Griffin HouseThe Griffin House, built circa 1827, stands on 50 acres of land situated on concession 1, lot 40 in Ancaster. The house and property was purchased by Enerals Griffin, an African American immigrant, in 1834 and remained in the Griffin family until 1988 when it was acquired by the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority (HCA). The HCA understood the significance of the house in local history and began investigating the homestead. Beneath layers of modern siding the original clapboard exterior was uncovered and restored so that the house stands as the farm house of Enerals Griffin’s time today. Archaeologists also uncovered over 3000 artifacts including ceramics, metal and glass. During the restoration a lithograph of Eastman Johnson’s 1859 “Negro Life in the South” was found beneath layers of newspaper, linking the house and the Griffin family to a Black Heritage.

Enerals Griffin was born around 1792 in Virginia. This information, in addition to oral history accounts, suggests that Enerals was almost certainly born a slave. Enerals and his wife, Priscilla, crossed the border to Upper Canada in 1829 after living for some time in Ohio. After having immigrated to Upper Canada, the Griffin’s purchased their 50 acre property in Ancaster for £125. In Ancaster Enerals became a successful farmer and established himself as a leader in the community when he played a role in organizing the 1840 Black Convention for community leaders of Southern Ontario.

The Griffin House stands today as a testament to the bravery and determination of African American men and women who settled in Upper Canada and Enerals’ story reflects the diverse and complex nature of these experiences. The Griffin House began its openings to the public as a joint project between the Hamilton Conservation Authority and Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum. It was designated a National Historical Site in 2008 and has been included among the sites that make up the Central Ontario Network for Black History. As part of a land swap in 2018, the Hamilton Conservation Authority transferred ownership of the Griffin House and some surrounding land to the City of Hamilton who now solely administer and maintain the site through Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum.

Public visitation and interpretation, including black-history-related programs, are offered by Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum (905-648-8144).

The Griffin House is located at 733 Mineral Springs Road. For more information, visit the City of Hamilton website and the Heritage Trust website.