Ancaster, Ontario

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Ancaster
township established 1793
amalgamated with City of Hamilton in 2001
The historic 1834 Griffin House
The historic 1834 Griffin House
Coordinates: 43°13′N 80°0′W / 43.217°N 80.000°W / 43.217; -80.000
Country Canada
Province Ontario
City Hamilton
Government
 • MP David Sweet
 • MPP Ted McMeekin
Population
 • Total 33,232
  2006 Census
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Forward sortation area L9G, L9K
Area code(s) 905 and 289

Ancaster is a community located on the Niagara Escarpment, within the city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This former town was founded officially in 1793 and was one of the oldest European communities established in present day Ontario along with Windsor (1749),[1] Kingston (1780), St. Catharines (1787–89), Grimsby (1790), Niagara-on-the-Lake (1792) and Toronto (1793).

By 1823, due in large part to its easily accessible water power located at the juncture of already existing historical trading routes, Ancaster had become Upper Canada's largest industrial and commercial center. Additionally, Ancaster had at that time attracted the 2nd largest populace (1,681) in Upper Canada trailing only Kingston (population 2,500),[2] but surpassing the populations of nearby Toronto (1,376) and Hamilton (1,000).[3] After this initial period of prosperity beginning in the late 18th century, sudden significant water and rail transportation advancements of the early 19th century would soon better benefit Ancaster's neighbouring towns situated closer to the Lake Ontario waterfront. Stationary steam engines for industries were also being rapidly developed in the 19th century that would eventually make Ancaster's water powered industries less vital. As a result, after the 1820s, Ancaster's influence during the remainder of the 19th century would begin to wane.

From the late 19th century Ancaster's population would remain static until 1946 when new subdivisions around the village were established. The population expanded further with the completion of the Hamilton-Ancaster section of Highway 403 in 1968 and the introduction of sewer systems in 1974. After 1970, its population essentially doubled from 15,000 residents to its present-day 33,000.

Geography, economy and population[edit]

Ancaster's geography has had a very significant affect on human settlement patterns throughout its prehistory and in the present day. A highly influential geographical formation has been the Niagara Escarpment consisting primarily of limestone formed from ancient fossilized sea organisms that spans from present day New York State through Ontario to Illinois. The escarpment itself created the water power that encouraged early European settlers to gravitate to the area in the late 1700s. However, this energy source would not have been accessible if the escarpment were not navigable. This long-meandering landform generally proved to be an inhospitable transportation barrier for thousands of years for past indigenous cultures. However, a natural break in this escarpment in the precise area that would become Ancaster village had for millennia created an opportunity for people to traverse up and down the escarpment providing a relatively easy navigable land transportation gateway from the head of the lake to the surrounding land on the escarpment and vice versa.[4]

Ancaster Village circa 1927-32

Ancaster is the most westerly portion of the Golden Horseshoe conurbation of southern Ontario. It is generally considered to be an affluent bedroom community whose residents are typically professionals who work in downtown Hamilton, Brantford, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga or Toronto.

The former municipality had a population of 33,232 in the 2006 census, a considerable increase from the 2001 census figure of 27,485. Development in Olde Ancaster, the historic village core, has been tightly controlled. Its current population growth and building boom occurs mainly on the east side of Highway 403 in such typically suburban commercial developments as the Power Centre and residential developments such as the Meadowlands. It has resided in the 905 area code since the latter's creation, and its telephone exchange prefixes are 648 and 304, majority being 648.

History[edit]

