We had a few people asking us about the "Old Mill Restaurant" in Ancaster which was formerly known as "The Union Mill" during the War of 1812.
Most mills in the area were targets for American destruction as they were needed to supply the British/Canadian/Native troops with flour but this Mill being far enough removed from the battlefields was spared destruction and was rebuilt in 1863 and now houses this wonderful restaurant.
In 1814, prisoners for the Ancaster Assizes were kept here as it was the only place where a certain amount of security could be ensured. Under the main floor, a stone chamber was home to those arrested for Treason. Fifteen men housed in this place were condemned to death although seven had the death penalty commuted, most of them eventually succumbed to disease and other affects of prison life in the early nineteenth century.
The trials were rushed through with John Beverly Robinson acting as attorney general in the absence of the designated attorney general, D'arcy Boulton (who was rotting in a French jail as he was intercepted en route to Canada by Napoleon's navy,) and also in the absence of the next in line to the position, John Macdonell (who was General Brock's aide and suffered the same fate as Brock at Queenston Heights and shot dead while attempting to take the guns on the hill after the failed attempt by Brock,).
Robinson was told to rush as the trials would "overawe the spirit of disaffection in the province" according to Gordon Drummond, Lieutenant General who was the chief administrator of the province and of the military. In Drummond's eyes, once the population heard that men were convicted of treason and then heard the "by the book" punishment announced as their sentence, (almost never carried out to the letter,) there would be little chance of someone thinking of being willing to publicly assist the Americans in their attempt to conquer Canada.
The sentence? To be hanged, drawn and quartered. Not a pleasant prospect but the eight convicted traitors were mercifully(?) only hanged.
One would assume that the possibility of being hung, but not until dead and then being wrenched and cut apart would stiffen anybody!
It should be pointed out that there is a better than average possibility that some of the men held and convicted were innocent and just the victim of hearsay from neighbors and other petty jealousies. Some were simply disaffected which to some was just as bad as out and out "traitorism".
Do some (or one,) of these men who met their fate still linger around their temporary prison? It's been rumoured but we are looking for exact instances or reports of phenomena. Sadly, we've only had messages saying things like "The Old Mill is haunted" and "I have a friend who said that she/he experienced something weird at the Old Mill" but nothing terribly exact.