Tuesday, April 19, 2011

19-century railway relics discovered in Toronto

An archaeological dig in Toronto has turned up relics from city's 19th century railway boom near the shores of Lake Ontario.

And although building plans, which include a condominium project in the Library District adjacent to the Bathurst Street bridge, are still on track, the future of the artifacts is still up in the air.

Among the findings is a massive cruciform-shaped engine-house complex, which was the starting point of the railway's westbound ribbon of track, constructed by the Grand Trunk Railway in the 1850s.

The area of interest, which is south of Front Street, is close to where a library would be built. But construction would also see a condominium tower, social housing and a park built.

Railway historian Derek Boles, who believes the relics should be saved, told the Globe and Mail that the railways turned Toronto into a manufacturing hub and that the artifacts are "important for understanding Toronto's history."

The dig was originally organized to determine what would need to happen before construction of the buildings began.

Supervisor of archaeology at the City of Toronto, Susan Hughes, said some intact portions of the engine house include 2.5-metre-high foundation walls, consisting of 15 layers of stone, and some timbers that supported the floors.

She said everyone involved believes in some kind "interpretation and commemoration" of the site, but exactly how that will occur has not yet been decided on.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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