The Revised History of The Hermitage Mansion in Ancaster, Ontario
(A suburb of Hamilton)
July 7th, 2004 12:18 AM

We have found more historical information that surrounds the Hermitage Mansion in Ancaster , Ontario, Canada. It changes everything we knew by the legends of the great estate. The TRUE FACTS are, there were two Hemitages on the same property.

Many paranormal groups that have come across the history to the mansion, located only the history of the name "The Hermitage Mansion" and did not connect to the thought that there were two Hermitages that were built in Ancaster Ontario. We did not think of the possibilty of a second Hermitage ourselves and we presented the Hermitage on our page as one mansion being built, complete with local legends.

So we apologize for not having the complete information at the time. We pride ourselves on being thorough and strive to be honest about any location that we put up to be true to the best of our knowledge. And as we come across more history of a location and it needs to be changed, then we will post it to inform you the viewer about the history.

Some groups hold tours of the Hermitage Mansion, charging a nominal fee, giving information as to what was believed to be the Only One Hermitage Mansion where everything took place. Such as the story of the two lovers between the niece of Otto Ives and the coachman William Black, later leading to Mr. Black hanging himself on a tree near the rear stables of the site where the Hermitage today stands in ruins. The tree that is noted by a tour group state this is where Mr. William Black had hung himself when in fact the tree is only 50 to 60 years old and does not fit into the time frame of the years 1833-1835.

We had always heard the stories of William Black hanging himself in the stables and never heard of the tree theory. We had also believed that the long room at the end of the back yard was the stables. However, upon seeing the layout of the house, we had discovered that it was, in fact, the wash house and laundry. Not all of the legends of the Hermitage took place at the ruins that stand today. Some of those legends took place at the first Hermitage Mansion that was built elsewhere on the same property.

We had the pleasure of speaking with a local historian that had a wealth of information into the Hermitage Mansion, and who knew some of the decendants from the Leith family. And the family that lives on the site where the first Hermitage was.

We also checked out some of the maps of the area to the Hermitage. There is a map in the gatehouse museum that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were two Hermitages built on the same property.


Above is a picture that was taken of the first Hermitage Mansion 1826-1855. The mansion was located just down the hill, by the pond on the Hermitage property.

"A brief History of the five owners of the Hermitage"

  • 1st Owner

  • The land that involves the two Hermitages was deeded by the crown to Henry Chrysler back in the year 1793.

  • 2nd Owner

  • Rev. George Sheed ( 1789-1832) came from Scotland to Ancaster in 1826 , where he had purchased the land now known as the Hermitage on LOT41/1 in Ancaster, Ontario. He had made arrangements with the Anglicans to have a church built.

    He had taken a holiday where he returned to Scotland in the year 1827. He then returned to Ancaster on June 22nd, 1827 where he stayed until his death in 1832. Upon his return from his holiday he built a manse that later was named "The Hermitage". This was the first of two homes to be named the "Hermitage". On July 10th, 1827 he was licensed to conduct marriages in the rites of the church of Scotland, and he preached in the Union Church ( later came to be St. Johns Anglican Church) until 1828. When the Anglicans bought out part of the Presbyterians share of the church Rev. Sheed used the money to start building a framed church ( The 1st St. Andrews Church) on Mineral Springs Road , but he died Nov 26th, 1832 , and he never did see his church completed.

    Pictured above is the St. Andrews Church that Rev. Sheed never got to see finished before his death.

    Pictured above is Rev. Sheed's grave site at St. Andrews Church located at Sulpher Springs Road in Ancaster by Wilson Street East.

    A Plaque is located on top of the tomb of Rev. Sheed's final resting place inside the burial grounds of the church he started back in 1827.

  • 3rd Owner

  • A Colonel Otto Ives ( 1804-1835) was the third land owner. He was an Englishman who had fought with the Greeks for the war of Indendence. He had met the daughter ( Magdalen) of a Governor of an Aegean island. The two of them fell in love and eloped to Ancaster in the spring of 1833. They had brought her niece with them to act as a companion for the bride to be. It was here that Otto Ives purchased the Hermitage from the heirs of Rev. George Sheed.

    The legendary Love Story

    Otto Ives had hired a scottish coachman by the name of Mr. William Black. Mr. Black was also a tutor in the English language. Mr. Ives had the coachman teach his wife's niece to speak and write the language. It did not take too long for the coachman and the niece to fall in love. So Mr. William Black went to Otto Ives and asked for his wife's niece's hand in marriage. Mr. Otto Ives was very upset by the thought of the coachman and niece to wed. He rejected the proposal made by Mr. Black. The next morning Mr. Ives and his wife (Magdalen) were to go out for the day, yet the coachman was not at the front door with the carriage as planned. Mr. Ives went out to the barn to see why the coachman did not bring the coach around. It was there that Otto Ives made the discovery of seeing Mr. William Black's body dangling from the rafters in the barn around the first Hermitage.

    Map showing where the barns were located on the property , from the left to the right , hay barn, big barn (stables), farm house.

    From left to right, Hermitage farm house 1833, large barn (stables), hay barn.

    Lovers Lane

    In those days, a suicide could not be buried on consecrated ground. Therefore, according to the tradition of the time period, Mr. William Black was buried at the angle of Lovers Lane and Sulpher Springs Road, in Ancaster. Thus the name Lovers Lane came to be. Some folks have claimed to hear a soft moan when they travel by the intersection that sounds to be that of a man sobbing. Others say it is only the wind going through the trees that makes the sound.

    Mr Otto Ives died in 1835 just two years after he had purchased the Hermitage. His widow and her niece moved to Wales after his death. And in the year 1853 sold the Hermitage to G.G. Leith who then built the second Hermitage Mansion on the property and kept the name the Hermitage.

    Pictured above is the final resting place of Otto Ives, that is located in St. Johns Church burial grounds, located at Halson and Wilson Streets in Ancaster.

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    Revised Hermitage History (1)
    Revised Hermitage History (2)
    Revised Hermitage History (3)
    August/2003 (1)
    August/2003 (2)
    Oct 7/2003
    October 18/2003 (1)
    October 18/2003 (2)
    November 21/2003 (1)
    November 21/2003 (2)
    November 21/2003 (3)
    November 21/2003 (4)
    November 22/2003
    November 23/2003 (1)
    November 23/2003 (2)
    January 1/2004 (1)
    January 1/2004 (2)
    September 30/2005

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