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Founded in 1791 the town of Ancaster was first known as Wilson’s Mills after James Wilson, who, with the financial help of his affluent partner Richard Beasley, opened a gristmill and sawmill near the city of Hamilton. The following year Ancaster was formally established. In order to attract workers to the mills Wilson built the commercial framework of a small community. On land that had been a remote forest with a fast running stream sprang dwellings for the mill’s workers, a tavern for them to enjoy the hours after their long days, a general store, and a blacksmith’s; all within walking distance of the mills. The community started to thrive. The long main street that winds through the town still bears the name of its founder: Wilson Street.
In 1794 the mills were sold to Jean Baptiste Rousseaux and grew into an even larger pioneer settlement, becoming an important trading outlet by 1800.
In 1805 a large area of land in Ancaster was subdivided and the community grew extensively around water-powered industries through to the end of the nineteenth century.
Today Ancaster retains the old world charm of a bygone era with its abundance of beautiful stone buildings, quaint small town charm and community spirit.