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Ernie Hollands Life story
by Sheila Hollands
 Ernie Hollands was born in 1930 in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada). He lived in poverty without love and guidance. He learnt to steal items for his mother at 8 years of age. Soon he was stealing food to help feed the growing family. By age 9 he was stealing guns and ammunition. At age 12 he was placed in a reform school. He escaped many times just to be returned. His last escape took him to New York City. He was deported to Halifax and he went back to the reform school but they didn’t want him. He went to where his family lived but his father now on his own was struggling to feed 4 children, and could not take him in. He headed out West, and by age 16 was involved in B&E’s(break & entering) and found a gun which was a bonus. This started his prison career.

Ernie learnt different skills while in prison. He soon graduated to bank robberies, in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.  He escaped from prison/jail five times. He was convicted of an attempted murder of a police officer. Ernie would serve a total of 25 years of combined sentences in both Canadian and U.S. prisons.

He was labelled a “habitual criminal”.  After deportation in 1973 Ernie was sentenced to Millhaven Institution.

 Okalla Prison BC 17 years of age


Ernie in 1951 in Collin’s Bay Prison Ontario



Ernie in 1955 at Dorchester Prison New Brunswick


It seemed that there was no hope for a man like Ernie, but things were about to change.

While in Millhaven, Ernie started a hobby of making fish flies.  A sport magazine wrote an article about him titled “Time flies Tying Flies”.  Ernie started a mail order business with sport stores in the community.

Grant Bailey from a Sport Store in Pembroke offered to buy some flies.  Over the next 18 months Grant visited Ernie each month sharing God’s love and how his life could change by faith in Jesus Christ. Ernie started to check this out in the Bible.  Finally on March 12, 1975 Ernie prayed to God asking Jesus into his life.  That day God visited him in his cell, wipe his slate clean, and gave a brand new life.  He was radically transformed through this powerful encounter.  He was Caught on His Own Hook! 

Over the next 13 months his faith grew stronger through Bible reading and chapel. April 1976 Ernie was miraculously released before his appointed time and Grant was there to take him “home”.


Photo of  Bailey Family -                               Tract                                       Doris & Ernie – Halifax Corr. Centre       



We later learnt that Doris – a Christian teller in the bank in Lancaster, New Brunswick, that Ernie robbed in 1952 continued to pray for that robber.  She asked God to send a person who would take a special interest in Ernie, and give him a Bible, and that Jesus would set him free from crime.  God answered those prayers. 

They met again - this time Ernie was speaking in the chapel and Doris was a chapel volunteer.



 Ernie got his first bedroom – in the basement of the Bailey home.  He became active in the local church, and went to work at Bailey’s Sport Store in Pembroke, where his favorite job was cashier. 

Ernie remembered his troubled childhood, and so he began working with troubled teens on the streets of Pembroke.  Soon he was being invited to speaking in schools, meetings, churches, and prisons everywhere, telling people about the love of God that had transformed his life completely.

Now the newspaper headlines had changed from Crime to Christ.

        Newspaper clippings

God brought Ernie to Brockville in June 1977 to speak at the Full Gospel Business Men’s Breakfast.

Sheila had relocated in Brockville since the death of her husband with her three small children.

They had met previously at the Bailey’s Sport Store and when Ernie had spoken at Churches  in the Ottawa Valley.  

They met again in July at Lakeshore Camp in Cobourg, Ontario – when Ernie spoke in the Adult Chapel and where Sheila was working with the Children’s Chapel.

God prepared Sheila through a personal encounter enabling her to accept Ernie – even with his history of 25 years in prison.    


Ernie had a plan of having a mobile unit – making fish flies after release from prison        

God had a plan – “Follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men” 

Throughout the years Erne spoke to hundreds of thousands of people across Canada, and in  the United States of America, and many countries of the world.

Every where he went he testified that Jesus Christ has the power to change lives.

If God can change the life of a convict named Ernie Hollands, He can change yours!


To administrate a busy schedule such as the above – God had put together a husband and wife team.

Sheila was at home raising their ready-made family – an answer to Ernie’s prayer.

He was 46 years old – and had been praying for a ready-made family.

Then God blessed them with a special little bundle of “Joy” in 1980.


Sheila cared for Ernie’s Speaking Engagement Schedule, and travel arrangements, flights, etc.

She responded to general and prison correspondence.

They were privileged to travel in the summer months as a family in a small motor home - gift from Caring Christians from Alberta.

 Ernie shared his story through Audio Cassette Tapes from 1976-1982.


Thousand and thousands were distributed as spoke across Canada, USA, and other countries.

How God had changed Ernie caught the attention of the young children to even the seniors who would pray the prayer of salvation and be prepared to spend eternity with their Saviour.   Now - available on C.D.’s and  DVD's.  


HOOKED – Ernie’s Life Story was published in 1982 -  It was God’s Timing!  “Hooked”  launched Hebron Ministries to a New Dimension      


Ernie understood the Needs of Inmates on Release from Prison - HEBRON FARM BECAME A REALITY

(Hebron – is a city of refuge in the Old Testament where offenders could find safety from their accusers.)

 Hebron Farm would be a place of refuge as inmates re-entered society.

Hebron Farm   Peterborough  HEBRON FARM PETERBOUGH 

1982 to 1986                                                                                              


Hebron Farm Ailsa Craig 1986 to 1991

    HEBRON FARM LONDON                              

 Lives were Transformed!

DIVINE DIRECTION                                                                                                                     

Due to Number of Factors it became necessary to close the farm in 1991.

1991 was also the year that the Second Hebron Ministries book was published                                 


This contains six Canadian former  inmates life stories - that were changed as a result of /or influenced by Ernie’s ministry 



Distribution in Quebec, Canada and to France, and other French speaking countries.

1995  HOOKED in CHINESE was published in California


Ernie continued to share his story – to the last moment.

His final appointment was Scarborough, Ontario – 22 October 1996!

Sheila & Directors – Ernie Hollands Hebron Ministries Inc. decided to wait for God’s Direction for the future.          

November 1996 a request came from London, England.  Could they publish Prison Chains Broken in Braille?

A ‘lifer’ in prison on the Isle of Wight, which is just south of England, had written some years earlier for permission to transcribed Prison Chains Broken.  Permission was granted and completed and sent it to Compass in London, England. 

God was right on time  - we had our answer!  HEBRON MINISTRIES CONTINUES…….                       

Compass Braille Produced Prison Chains Broken – Volumes 1 & 2

They were distributed locally & internationally – mainly to India – as ¼ of world’s blind live there – 12 million. 

God who knows the beginning and the end – had instituted His Plan

If we could have continued with Hebron Farm it would have be closed at Ernie’s death,

 But now - Ernie’s and other life stories would continue to bring hope and changed lives to its readers through faith in Christ.

1998 HOOKED in Spanish is published.

Distributed to USA Prisons and countries of Central and South America.

God has His Timetable for All Nations and language groups – English, French, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish.

We never sought out one of these project – God brought them to Hebron Ministries – Praise God!


Additional books have been released through the years since Ernie's death. 

See Sheila's story for continuation of this ministry.