We love a nature walk with a side of history. Tucked away on the Dundas Valley trail network in Ancaster lies the captivating Hermitage Gatehouse ruins and hiking paths.
Once a grandiose stone mansion, this historic site was built in the 1850s and is now a collection of stone remnants in the middle of a park.
The mansion was a true work of art in its heyday, with red bricks from the Dundas Valley and limestone sills from the Credit River Valley, according to the Ontario Trails Council.
The Hermitage’s history is a fascinating one.
The land had changed hands from Reverend George Sheed to Englishman Otto Ives, and eventually to George Leith, a Scottish baronet’s second son, according to Conservation Hamilton.
Because he was the second son, Leith couldn’t inherit the Scotland property so he was sent off to Canada with a good chunk of money to get settled.
So, he built a grand home and numerous outbuildings, some of which can still be seen today.
The last inhabitant of the Hermitage was Mrs. Alma Dick Lauder, the daughter of the Leiths.
Tragically, a fire claimed the mansion in 1934, but that didn’t stop Mrs. Lauder from continuing to live there.
She built a small house within the ruins, where she lived until her passing in 1942.
In 1972, the Hamilton Conservation Authority took ownership of 120 acres of the land, preserving this historic treasure.
With Halloween around the corner, legend has it the ruins are also haunted by the ghost of a lovelorn coachman who died at the property in the 1800s.
“On [a] moonlit night, some say that he can be heard crying for his lost love,” says Conservation Halton.
Visitors can explore the ruins, observe the craftsmanship, and maybe spot fossils embedded in the stones.
Steps away from the Hermitage Gatehouse is the beautiful Hermitage Cascade waterfall.
The Hermitage Trail has a number of beautiful trails through vast tree canopies which are extra beautiful this time of year.
So, take a trip down Sulphur Springs Road and visit a place where nature thrives and time stands still.
Where: Sulphur Springs Road, Ancaster