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Unearthed on Adelaide


Just a few oil drips below idle cars in Toronto's prime parking spots lay the covered-up stories of some of Toronto's early beginnings. Before the poorly-designed Porsche dealership made tracks on Parliament, the grounds were home to Upper Canada's first parliament buildings, partially burned to the ground in the War of 1812 then buried under a car wash in later years. Under what will soon be a condo tower at the foot of Bathurst was the former industrial centre of York, marked by a massive wood pier, Queen's Wharf, which dates back to the late 1700's. Even the Don Jail unearthed remains under an adjacent parking lot just this week. Now, it's Bishop's Block on the butcher's block.

Bishop's Block, an entertainment complex with tavern, hotel and shops had originally been built up in the 1820's and continued to provide good cheer well into the 1970's. Seems the boarded up tavern beside the dig site on Simcoe will remain in part, if only its Georgian facade to remind us of what once was, but the only plans for the exacavation area is to build an underground parking garage for guests of the shiny Shangri-la hotel. Peeking through the chain link fence it's easy to identify the infrastructure that's been uncovered. In the the front of the lot a furnace room, tunnels, and the original floor, in the back, a stable area for horses.

It's exciting to see so clearly revealed what had been, a piece of Toronto's past exposed beside a pile of bricks and whisky bottles. So far, the diggers from Archaeological Services have come across over 80,000 artifacts including porcelain doll heads of which they were quite proud. The company intends to put the majority of its find in storage, until that one special day, when Torontonians build up enough pride in the city's history to create and support a museum to celebrate our often hidden past.


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