Photos, Videos and Story submitted by Aysha Tayab-Ratsep
It was the first day of fall and the timing couldn’t have been better to take a trip to Bancroft. The Bancroft and Area Autumn Studio Tour was taking place which meant that creativity was celebrated all over the area.
As soon as we arrived in Bancroft, our first order of business was to refuel with some caffeine. Enter Bancroft Place for the Arts and Partista Café. This place started out as a café and then over the years the arts community grew and the building was expanded into the gallery we know and love. I was particularly drawn to the pieces which reflected nature and autumn colours.
Being here gave us a firsthand view of the lifestyle and inspirations of the local community. We also had the chance to sit down and plan out the rest of our tour over a latte.
I learned that the Art Gallery of Bancroft has been in operation for 35 years and is completely volunteer-run.
Every month, the gallery highlights a local artist. The works of Rocky Dobey were featured this month. His exhibit “Intaglio Prints” told a story of his inspirations. There was one piece in front of the prints that struck a chord with me: it was this canoe.
There were no nails holding it together. Rather, it was held together by pieces of leather. The material you see in the front is dried maple sap. Pieces like these remind me of the endless possibilities when it comes to creativity.
I was really excited to go to Niffers Clothing. On our way into town, I saw a sign along the highway that advertised the store as “the cutest little store in town.” Since I’m drawn to all things cute, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Just look how tiny the store is!
The inside was just equally cute, if not cuter. It’s a place where storeowner Jennifer Martin sells her handmade clothing for young girls.
I chatted with her briefly and she told me that she always loved sewing. Coming from a Mennonite background, she always saw the value in handmade goods. That said, she always had a desire to make children’s clothing.
Afterwards, we had a delicious lunch at The Granite.
I had fish tacos and my husband had a falafel burger.
The combined ambience and meals were fantastic.
We were also curious to venture outside the downtown area. We went along the winding roads and made our way to the studio of Rene and Elaine Butikofer.
The plant mama in me was bursting with joy when I saw these gorgeous plant holders. I felt particularly connected to these works and the couple and so I purchased one piece.
I learned that this particular piece was made from cherry wood in Maynooth. It made me happy to know that I was purchasing local art made from local materials.
Even though we were relaxed and enjoying our time viewing these works of art, we were ready to take a short break. We checked into our suite at the lovely Benaaron Guest House. We took some time to enjoy the generous peace and tranquility in our accommodation. Owned by a wonderful couple Elaine and Ron Wannamaker, the couple truly make their guests feel at home. The beautifully designed space has 4 rooms, each with its own personality and charm. There is also a games room and a home theatre.
We were in the Sodalite Suite and let me just get this out of the way by saying that it was oh soda-lightful.
The view from our room was incredible.
We were told that the view changes all the time.
A few hours later, we went for dinner at The Blue Roof Bistro. We were so glad to have reservations here since it seemed to be a popular spot in the area. It’s run by Chuck Thompson and his wife Susan Dunlop who uses the space to showcase her beautiful art work.
Now, about that dinner. I had the seafood au gratin and my husband had the beef stroganoff.
Both dishes were generous, hearty, and positively wonderful. In fact, the portions along with the bread and salad made my husband pack the rest of his main meal home. That almost never happens because usually I’m the one who does this! We enjoyed each other’s company with some great food and art.
The following morning greeted us with this stunning sunrise.
Well, actually my husband woke me up to tell me about it. I jumped out of bed and onto the balcony just to capture this moment.
Then, I went back to sleep and woke up to this.
We were told in advance that there would be homemade scones and jam at our door when we woke up.
What a luxurious treat it was to enjoy these in our room with a cup of coffee. A couple hours later, we were served a fabulous breakfast.
Shortly after our breakfast, we packed up and made our way home.
I’d highly recommend a weekend like this one if you’re looking to get away and escape the fast-paced nature of everyday life.
What stops have you made along The Bancroft and Area Autumn Studio Tour? Share your photos on social media and be sure to tag Hastings County!
Story and photographs by Aysha Tayab-Ratsep
As one of our six Local Wanderers exploring Hastings County, Aysha enjoys Arts and Culture, Agri-Tourism and Paddling adventures.
She grew up in a rural community, suffers from an incurable travel bug, and is an ambassador for the road less travelled.
Learn more about Aysha and her adventures as well as the other five Local Wanderers and the excursions they've experienced across the County here.