Sometimes you just find something by chance.
I had decided on my way home from Toronto to go for a hike. I chose Dundas Valley Conservation Area, Headwaters Trail – a relatively easy 6 km loop in Ancaster. I’m on the trail, dutifully reading my map, when I see something called, “The Hermitage”. I almost passed it by, but my UE instinct made me turn around and explore what I found to be ruins of an old stone house. I was glad to have my blackberry on me as otherwise I wouldn’t have had a camera. It was only later that I learned that an urban legend is associated with this house, which makes sense given its somewhat creepy look and location in the woods.
According to the plaque in front of the ruins, the Hermitage was built in the mid 1800’s by George Leith, a wealthy Scottish immigrant. George built the home with limestone quarried from the property and used it as a summer residence, wintering in either Hamilton or Scotland. The house was destroyed in 1934 by fire, however, George’s daughter, Eleanor Alma Dick-Lauder, built another home in its ruins and lived there until 1942.
THE LEGEND OF LOVER’S LANE
Before George built the stone house, the property had other houses on it, built by other owners. One such owner was Otto Ives, whose niece is the subject of the “Legend of Lover’s Lane”. According to the legend, Otto’s niece fell in love with the family’s coachman, William Black. They courted secretly until William came forth to Otto, admitting his love for Otto’s niece and asking for her hand in marriage. Otto refused William on the basis of class and sent him away. William left broken hearted and hung himself by the rafters in the carriage house. Otto found him in the morning but had no pity and was disgusted by William throwing away his life for love. Otto cut William down, threw his body into a manure cart, and buried him at the crossroads of Sulpher Springs Road and Lover’s Lane (named after the Legend). It is said that, to this day, William walks from his grave to the Hermitage and along the winding road of Sulpher Springs, rope in hand, looking for his love. Courtesy of: http://www.hauntedhamilton.com/local_hermitage.html#legend.
According to Creepy Canada, the ghost of Eleanor Alma Dick-Lauder also roams the Hermitage at night and has the ability to make visitors see the Hermitage in its original proud state. See - http://www.ghostwalks.com/ghostwalks/hermitage.htm.
If you would like to visit the Hermitage, please see the map below. Ghost Walks of Hamilton also offers tours at night, complete with the telling of the Legends associated with the Hermitage.
For a map of the trail system and the exact location of the Hermitage, follow link, and click on Dundas Valley – Main Loop Trail, Page 1 - http://www.conservationhamilton.ca/area-information/conservation-areas/area-information/dundas-valley.