Much talk and local ink has been spilled on the ruins known as the Hermitage in Ancaster. This historic edifice dates back to the 1830s when Colonel Otto Ives bought the property for himself, his wife and their niece.
The niece was rumoured to be a great beauty and had caught the eye of a man named William Black, a local coachman. William was madly in love, and when he was denied the permission to marry her, he took his own life by hanging himself in the stable. He was buried at the closest crossroads which are now known as "Lover's Lane".
The Hermitage Historic Centre is located on Mineral Springs Rd. near Sulfur Springs Rd. and consists of the ruins of the stone house and the gatehouse museum.
Reports run from people hearing the ghost of Black sobbing over the loss of his lover (and life,) to apparitions of a man and (occasionally,) a woman wandering the grounds.
One report even suggested a true "Super" supernatural occurrence when a group of young men say they actually saw the apparition of the house seemingly back from it's ruins to it's old glory including lighted windows and obvious signs of life! One person wrote to us that they saw the apparition of a "glowing" corpse near the old ruins. When they went to examine it, the corpse simply vanished.
No matter how one looks at it, the very nature of The Hermitage and its surrounding locale make it a natural for ghostly lore, and I'm sure that it's tales are far from all being told... so far.
Update: June 12th, 2002 We received the following e-mail last night...
Hello, my name is Mr. Lofchik and I am the operator of the Gatehouse museum at the Hermitage.
Now I've read your piece about the any ghosts that may be lurking around there, but like the local legend it is plagued by one small little fact.
Col. Ives's coachman, the Mr. William Black, did hang himself when he was denied permission to take the hand of Mrs. Ives's niece. One small detail is that he did NOT hang himself from the stable rafters by from a nearby tree.
You see, all stories of people seeing a mans' body swinging from a tree by the ruins can quickly be dismissed as crap for the this happened in or close to the 1840's. The Hermitage mansion wasn't built until 1855.
You see it would have been difficult for him to hang himself from the stable or gatehouse since they were built yet.....not would be for another 15-20 years.
No buildings existed on the site and the house in which this drama took place still sits about a kilometre to the east. Actually the Sheed home (Sheed being the first owner of the property) is privately owned and people still live there.
Personally I would like to have a conversation with them any spooky on goings but they don't seem to interested in enthusiasts trying to sneak around their private home.
Anyway, this is a common mistake in local legend and I didn't want you guys to be taken in by it. I have worked there for some time and besides a couple of naked weirdos I've never encountered anything unusual....
This certainly does not close the case on The Hermitage nor does it preclude the possibility of ghostly activity on the site but it does bring up some interesting questions and possibilities...
As always, if you'd like to re-but or comment, use the link below and send us your comments.
Thanks to John Robert Colombo's book Mysteries of Ontario for filling in the gaps.