The creation of the Upper and Lower Canadian provinces (colonies) from the division of the Province of Quebec (1763-1791) colony by the Parliament of Great Britain's Constitutional Act of 1791 had a deciding influence on the timing of the founding of Ancaster. At its inception, Upper Canada was only sparsely settled (unlike the more established Lower Canada) and its land had not been officially surveyed to any great extent. Thus, there was an urgency by the then Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe to survey this new and relatively barren province for establishing military roads and for preventing settlers from clearing and settling land not legally belonging to them. Predating Upper Canada, however, the earliest European settlers to arrive and clear land in the mid-18th century in what would eventually become Ancaster were mostly a wilderness society made up of American farmers travelling north searching for arable land [5] and to a lesser extent French speaking fur traders and British immigrants travelling southward. Also arriving into this area again travelling north in substantial numbers around 1787 with the incentive of inexpensive land grants were the United Empire Loyalists still loyal to the British crown who were fleeing from the United States after the 1776 American War of Independence. Britain's promise of free land brought many people from the new republic to the south and east, who did not exhibit the same loyalty to the crown as the Loyalists. This would eventually lead to series of defections, accusations and treasonous acts during the War of 1812 that precipitated the largest mass hangings in Canadian history, the so-called Bloody Assizes whose trial took place in Ancaster in 1814. When Upper Canada was invaded by the United States during the War of 1812 its occupants were primarily of American ancestry. However, after the war the province would have a noticeably more British centered influence.[6] Britain expected its colonies to purchase all essential finished goods needed for day-to-day living from the mother country in exchange for raw materials such as fur and lumber. However, this 'arrangement' naturally proved to be very inefficient and impractical in practice so waterwheels, mills and factories soon hurriedly evolved in favourable towns in Upper Canada that had abundant water power, fertile soil, and good transportation access such as Ancaster that could then provide the new settlers with a good measure of self-sufficiency.[7] In general terms, the mindset of typical Upper Canada settlers could be described as new arrivals that "evinced any amount of dislike of the Americans but something less than love of the Mother country. The early English settlers were independent cattle, they had emigrated; not to perpetuate a mould but to escape from it. They scattered far and wide; they would seem to have selected their lands rather like rummagers at a bargain sale, by feel or look. The Loyalists were more gregarious; they thickened wherever there was good soil or waterwheel sites". [8]

In an age before steam power, the wilderness that would become Ancaster had an early economic advantage due to the fact that it existed amidst a natural break in the Niagara Escarpment. Thus even its relatively minor water resources were valuable because they were easily accessible. Just as vital an influence in Ancaster's rapid development was the fact that it already had access to two very important prehistoric First Nations roads. The first European settlers to set foot in this region would have encountered the Iroquois Trail and the Mohawk Trail intersecting precisely in the area that would eventually become Ancaster Village. This aboriginal Iroquois trail had become the most important transportation route in Upper Canada. It meandered down the escarpment from the future Ancaster into what would eventually become Hamilton, Ontario towards present day Lewiston, New York, eventually linking up with similar aboriginal trails in New York. In the other direction the Iroquois trail led from present day Ancaster to what would eventually become the town of Brantford, Ontario whereupon the trail then branched off into the Detroit Path and the Long Point trail. By 1770, the 80 kilometre Mohawk Trail was essentially the escarpment accompaniment of the lakeside Iroquois trail. The Mohawk Trail ran parallel to the Iroquois trail and originated and diverged from the Iroquois trail in present day Queenston, Ontario until finally ending and reconnecting to the Iroquois Trail in present day Ancaster at what is now known as the intersection of Rousseaux and Wilson Street. The two trails actually interconnected in four locations along the Mohawk Trail's 80 kilometre route when favourable escarpment conditions permitted. By 1785, the Iroquois Trail passing through present day Ancaster had been widened to accommodate horse and buggy traffic. Another influential road that intersected the Mohawk Trail very close to Ancaster Village was the Twenty Mile road that followed the Twenty Mile Creek up to present day Smithville, Ontario and beyond.[9] Lastly, Ancaster also had fertile soil and abundant fresh water which encouraged pioneer settlers to arrive in this region to clear the land and plant crops for subsistence agriculture.

Ancaster, 1910

Ancaster was established formally in 1792, but the area now referred to as Ancaster Village had been referred to informally by local villagers by the more colourful name of Wilson's Mills. This was in reference to millwright James Wilson who along with his affluent fur trader, entrepreneur and business partner Richard Beasley were the primary founders of Ancaster village. With Beasley’s financial backing, Wilson built a gristmill in 1791 and a sawmill in 1792 that would be the only mills west of Grimsby for many years. In order to attract workers to his mills, Wilson needed to provide the social amenities and commercial framework for an area of land which in that period was an isolated frontier forest with accessible water power situated precisely at the juncture of already well-established pre-historical indigenous transportation trails. In that period the area was populated with just a smattering of First Nations aboriginal peoples and wilderness farmers. Again, with Beasley's financial assistance, Wilson managed to generate the impetus for a community by constructing a general store, a blacksmith shop, a distillery and a tavern all within walking distance of his mills. As a result Wilson's newly arrived employees began to build their homes in close proximity to their place of work.[10] and thus the necessary factors were in place for the community of Wilson's Mills to thrive. Wilson's primary residence was also used as a school, a magistrate's court and a cooperage.[3][11] To this day, the main street that winds through the historical Ancaster Village that once was a section of the original aboriginal Iroquois Trail still bears the legacy of Wilson's name. By 1793 an area of land that contained Wilson's Mills was finally surveyed and officially came to be known as Ancaster Township as chosen by John Graves Simcoe. Simcoe was apparently inspired in the name choice by Peregrine Bertie, the 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven. Thus, Wilson's Mills was indirectly renamed Ancaster after an ancient village and former Roman town that stills exists in the district of Lincolnshire, England.

