental organizations. Out of the almost 3,500 jobs these business and organizations have created, approximately 700 are filled by the townspeople and the rest from surrounding areas. Loyalist College’s Bancroft satellite office is working hard to keep up with the employment counselling and training demands of the area, with programs increasing being offered online.
Dubbed the ‘Mineral Capital of Canada’, Bancroft has over 1,600 mineral species that have been identified in the area, and has turned the area into a major draw for gem and mineral hunting enthusiasts. It currently hosts the Mineral Museum and is leading the effort to create an international Earth Sciences Centre for minerals and plate tectonics. If granted, this project would include both the work of active gemologists and other related scientists, as well as a museum component.
Yet despite the many opportunities that Bancroft offers, the town faces many challenges, such as an aging population, youth migration and a lack of immigration.
Transportation and infrastructure are also issues, as the costs of maintaining its portion of both highways is high – and telephone and internet access are not as robust as they could be. The local high school that once educated 1,000 students now serves half that student population. Many young people often leave Bancroft for education and employment opportunities, yet there are some who grew up in the area that return in their mid-forties to “settle back home.”
Unlike some small towns, Bancroft has never been a single employer or industry town. The mines, mills and manufacturers of the past have smoothly integrated and transitioned over time into a multitude of new industries including retail, healthcare, government services, financial services, forestry, mineral ‘rockhounding’, arts and culture, and tourism. With an eye towards future growth, Bancroft seems well poised for future success.