Bancroft

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EXPLORE

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Bancroft is a town located on the York River in Hastings County in the Canadian province of Ontario. It was first settled in the 1850s by United Empire Loyalists and Irish immigrants. From the mid-1950s to about 1982 mining was the primary industry. A village until 1999, Bancroft then merged with Dungannon Township to form the Town of Bancroft. The population at the time of the 2016 Census was 3,881.

By 1823, the government had purchased nearly two million acres of land from the Chippewa and Mississaga First Nations including a tract on the York River in Hastings County which had been established in 1792. The area was mapped in 1835 by explorer David Thompson.

The first family to build a cabin here, the Clarks in 1853, did so to take advantage of the fur trade. Early settlers included James Cleak and Alfred Barker from England who arrived in 1855, settling on Quarry Lake. They got jobs in administration; Cleak opened a small store and Barker became the first postmaster. Over the years the settlement grew quickly; there were 89 families by 1868. Lumber companies arrived to remove timber.

Some of the earliest settlers were United Empire Loyalists, but from 1856 to 1861, most were from Ireland, fleeing the problems caused by the Great Famine (Ireland); many had farming experience and settled in the Township of Dungannon where the land was fertile. Most of the settlers were attracted to the area by the offer of free 100-acre (0.40 km2) parcels that had been advertised in Great Britain. Some of the residents also sold furs, obtained through trapping.

The settlement had various names over the first years, York Mills, York River and York Branch; when the post office opened in 1861 it was called York River. A grist mill opened in 1865, gold was discovered in 1866 and other minerals would be discovered later. The first church and two schools were built in 1870 In 1879 the name of the settlement was changed to Bancroft by Senator Billa Flint, after the maiden name of his wife. Flint convinced tradesmen to move to the area, which helped to attract more settlers. A woolen mill began operating in 1884.

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