In 1794, Wilson sold his half share of the grist-mill and sawmill business to Montreal born fur trader, interpreter, businessman, militia officer and office holder Jean Rousseaux 'St. John' who already had a home and general store on Wilson Street. Rousseaux's Ancaster general store experienced frequent trading with Joseph Brant's Mohawks and other Iroquois people from the Six Nations confederacy located at the Grand River. Rousseaux would eventually buy out Beasley's remaining share of the mills in 1797. Rousseaux had also been Governor Simcoe's official native and French interpreter and was also a close confidante and advisor to native leader Joseph Brant. [12] James Wilson at this point moved away and the local villagers by 1795 gradually began referring to the community of Wilson's Mills as Ancaster Village. Curiously, the detailed whereabouts or activities of James Wilson after his departure are not well documented. There is evidence that Wilson was born before 1755, had a wife and three children but his burial location is unknown.[13] With the profits from this business transaction Rousseaux built the Union Hotel in 1797 on Wilson Street, which is now remembered as the location of the Bloody Assize trials in 1814 during the War of 1812. By building his hotel on Wilson Street, Rousseaux reversed the then trend of building exclusively on the Mohawk trail. [14] In 1794-1797, Rousseaux also added a general store, brewery and distillery as well as hiring Ancaster's first school teacher. His other accomplishments being the first assessor, tax collector, magistrate and the Township's first Lieutenant Colonel of Militia. Rousseaux also became a considerable land owner and assisted significantly with native relations, was able to bridge French and English cultures successfully and was instrumental in the early development of Ancaster and old York. Rousseaux eventually resold the mills to the Union Mill Company in 1802 and they ultimately were destroyed by fire in 1812. However the mills brief 20 years of service (1791-1812) had provided the initial catalyst for the economic and social development of Ancaster Township. Rousseaux died of pleurisy at Fort George (Niagara-on-the-Lake) during the war of 1812. [15]

In 1798, the Hatt brothers Richard and Samuel from Dundas established their Red Mill downstream below Ancaster Falls at the base of the so called "devil's elbow". They also widened the original native trail into what would be eventually known as the Old Ancaster-Dundas Road in order to provide better commercial access. In 1799, William Vanderlip built a hotel that in 1844 was sold to Adam Duff which gave birth to the nickname 'Duff's Corners' for describing the well-known intersection on Highway 53. By 1800, native mail couriers had been established between Montreal and Detroit with Ancaster appointed as the branching point for Queenston. In 1805, the Hatt brothers bought a majority of the village site from James Wilson and proceeded to subdivide it into streets and building lots. By 1810 the population of Ancaster had steadily risen to 400 residents yet in just 7 years by 1817 its populace would more than double to 1,037. In that same year Robert Gourlay carefully documented that Ancaster had 162 houses, 4 gristmills, 5 sawmills, 1 carding machine, 1 fulling mill, 5 doctors, 1 Episcopalian minister, and 1 Methodist meeting house. In 1820, Job Lodor acquired the Union Mill Company and rejuvenated Ancaster's industrial base. By 1823, the first post office was established. In 1824, the Ancaster Union Church was built. By 1825, Ancaster had constructed a public reading room with papers from Niagara, York and New York. A foundry making plough shears was established in 1825 by William Wiard. In 1826, Jacob Gabel started a tannery; Robert Douglas started a brewery and John Galt established Ancaster as his headquarters for the Canada Company. 1827 marked the year that inaugurated the publication of George Gurnett's Gore Gazette and the Ancaster, Hamilton, Dundas and Flamborough Advertiser. By 1835, Job Lodor was the only person in Upper Canada who managed to obtain banking privileges and thus the Gore Bank was established in the village in 1836. Also in 1836, the population of Ancaster would reach 2,664. In 1837 a group of Red Coated Soldiers appeared in the village to announce the MacKenzie and Papineau rebellions. By 1840 Ancaster had 5 hotels. In 1844, Dr. Richardson opened his practice in the village. Eyre Thuresson founded a threshing machine factory in 1846, a stone mill in 1862, another card mill upstream in 1863 and reorganized the Cane Knitting Factory in 1865. In 1847, N. and E. Wiard re-opened the McLauglin foundry to make ploughs. Harris and Alonzo Egleston arrived in 1832 and began working at William Wiard's foundry and eventually bought him out. The Egleston's then proceeded to expand their own business empire which included building a foundry in 1843 employing 25 people and rebuilding a gristmill in 1863 at the present day location of the Old Ancaster Mill on the old Dundas Road. This Egleston mill was the 4th Ancaster mill and the third to be rebuilt at this current location. Wilson's original mills burnt down in 1812. Upon rebuilding, Wilson's mills were relocated from this original site at Wilson and Rousseaux Street a little further downstream and rebuilt in stone at the present Old Ancaster Mill location on Old Dundas Road. Again, at the same location, a second mill burnt down in 1818 as well as a third mill that was damaged by fire in 1854. Wilson's original 1791-1792 mill foundations still exist 75 yards upstream from the Wilson and Rousseaux Street intersection but are hidden with vegetation. The much restored and modified remnants of Egleston's 1854 mill now operates as a restaurant and banquet hall. The Barracks of 1812 still stand as a reminder of the war of 1812. By May 1866, the first public telephone was set up in Gurnett's store but was disconnected from lack of use.

