BANCROFT’S HISTORICAL SITES AND PLAQUES
The Bancroft Hotel
The Bancroft Hotel has been a centre of business of social gatherings for over 100 years housing a number of businesses. The Bancroft Hotel was the York River Tavern for many years, and is now the Bancroft Brew Pub.
In 2018 the building was honoured by receiving a historic plaque, which resides on the outside wall of the hotel on the front patio. The plaque reads: In 1853, following the surveying of the Hastings Colonization Road, the Clark family were the first Europeans to settle here, along the banks of the York River. They were soon followed by James Cleak and Alfred Barker. A post office was established in 1861 and the settlement became Bancroft in 1879. This site, known simply as “Hotel Corner”, has long been the home of the “Bancroft Hotel and the centre of the community’s social and business activity. The hotel was destroyed in a major 1914 fire and was rebuilt immediately. The hotel remains an iconic structure for visitors and residents alike.
This Cairn of local stone was dedicated by the honourable William G. Davis, Premier of Ontario, on October 25, 1979 to commemorate the Village of Bancroft’s Centennial year. 1879-1979.
Bancroft War Memorial
This monument was built in memoriam of those lost in war, 1914-1918, 1939-1945, and the Korean War. It was constructed in 1956 by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 181 Bancroft. It can be found just south of station street in a park along the east shore of the York River.
Hastings Road, Ormsby
This road was begun in 1854 as part of a network of “Colonization Roads” planned by the government to open the southern fringe of the Precambrian Shield to settlement. Under the supervision of Robert Bird, construction began at the northern boundary of Madoc Township and within a year 40 miles of summer road had been built northward to a point near present-day Bancroft. The road, when completed, was about 100 miles in length. The free-grant lots along its course were quickly taken up but poor soil prevented the development of a prosperous agricultural settlement. When the decline of lumbering in the region removed a market for produce and a source of employment, the settlers abandoned their farms and the road fell into disuse.
The Peterson Road was named after Joseph S. Peterson, a surveyor who determined its route in this region. Constructed 1858-1863 at a cost of some $39,000, it stretched about 114 miles between the Muskoka and Opeongo Roads and formed part of a system of government colonization routes built to open up the southern region of the Precambrian Shield. Poor soil disappointed hopes of large-scale agricultural settlement along this road both on government “free-grant” lots and on the lands of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company. Though portions of the route were overgrown by the 1850s, the Maynooth-Combermere section added lumbering and now contributes to the development of an important Ontario vacation area.
Sinking of the Mayflower
November 12, 1912, nine people died when the 77ft long Mayflower sand in Kamaniskeg Lake, near Combermere Ontario. The boat was making it’s final run of the season to accommodate a request to bring a body to Combermere. The casket ended up saving three men, and desperate passengers clung to it as it floated to shore. You can find the plaque at Lookout Point Road, off Hwy 62, between Combermere and Purdy.
The Monck Road
The Plaque text reads: This road was constructed for the dual purpose of opening up a wilderness area to settlement and providing an alternative, less vulnerable military route between the upper Great Lakes and the Ottawa Valley. Its line from the vicinity of Lake Couchiching to the junction of the Hastings and Mississippi Colonization Roads at the hamlet of York River (now Bancroft), was surveyed in 1864-65 at the time of the American Civil War. Named in honour of the Governor General (1861-68), Lord Monck, construction was begun in 1866 and completed in 1873. Free grants of land along its route were made to persons fulfilling the required settlement duties.