Was it the doomed coachman? Ghost tour guide reveals eerie experience in Hamilton

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Published October 31, 2023 at 6:31 pm

Ancaster Hermitage Ruins Hamilton Ghost Walks ghosts Halloween
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Four days before Halloween, a former paranormal investigator led a tour group through the purportedly haunted Hermitage Ruins in Ancaster, not knowing that some mysterious things would happen later.

The 8:30 tour was his second that night, Daniel Cumerlato, the head tour guide for Ghost Walks in Hamilton and Niagara-on-the-Lake,  recounted to inthehammer.com today (Oct. 31).

The group listened eagerly as he told a tragic and creepy tale about the site during an abnormally warm and windy October night. There was a full moon.

For many years, this property in the Dundas Valley was part of an estate known as “The Hermitage.” The Hamilton Conservation Authority bought 120 acres of the land in 1972 from a man named Charles Hill. George Gordon Browne Leith, who purchased the property in 1855, built the ruins of the stone house and outbuildings. Leith and his wife lived there for many years, the conservation authority said. Later on, their daughter Alma Dick-Lauder became its resident.

Reverend George Sheed, the first resident Presbyterian minister in Ancaster, built a house in 1830 and a frame home east of the ruins near the stream, according to the conservation authority. Apples were stored in this building, which had an orchard, during the time Leith lived there. 

The property’s story took a dark turn. In 1833, an Englishman named Otto Ives bought the land. He and his Greek wife had arrived in Canada from Greece along with their niece. The legend is that Ives’s coachman, William Black, fell in love with the niece. When he asked Ives for permission to marry her, he refused. The reason behind it was not given. Black was found hanging from the stable rafters the following morning. Since it was a suicide, he could not be buried in a churchyard, the conservation authority said. Black was buried in the area where Lover’s Lane joins Sulphur Springs Road. Some say that on moonlit nights, the heartbroken coachman can be heard crying for his lost love.

Ancaster Hermitage ruins ghost walk ghosts Halloween

COURTESY OF GHOST WALKS

‘I told the group about my anxiety,’ Ghost Walks tour guide says

Cumerlato, the head tour guide, said he and his group arrived at the ruins on Oct. 27 at around 8:45 p.m. Then, they made it to the old laundry house at around 9:15 p.m.  

He said he uses the laundry house to tell the famous legend of Ancaster mainly because it fits the dimensions of the old carriage house, which no longer exists. The coachman was believed to have been found dead inside the carriage house. 

“At the beginning of the stop, I told the group about my anxiety,” he said in an email to inthehammer.com. “Being a long-time tour guide, normally it’s easy to bring down my nerves. But in this moment, it was impossible.  Only rising tension as I pushed through the story.” 

As he told the tour group about the coachman’s death, Cumerlato said “a hard gust of wind was heard in the trees before reaching the group.”

He said it was loud and stronger than previous ones. “I stopped talking until it was done,” he continued.

Then, as he started to tell the story again, he heard a crash behind him. He spun around to see an apple lying beside his lantern. 

The apple mysteriously fell from the woods behind the old laundry house, but he observed there was no path and all tour members were present.  

He said there was “no way anyone could sneak back without being seen or heard.”   

As the group “freaked out,” he said he stopped to look at the apple. 

“My first thought was the wind blew it from an apple tree, and just by chance it had hit the lantern perfectly,” he said.  “However, the apple wasn’t whole. Almost as if half eaten by an animal. Seems impossible to me a half-eaten apple could remain on a tree branch. Makes me think it was picked up and thrown.”

 He said he finished the story and led the group out of the property. 

“Later that night, a young girl from the tour commented on feeling the same anxiety,” he observed.

She told him she saw a figure walking beside her in the woods.

“This was just before the story of another guest seeing … a figure walking beside her in the exact same spot,” he added.

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