By 1869, Ancaster was a Village in the Township of Ancaster County Wentworth with a population of 500. Mr. K. Thuresson turned out card clothing. The Ancaster Knitting Company employed over 100 in the manufacture of knitted goods. Messrs. H & A Egleston manufactured agricultural implements, cotton and woolen machinery. Mr. A Egleston employed 20 in woolen and cloth mills.[16]

In 1871 the still existing and currently well maintained Ancaster Township Hall opened at a cost of $2,400. Additional examples of Victorian architecture are also located on Wilson Street, amongst them the Richardson residence, which was built in 1872 as a wedding present for Dr. Henry Richardson and his new bride Sarah Egleston. Other similar structures includes St. John's Church 1869, the Gurnett home 1826, Gurnett General Store 1826, Hammill house 1860, the Egleston house, Job Lodor's home 1820, Rousseau Hotel 1832 and the Thuresson home 1872 to name just a few. The oldest building in Ancaster is the Tisdale house at 314 Wilson Street which was built circa 1806 and whose current function is a police museum. The traveling expedition of Edison's magical phonograph was exhibited in the Township Hall in 1878. In 1891, John Heslop was murdered in his home on Mineral Springs Road and the murder case remains unsolved to this day. After 1900, affluent Hamilton industrialists began purchasing farm land close to Ancaster village for building estates. By 1946, housing subdivisions began to be established around the village and thus began the post-World War II population expansion that continues to this present day with the current housing construction in the Meadowlands subdivision.[3][3]

Ancaster's dominant position in the region as an influential industrial, commercial and farming community throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries would soon be short-lived due to sudden modern transportation advancements in its neighbouring towns. Soon nearby Dundas and a small farm settlement close to the lakefront that by 1833 would be established as the town of Hamilton would soon become more influential mainly because of the successful completion of the following three transportation projects: the completion of the Burlington Canal in 1832 that connected Burlington Bay (Hamilton Harbour) to Lake Ontario, the completion of the Desjardins Canal in 1837 that enabled lake vessels to enter nearby Dundas through Hamilton Harbour and the completion in 1855 of The Great Western Railway connection to Hamilton (and eventually Dundas) enabled Hamilton, which already had flourishing and expanding ports, to become the prominent urban and commercial settlement in the region. Another factor in Ancaster's gradual economic decline was that stationary steam engines by the 1840's had begun powering industries thus locating industries adjacent to water power was less vital. In fact by this period even Ancaster had started to introduce steam power to its factories however it was no longer able to compete economically with Hamilton's natural shipping harbour and railway.[17]A final contributing factor to Hamilton's dominance was the fact it was chosen to be the administrative center for the new Gore District in 1816[9] and was voted to be the county town instead of Ancaster. Ancaster had been the leading candidate in 1812 to be the county town and a petition had been signed with 200 signatures to further strengthen that proposal. The petitioners had argued that Ancaster's advantages were its flourishing Union Mills and other industries combined with its elegant setting which they believed would make it the most suitable candidate for building a new county courthouse. However the war of 1812 had interupted this original selection process and by 1816 the promising village of Hamilton was chosen instead even though Ancaster at that time was still the most influential village in Western Upper Canada.[18]

