President's Choice Financial.
For starters, the process itself was unexpectedly painless. In less than 2 weeks' time, I had transferred my payroll deposits and any pre-authorized payments to my new account. Every single step was quick and painless and made me wonder why in the world I had waited this long. I left my RRSPs and a line of credit at BMO since those services were free but more complicated to transfer, but I closed my checking account with them (not that they've noticed) and opened one with PC Financial instead (as well as a savings account, a line of credit, and a PC MasterCard) - all set up before stocking up on groceries at the same place.
I do most of my banking online anyway, so I haven't noticed any difference in how I do my banking since switching to a supposedly inferior banking institution. My money is still just as secure as with any of the main banks (in fact, PC Financial is a subsidiary of CIBC and fully covered by the CDIC Deposit Insurance). In addition, I already shop at Loblaws, so I can easily withdraw any cash I need or make deposits on my regular grocery run without having to make a separate visit to the bank. And any of those extra services you're worried about (such as certified cheques) - they are still accessible and there is a bank representative on site that you can talk to. You just might need to plan a little further ahead.
WHAT: Free banking
WHERE: PC Financial
WHEN: Any time you like
INSIDER TIPS: See if any of your friends have existing PC Financial accounts. I often get emails from them with promotional codes I can share with my friends - if they sign up, both of us get extra PC points, often worth $20-$30 in free groceries. I am happy to share mine if you don't know anyone.