What do you think of when you think of Straford?

The Stratford Festival, of course.

Swans, possibly.

Historic buildings and scenic vistas, perhaps.

But a motorcycle gang?

That doesn’t seem like part of Stratford’s fabric.

And yet, a gang known as ‘the Loners’ has recently set up shop in the Festival City.

“They’ve been here for a little while and they’ve caused no problems in the community,” says Mike Bellai, the city’s deputy police chief.

Biker experts say the Loners formed in 1979 and were one of the few Ontario gangs not to be absorbed into the Hells Angels.

It’s estimated that the Loners currently have about 50 members, most in Toronto.

So why expand to Stratford?

“I wish I could answer that. Wherever they seem to want to go, they seem to go,” says Bellai.

On the city’s downtown streets, far from the Loners’ east-end clubhouse, residents have mixed opinions on the new arrivals.

“It doesn’t seem like the type of community where you would expect to hear of motorcycle gangs. You think of Stratford as a bit more cultured,” says Laurie Sulivan.

Police say they’re keeping an eye on the Loners’ activities, but so far haven’t seen any cause for concern.

“There’s absolutely no reason for the citizens of Stratford to get into any sort of panic,” says Bellai.

Back downtown, Lois Griff says she sees nothing wrong with a motorcycle gang without proof of illicit activity.

“Until I know what they’re about, I don’t condemn them,” she says.