In the latter half of the 19th century Ancaster became an unimposing gristmill hamlet and police village. Ancaster's many derelict burnt down or abandoned factories such as the gutted three story Ancaster carriage factory littered its surroundings in that era like modern ruins that shouted at a former glory. The economic reality was that these former Ancaster factories would be rebuilt elsewhere. Ancaster would not have access to a modern transportation system until the Brantford and Hamilton Electric Railway intersected Ancaster Village in 1907 thus making fresh milk and other perishable foods, general supplies and mail easily deliverable on a daily basis for the first time. The arrival of the B&H radial line corresponded with the inevitable process of change that Ancaster was undergoing that is clearly recognizable today from that of a former prominent industrial and highly influential self-sufficient village to its current status as a bedroom community of Hamilton. Interestingly, the evidence for this radial train is still easily visible in Ancaster village by a well maintained gravel path behind St. John's Anglican Church on Wilson Street. Walkers and cyclists can still follow this old radial line path down the escarpment (behind Meadowlands shopping centre) to the Hamilton Chedoke Golf Course. The radial line was dismantled in 1931 as a condition of sale from the Cataract Company. With the advent of competition from the automobile and bus companies in North America at the turn of the 20th century, generally only publicly owned streetcar companies had the financial means to survive into the 1950s.

At the end of the 19th century, the townsfolk of Ancaster were certainly conscious that their town had once been a glowing star in Upper Canada that had quickly lost its luster during the Victorian age despite its second successful wave of industrialization in the 1820s. In 1897, local author Alma Dick-Lauder writing about Ancaster in the Hamilton Spectator using the colourful language of that time lamented that,

"So who can say that new life may not once more flow to the aged village, now high and dry on old time's sand banks, bringing back her bright meridian bloom and vigour of 70 years ago? Fanned by the breath of electricity to spring like a Phoenix from her bed of ashes-ashes, understand, being principally the matter choking up the old place with a fire record unequalled since the days of Sodom, making her an object of terror to her friend, derision to her foes and a hoo-doo to the guileless insurance agent. It is rather melancholy, on a summer's day, to stand on the high bridge and watch the waters slouching by like a gang of crystal dwarfs out of a job, idling and playing and painting the 'beautiful, waving hair of the dead' grass green among the fallen ruins, which a few years ago were instinct with the hum of industry, pouring forth at stated hours, with jangle of bells, a cheerful, clattering stream of bread winners, giving life and animation to the scene, in contrast to the occasional man who now meets the casual glance up street in the sunny noon hours".[19]

Alma Dick-Lauder was referring to the fact that by 1897, although Ancaster Township had a population of 4,000, the solitary industry that remained was Egleston's gristmill. The 'fire record' Alma refers to was the burning of the following: John J. Ryckman's store in 1841, St. Johns Church in 1868, The Ancaster Knitting Factory in 1875, the Morris S. Lowrey Hotel in 1881, Egleston's foundry in 1883, Thuresson's Foundry in 1884 and finally the Ancaster Carriage Factory in 1885. By Alma's expression the 'meridian bloom of 70 years ago' she was referring to the fact that in 1820 Job Lodor had purchased the Union Mills and in so doing had instantly transformed Ancaster's industrial center to the point where it was once again, albeit temporarily, the unrivalled commercial and industrial hub of the Gore district. At the time of Alma's 1897 newspaper article, Ancaster had gone from having three schools in 1835 to just one remaining school but had managed to develop cultural institutions such as an orchestra, a literary society and an enclosed curling rink. Job Lodor as well as many other prominent as well as lesser known early Ancaster settlers left behind sometimes still legible tombstones and grave markers in the cemeteries belonging to St. John's Anglican and St. Andrew's Presbyterian Churches located on Wilson Street.

