One of the most well-known landmarks in the Dundas Valley is the Hermitage. This ruin dates back to before 1855 and has a very interesting history. According to the historical plaque at the ruins, stones used in construction were quarried from local sites, the red bricks from the Dundas Valley and the limestone sills from the Credit River Valley. The Hermitage had several owners before it was acquired by George Gordon Leith in 1855.
After George’s death in 1901 his daughter Alma Dick-Lauder bought the estate from the rest of the family and lived there until 1934 when a fire broke out during a party and burned the house down. Even after this fire Alma continued to live on the site, building a modest home within the ruins where she lived until her death in 1942.
A popular destination for hikers visiting the valley, the site had fallen into disrepair over recent years and eventually required structural bracing to the walls and fencing off of the area due to safety concerns. There was even talk of taking down the walls and reducing them to the height of about a metre. It would have been sad to see this structure removed but with the risk of further deterioration, something had to happen.
Fortunately, the Hamilton Conservation Authority along with local government and private donors came up with an ambitious plan to preserve the 160 year old structure.
You should see it now! Reinforced with internal steel supports, the walls are going back up. To keep it as authentic as possible, every single stone was numbered and catalogued to ensure that when rebuilt, it would resemble the original structure as closely as possible.
Fenced off during the construction process, the progress is interesting to see. The stone work around the former main entrance door and windows is beautiful and reconstruction work is continuing up to the second floor. The project is slated for completion in the summer of 2016. If in the area, check it out.
The Hermitage can be found while hiking from the Dundas Valley Trail Centre and is located on the Main Loop. That loop is about 3.5 km and is moderately easy to walk.