The Hermitage had several owners before it was acquired by George Gordon Browne Leith in 1855.
Mr. Leith, a wealthy Irish-born Scottish immigrant, settled his family on the land because of it's proximity to the priveleges of the British upper class establishment in the Hamilton area. It was also a fitting location because it's rolling hills and gentle streams brought back emotional memories of the Scottish landscape. He built a large stone house with limestone quarried from the property. The Leith's used the Hermitage as a summer residence and spent the winters in either Hamilton or Scotland.
Eleanor Alma Dick-Lauder, the only one of the five Leith children to be born in Canada, was devoted to her family's home. Even after it's destruction by fire in 1934, she built a modest house within it's ruins and lived there alone until her death in 1942. The ruins of the Hermitage, found on the Headwaters Trail, are all that remain of the graceful splendour of the Leith estate.
The gatehouse museum, part of the original estate, housed the gatekeeper and his family. It now exhibits artifacts excavated from the ruins which tell the story of the Leith family.
From the historical plaque on-site
There were 5 owners of The Hermitage my fave story was about the 3rd owner Otto Ives. this is from hamilton paranormal:
I've visited this site a few times and every time i go i see obs and all kinds of weird stuff! its a great place to see!
A Colonel Otto Ives ( 1804-1835) was the third land owner. He was an Englishman who had fought with the Greeks for the war of Indendence. He had met the daughter ( Magdalen) of a Governor of an Aegean island. The two of them fell in love and eloped to Ancaster in the spring of 1833. They had brought her niece with them to act as a companion for the bride to be. It was here that Otto Ives purchased the Hermitage from the heirs of Rev. George Sheed.
The love story:
Otto Ives had hired a scottish coachman by the name of Mr. William Black. Mr. Black was also a tutor in the English language. Mr. Ives had the coachman teach his wife's niece to speak and write the language. It did not take too long for the coachman and the niece to fall in love. So Mr. William Black went to Otto Ives and asked for his wife's niece's hand in marriage. Mr. Otto Ives was very upset by the thought of the coachman and niece to wed. He rejected the proposal made by Mr. Black. The next morning Mr. Ives and his wife (Magdalen) were to go out for the day, yet the coachman was not at the front door with the carriage as planned. Mr. Ives went out to the barn to see why the coachman did not bring the coach around. It was there that Otto Ives made the discovery of seeing Mr. William Black's body dangling from the rafters in the barn around the first Hermitage.