According to Dick-Lauder's late 19th century description of Job Lodor,

"Somewhere about the year of grace 1820, the 'man-of-the-time' came and took up his abode in the village where he henceforth lived and where he died and is buried, after having contributed much to the advancement of Ancaster in many ways. This enterprising pioneer was named Job Loder, and he was the builder and owner of all the mills and water privileges of the whole place for many years, running grist mills, saw mill, carding and woolen mills all along the stream on the site of the present ruins. Mr Loder also had a general store close to his house in the village, where he did a running business, giving constant employment to four clerks. Finally the old gentlemen made so much money that he didn't know what to do with it, so he sold out his mills and water privileges to a person named [Mr.] Russell".[20]

In the same period in 1897, Lauder chronicled what would have been in that era a typical but now lost experience of travelling up the escarpment to Ancaster on horse and buggy which she fancifully described,

"It is a royal progress, that gradual ascent to Ancaster, and even the nobodies must turn their head in right royal fashion from side to side to greet the 'woodsey smell' of the mossy fern carpet spread over the rocks there in the shade to catch a breath from 'the far off greenhouses of God' to look deep into the rocky gorge where the bridge crosses over a real Hieland stream foaming down in haste after rains, round boulders and over hollow to join fortunes with the Yuba (nickname of Ancaster's main stream) hastening from its work above at Ancaster. Just here the road begins to crawl and so do the horses, giving time to enjoy all the beauteous vale of the fountains, which lies revealed, perhaps in level beams of evening, to the never satisfied eye. Presumably it was good luck and water privileges, more that inherent good taste, which led the earliest forefathers of the hamlet to form a nucleus at Ancaster, but it is hard to imagine, looking back from the turn of the mountain, how they could possibly have made a better selection ... It would appear also that there has always been an unusual percentage of good looks amongst the Ancastrians in days gone by, as well as today".[21]

Fiddler's Green road was apparently not named after a place or person but rather an activity. It turns out that by the late 19th century, Fiddler's Green was Ancaster's tawdry and hence very popular entertainment center once located in precisely the area between present day Ravina Court and Douglas Street. In more recent times this area was a busy hive of activity every Monday as the Ancaster Auction barn was active there until as recently as 1985. During auction Mondays, it was not an uncommon site to see farmers tackling runaway piglets or rounding up stray calves on surrounding house properties. However even during this latter period when this land was used as an auction for hogs and cattle, the remnants of an old race track on the premises was still easily visible. However, 100 years ago, this area was "a place where fiddlers would gather and perform at what was known as the Fiddler's Green Inn, a popular place for musicians to come and perform. The area was popular for horse racing and drinking, which in turn attracted more spectators, a common stop over or a communications point. As a great number of travelers visited the area, like any other port of call, the taverns and the inns sprang up".[22]

The Ancaster Fair has been an annual agricultural and social event since 1850 except for 1937 when it was cancelled due to a case of infantile paralysis. Originally the fair was held at Wilson and Academy Streets in the Village core. In 1894 it moved to Wilson and Cameron Drive driving park where it remained until its centennial year in 1950 when it moved to Garner Road. After nearly 60 years at the Garner Road site, the Ancaster Fair in 2009 has moved to 630 Trinity Road.

In 1976, an Ancaster Town Council vote reversed a long-standing policy that would finally allow Ancaster restaurants to apply for liquor licenses. Other than the LCBO and Brewers Retail outlets that were established in Ancaster in the 1950s, the village had up to that point been 'dry', presumably since Prohibition in Canada. Ancaster's earlier pioneers however experienced an entirely different social environment. Again according to Dick-Lauder writing in 1897, "Ancaster saw plenty of life during the rebellion of 1837, when it was quite a frequent thing for all the inns, five in number, and many of the private houses to be full over night of redcoats passing towards the west".

During this period Ancaster Township was attached variously to Nassau District, Home District, York County (West Riding) and Halton County. When Halton County and Wentworth County joined temporarily from 1850 to 1854, Ancaster remained permanently attached to Wentworth County, where it remains today in the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth

Ruins of the Hermitage.

The Hermitage is a popular site in Ancaster. This historic house was once the property of Reverend George Sheed in 1830. Since then the house had changed ownership many times before burning to the ground in 1934. The last owner of The Hermitage was in fact local author Alma Dick-Lauder who has been referenced above. The fire that eventually consumed The Hermitage occurred directly from a party that she had been hosting.[23] The shell of the old house and surrounding buildings can still be visited today. One of the main draws of this old property is the legend of the property being haunted. There are ghost tours run throughout the summer with the tour guides telling haunted stories of the land and the surrounding county.[24]

Griffin House is a historic house associated with the Underground Railroad.

