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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 s.

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. 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, in the census, a considerable increase from the census figure of 27, 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 in such typically suburban commercial developments as the Power Centre and residential developments such as the Meadowlands.

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 midth 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 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 American War of Independence. This would eventually lead to a series of defections, accusations and treasonous acts during the War of that precipitated the largest mass hangings in Canadian history, the so-called Bloody Assizes whose trial took place in Ancaster in When Upper Canada was invaded by the United States during the War of its occupants were primarily of American ancestry.

However, after the war the province would have a noticeably more British-centered influence. Thus even its relatively minor water resources were valuable because they were easily accessible. 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 , the 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.

By , 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.

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. 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. Simcoe was apparently inspired in the name choice by Peregrine Bertie , the 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven.

Curiously, the detailed whereabouts or activities of James Wilson after his departure are not well documented. There is evidence that Wilson was born before , had a wife and three children but his burial location is unknown. By building his hotel on Wilson Street, Rousseaux reversed the then trend of building exclusively on the Mohawk trail.

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 and they ultimately were destroyed by fire in However the mills brief 20 years of service had provided the initial catalyst for the economic and social development of Ancaster Township.

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.

By , native mail couriers had been established between Montreal and Detroit with Ancaster appointed as the branching point for Queenston. In , the Hatt brothers bought a majority of the village site from James Wilson and proceeded to subdivide it into streets and building lots. By the population of Ancaster had steadily risen to residents yet in just 7 years by its populace would more than double to 1, In that same year Robert Gourlay carefully documented that Ancaster had houses, 4 gristmills, 5 sawmills, 1 carding machine , 1 fulling mill , 5 doctors, 1 Episcopalian minister, and 1 Methodist meeting house.

By , the first post office was established. In , the Ancaster Union Church was built. A foundry making plough shears was established in by William Wiard. By , 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 Also in , the population of Ancaster would reach 2, In a group of Red Coated Soldiers appeared in the village to announce the Mackenzie and Papineau rebellions.

By Ancaster had 5 hotels. Richardson opened his practice in the village. Eyre Thuresson founded a threshing machine factory in , a stone mill in , another card mill upstream in and reorganized the Cane Knitting Factory in Wiard re-opened the McLaughlin foundry to make ploughs. This Egleston mill was the 4th Ancaster mill and the third to be rebuilt at this current location.

Again, at the same location, a second mill burnt down in as well as a third mill that was damaged by fire in The Barracks of still stand as a reminder of the War of By , Ancaster was a village in the Township of Ancaster County Wentworth with a population of Thuresson turned out card clothing.

The Ancaster Knitting Company employed over in the manufacture of knitted goods. A Egleston employed 20 in woolen and cloth mills. Additional examples of Victorian architecture are also located on Wilson Street, amongst them the Richardson residence, which was built in as a wedding present for Dr.

Henry Richardson and his new bride Sarah Egleston. Other similar structures includes St. The oldest building in Ancaster is the Tisdale house at Wilson Street, which was built c. In , John Heslop was murdered in his home on Mineral Springs Road, and the murder case remains unsolved to this day. After , affluent Hamilton industrialists began purchasing farm land close to Ancaster village for building estates.

By , 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.

Soon nearby Dundas and a small farm settlement close to the lakefront that by 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: Ancaster had been the leading candidate in to be the county town and a petition had been signed with signatures to further strengthen that proposal.

However, the War of had interrupted this original selection process, and by the promising village of Hamilton was chosen instead even though Ancaster at that time was still the most influential village in Western Upper Canada. Ancaster would not have access to a modern transportation system until the Brantford and Hamilton Electric Railway intersected Ancaster Village in thus making fresh milk and other perishable foods, general supplies and mail easily deliverable on a daily basis for the first time.

The evidence for this radial train is still easily visible in Ancaster village by a well maintained gravel path behind St. 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 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 s.

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 s.

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. 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.

The Ancaster Fair has been an annual agricultural and social event since except for 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 it moved to Wilson and Cameron Drive driving park where it remained until its centennial year in when it moved to Garner Road.

In , an Ancaster Town Council vote reversed a long-standing policy that would finally allow Ancaster restaurants to apply for liquor licenses. Again according to Dick-Lauder writing in , "Ancaster saw plenty of life during the rebellion of , 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".

This historic house was once the property of Reverend George Sheed in Since then the house had changed ownership many times before burning to the ground in 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.

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.

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 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. 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 Today, it is no longer classified as a vocational school; its official name is Ancaster High School.

Public elementary schools in Ancaster include Fessenden, Rousseau, and C. 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. Postsecondary education is only available at Redeemer University College , a Christian institution closely associated with the Christian Reformed Church.

It was incorporated in and began classes in Hamilton two years later. It built a campus in Ancaster in where it had its first graduating class.

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