The Coach & Lantern

AUGUST 20th, 2017


[Lana] Ancaster is the third oldest community in Ontario after Kingston and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Both of the other places we have visited before and experienced some of their reportedly haunted locations (see our article Haunted Niagara-on-the-Lake: A Guided Tour and we will be posting an article on Kingston's Fort Henry). So at the beginning of June this year, when the Bonus Mommy asked us if we could give her a ride to a wedding in the area, we didn't hesitate at all (not that we would have anyways... we love that lady).

[John] If you don’t remember, the Bonus Mommy is Ma Lilies’ best friend from childhood and we have adopted her as our “Bonus Mommy”.

[Lana] We knew we would likely be there for a while so we first sought out where we would have our supper. That was when we came across the Coach and Lantern pub. Housed in the 3rd oldest building in the village (originally built in the late 1700's and then re-built in 1823 after burning down in a fire), the pub stands in what used to be the location where traitors were sentenced during the War of 1812. According to their website, "the bloodiest sentence ever handed down to this day was here in this building."


[John] Yep. When we think “supper”, we think “bloody sentences for war criminals”.

[Lana] Well they do go hand-in-hand do they not?

This is where things get a bit confusing when it comes to the facts. This reference seems to be regarding the historical trials which became known as the Bloody Assizes. After the War of 1812 ended, suspicions were still high as it was easy to infiltrate across the border and in 1814, during these particular trials, 19 people were found guilty of treason and sentenced to be executed. However, history places these trials in the building across the street at the Union Hotel. Of course, we can forgive some for making the mistake seeing as the Coach and Lantern had changed its name to the Old Union Hotel in 1870. With this confusion, it is no wonder that it was also known at one time as the Traitor's Court.

The Rousseau House across the street was the true setting of the Bloody Assizes

The Rousseau House across the street was the true setting of the Bloody Assizes

Regardless of the true and accurate history, according to their own website, the old owners were afraid to stay in the building alone at any time because of unexplained phenomena. More recently, digital photos taken of guests have "exposed orbs". John and I don't put a lot of credence in orbs but this next bit of lore we did find interesting. A waitress encountered a gentleman with his back to her. When she returned with a menu, which was only a few feet away, the man had disappeared. Having seen where the menus are kept and the cramped quarters of the area, it would be quite the feat for someone to vanish if those were indeed the facts of the event. On a different occasion, a different man disappeared right before the eyes of a waitress. Coincidentally, later that same day, a man who hadn't been to the pub in two years asked the waitress if she had seen anything strange. Apparently, the customer had seen the same gentleman on his last visit. In fact, several guests recall seeing the same man who had disappeared. The pub has lost several dishwashers over the years due to the activity, and one ill-tempered cook who was scared off by loud footsteps often heard heading towards him.

Other encounters include sensitives picking up on an older man who was a worker, farmer, or caretaker, who died in a fire. This spirit has been haunting the location from at least as far back as the 1980's. They see him in a plaid shirt and he is said to look sad or rundown.

The details of this next paranormal run-in come courtesy of the Ghost Walks website. While a woman was feeding her grandson on the second floor, she heard a man whisper, "What a beautiful baby." She thought she was alone so she quickly spun around only to discover she was right... no one else was there with them.


So what did we see or feel while we were inside the old stone building? Well first of all, we thought we would go early and avoid any kind of dinner rush they may have. We parked in a nearby municipal lot around 3 p.m. and walked the short distance to the pub. It was a beautiful day but we were still surprised that the patio was completely filled to capacity at this time of day. Okay, so Saturdays bring out people in the summer in Ancaster, apparently. We squeezed our way through the masses to reach the front door and, while not as packed as outside, it was still quite busy. A smile crossed my face as my toe simultaneously began tapping as the happy reason for the crowd caressed my soul via my ear drums. Little did we know that every Saturday during the winter and spring (and this being the final performance until October) the Coach and Lantern holds a Blues Matinee from 2:30 until 4:00 p.m. With this being the last gig of the season for the regular band, The Coachmen, they had special guests Jesse O'Brien (a phenomenal pianist) and Harrison Kennedy (a Juno award winning blues singer). To say the live entertainment was amazing for those of us who love that particular brand of music, would be a huge understatement.

Our limited view of Harrison Kennedy and Jesse O'Brien (guests of the Coachmen)

Our limited view of Harrison Kennedy and Jesse O'Brien (guests of the Coachmen)

[John] At first, with the seating so limited and the music so loud, I asked Lana if we should have maybe gone somewhere else; we had been aiming for a quiet and quaint meal. However, the music was so good and I was enjoying watching Jesse O’Brien’s fingers glide across the keyboard so much that I really couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. It was the perfect place in that moment. My heart was smiling.

[Lana] In case you may have forgotten, John is the classically trained musician of Carbon Lilies so when she appreciates someone’s technique, I believe they must be good. As we ate (the food was also incredible) and enjoyed the music, we did our best to keep alert for any strange occurrences. While I personally didn't get anything, John did have a personal experience.

[John] We were seated in a corner against a little wall with no one sitting to one side and an empty table on our other side. While we were watching the band, I realized that I was feeling as though a man was sitting at the table next to us. I hadn’t noticed anyone approach the table so I figured someone must have been seated while I was looking down and eating. Not wanting to turn and obviously stare at whomever had been seated there, I let it go and continued watching the band. After another few minutes, it was really bothering me that I was so strongly feeling like a man was sitting right there but that I hadn’t noticed anyone approach our area. I finally turned and of course, no one was actually there. At first I didn’t think anything of it but then I remembered the history of the restaurant (being so enthralled by the entertainment, I honestly hadn’t been thinking about much else) and I asked Lana if he sensed anything. He didn’t, and so I wondered if it was maybe my imagination though it really didn’t feel like that. The sensation reminded me a lot of the experience I’d had years ago while studying Shiatsu Therapy (see A Ghosty Tale of John’s AKA John’s Twofer), when I saw someone walk in front of me and felt them go around and stand behind me.

The area John felt the presence. Do you sense anything from the picture?

The area John felt the presence. Do you sense anything from the picture?

[Lana] I wanted to ask our waitress about the paranormal happenings and if she had personally experienced anything but it was so busy that there was never an appropriate opportunity to ask. Perhaps if we come back another time it will be less busy and we will get our chance. At least we know the food and entertainment will be worth the trip.


[John] This really was such a perfect evening that lifted our souls and made our hearts dance. We are so grateful that the Bonus Mommy asked for our help and led us to this wonderful place. She had a great time at the wedding, by the way, and so we all enjoyed a fantastic day in Ancaster.