Government[edit]

When it became part of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth in 1974, the Town of Ancaster absorbed the Township of Ancaster (including other hamlets like Jerseyville, Lynden and Alberton). The new town had two representatives on the regional council which totaled (with the Regional Chair) about 20 members.

It was amalgamated with the nearby City of Hamilton in 2001. The amalgamation was bitterly and unsuccessfully protested by its residents and those of adjacent communities (such as Dundas and Flamborough and Glanbrook), particularly since the Progressive Conservative MPP Toni Skarica government had promised in the last election that the amalgamation would not occur.

Skarica resigned in protest, and a local Flamborough Mayor, Ted McMeekin, who led the fight in opposing the amalgamation, won the Liberal party nomination winning the by-election on an anti-amalgamation platform. Nonetheless, the amalgamation was not rescinded by the Harris government.

The community is in the Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale federal electoral district, represented by David Sweet of the Conservative Party of Canada, and in the Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale provincial electoral district represented by Ted McMeekin of the Ontario Liberal Party. Following the redistribution of Electoral Seating in 2013, the town is now located in the newly created Federal Riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. This replaced the Ancaster - Dundas - Flamborough - Westdale Riding.

Education[edit]

Ancaster was part of the Wentworth County Board of Education since its inception, and was covered by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board when it was created in 1998. The town's only public institute of secondary education was Ancaster High School until 2005. Today, it is no longer classified as a vocational school, its official name is Ancaster High School. Other secondary schools in Ancaster are Bishop Tonnos Secondary School belonging to the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, and Hamilton District Christian High School, an independent Christian high school that moved to Ancaster in 1989.

Public elementary schools in Ancaster include Fessenden, Rousseau, and C.H. Bray (kindergarten to Grade 6) and these students upon graduation generally end up going to Ancaster Senior Public School (grades 7 and 8) except for Ancaster Meadow public elementary students (kindergarten to grade 8). In the Catholic elementary school system, St. Ann's, St. Joachim's, Holy Name of Mary and Immaculate Conception students (kindergarten to grade 8) generally end up at Bishop Tonnos Secondary School.

Post-secondary is only available at Redeemer University College, a Christian institution closely associated with the Christian Reformed Church. It was incorporated in 1980 and began classes in Hamilton two years later. It built a campus in Ancaster in 1986 where it had its first graduating class. It had cooperative relations with McMaster University, which provided some instructors and some cross-listed courses. By 2000, it had acquired its present name and its graduates obtained Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees, instead of Bachelors of Christian Studies.

The Ancaster Public Library, a branch of the Hamilton Public Library System, originated in 1955 as a member of the Library System of Ontario. It was eventually relocated to 300 Wilson Street East in 1967 as a Centennial project after several previous moves. The library was reopened on November 27, 2006 after an extensive project that involved extending the library to include the entire first floor of the building.

Sports and Recreation[edit]

The Hamilton Golf and Country Club was founded in 1894 and was originally sited beside the Hamilton Jockey Club (now Centre Mall), moving to Ancaster in 1916. It hosted the Canadian Open in 2003, 2006 and again in 2012.

The Ancaster Rotary Centre is an addition to Morgan Firestone Arena and includes a full size fitness centre, workout complex and meeting rooms offering 10000 square feet of weights, cardio, group exercise and daycare. The complex is surrounded by the Robert E. Wade Park,[25] which includes four baseball diamonds and five soccer fields. A 10.1 million dollar addition of a second ice rink to Morgan Firestone Arena is meant to be completed by March 2011.

The Ancaster Little League Park is located on Jerseyville Road in Spring Valley. It is a park comprising three baseball diamonds nestled on the edge of the Dundas Valley Conservation Area. As recently as 2010 Ancaster hosted the Canadian Little League Championships and Little League Park was the main venue. In 1970 Ancaster hosted a so called 'World T-ball' tournament. The local Ancaster team won the event. There are three diamonds in Little League Park, known locally as T-Ball, Minor and Major. Prior to hosting the Canadian Little League Championships the Major diamond underwent a major reconstruction and with help from the City, Province, and Federal Government the diamond was rebuilt with the addition of proper drainage, professional style clay base paths and warning track, a new PA system as well as the construction of a new clubhouse (as of the date of this edit the clubhouse is still incomplete).

