Ancaster is the most westerly point of the "Golden Horseshoe" and is a bedroom community for those who work in downtown Hamilton as well as in Brantford, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga or even Toronto. The community, which largely lies atop the Niagara Escarpment, had a population of 28,000 prior to annexation into Hamilton in 2000.
Ancaster was surveyed as Ancaster Township in the 1790s, and in 1851 became part of Wentworth County, and was one of the three original potential capitals of Upper Canada based on being close to water and with a strong defensible position, but in the ended was considered too close to the American border. Its pioneer settlers deforested the land and planted agricultural crops.
For a century it was an unimposing gristmill hamlet, and the restored Ancaster Old Mill today serves as restaurant and banquet hall. The Barracks of 1812 still stand on Wilson Street as a reminder of the war of 1812 between the British and Americans. Development in Old Ancaster, the historic village core, has been tightly controlled. There are ghost tours run throughout the summer with guides telling haunted stories of the area.
The community is served by 7 elementary schools, one high school, and two public libraries. Post-secondary education is only available at Redeemer University College, a Christian institution closely associated with the Christian Reformed Church. Hamilton's McMaster University is about 5 kilometres away.
Ancaster's shopping is clustered along Wilson Street with big box stores clustered at the Meadowlands Power Centre.
Ancaster has lots of indoor and outdoor recreation. On it west side, the Escarpment and the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, on its east side the Iroquois Heights Conservation Area, both connected by the famous Bruce Trail (from Queenston with Tobermory), in the middle, the Hamilton Golf & Country Club and on the eastern edge the Ancaster Fairgrounds as well as a Silver City theatre in the Meadowlands Power Centre. For those seeking insights into history, there's the Fieldcote Museum.