Other recreational centres include:

  • Morgan Firestone Arena
  • Ancaster Rotary Centre
  • Ancaster Tennis Club
  • Ancaster Lions outdoor pool
  • Ancaster Little League Ball Park
  • Ancaster Aquatic Centre

Nature[edit]

The Hamilton Conservation Authority (sometimes in conjunction with the City of Hamilton) operates several sites in Ancaster. Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum showcases local history (including the area's participation in the Underground Railway), fine arts, gardens and walking paths.

The Bruce Trail snakes through Ancaster as it links Queenston with Tobermory. The walking path goes through part of the Dundas Valley Conservation Area and crosses the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail.

Annual events[edit]

  • Ancaster Community Food Drive (February)
  • Paris To Ancaster Bicycle Race (April)
  • Lobsterfest (May)
  • Ancaster Heritage Days (June)
  • Ancaster Old Mill Road Race (June)
  • Festival of Friends (August)
  • Ancaster Fair (September)
  • Ancaster Christmas Tree Lighting (December)

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Short History of Ontario, Dr. Ed Whitcomb, Natural Resources Canada, 2007
  2. ^ http://www.kingstonhistoricalsociety.ca/chronology.html
  3. ^ a b c d ANCASTER The Past, Present and Future, A Brief prepared by The Ancaster Township Historical Society 1972
  4. ^ Ancaster, A Glimpse into the Past, Ancaster Information Centre and Community Services. Andrew J.L. Barton, 1993
  5. ^ http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/upper-canada/#top
  6. ^ http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/upper-canada/
  7. ^ A History of the Canadian People, WM. Stewart Wallace, The Copp Clark Company, Limited, Toronto: 1930
  8. ^ The Incompleat Canadian, An Approach to Social History, G.R. Stevens, 1965
  9. ^ a b The Origin And Development Of The Road Network Of The Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 1770-1851. Andrew F. Burghardt McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
  10. ^ http://www.herontrips.com/Wilson.html
  11. ^ Ancaster, A Glimpse into the Past — Ancaster Information Centre and Community Services 1993, Andrew J.L. Barton
  12. ^ http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/rousseaux_st_john_john_baptist_5E.html
  13. ^ Ancaster's Heritage - A History of Ancaster Township - Published by the Ancaster Historical Society 1973 Page 13 - referenced from http://www.ourroots.ca/
  14. ^ Ancaster's Heritage - A History of Ancaster Township - Published by the Ancaster Historical Society 1973 Page 30 - referenced from http://www.ourroots.ca/
  15. ^ http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/rousseaux_st_john_john_baptist_5E.html
  16. ^ The province of Ontario gazetteer and directory. H. McEvoy Editor and Compiler, Toronto : Robertson & Cook, Publishers, 1869
  17. ^ Ancaster's Heritage - A History of Ancaster Township 1973 - Published by the Ancaster Historical Society Page 3 - referenced from http://www.ourroots.ca/
  18. ^ http://ourroots.ca/page.aspx?id=889391&qryID=4edd6fd5-f85b-4198-8475-ae7fe4071c39 Ancaster's Heritage Page 31 Ancaster Historical Society 1973
  19. ^ Pen and Pencil Sketches of Wentworth Landmarks, The Spectator Printing Company 1897
  20. ^ Pen and Pencil Sketches of Wentworth Landmarks, The Spectator Printing Company 1897 Alma Dick Lauder Page 10
  21. ^ Pen and Pencil Sketches of Wentworth Landmarks, The Spectator Printing Company 1897 Alma Dick Lauder Page 14-15
  22. ^ Ancaster, A Glimpse into the Past — Ancaster Information Centre and Community Services 1993, Andrew J.L. Barton
  23. ^ http://www.ghostwalks.com/disappearinghistory/dh_8_auchmar.html
  24. ^ Haunted Hamilton - Local Hauntings - The Hermitage, Ancaster, Ontario
  25. ^ Named after former mayor Bob Wade, "Bob Wade to be honoured in park re-naming". Ancaster News. 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  26. ^ "Dube jumps CHCH ship". Hamilton Spectator. April 20, 2009. 
  27. ^ Robert Dale Parker, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, accessed 11 Dec 2008

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°13′N 80°0′W / 43.217°N 80.000°W / 43.217; -80.000