It seems that nearly every time a new building goes under construction in the area south of the Gardiner Expressway, another reminder of Lake Ontario's former size pops up. The excavation for Tridel's condominium tower at Ten York is proving no different, as the wooden crib for the end of a wharf which once stood at the base of York Street has been uncovered.

Tinning's Wharf has been uncovered at Tridel's Ten York condos, TorontoThe end of Tinning's Wharf seems to have been uncovered at the Ten York dig, image by Jack Landau

The crib would be for one of two wharves which stood by the old end of York Street. While Lake Ontario's waves originally lapped up against the shore just south of Front Street, the water was too shallow to bring boats close to land here. Railways also needed land on the southern edge of the growing city to build stations and yards to connect the waterborne transportation with the iron horse.

Tinning's Wharf was one of several which ran into Toronto Harbour from an already partially filled-in lake in the latter part of the 19th century. The process of extending land south had already moved the shoreline south at least once before Tinning's Wharf was built to handle boats with deeper drafts. In the 1870s, steamers ran across the lake to Niagara or Lewiston from Tinning's Wharf, taking passengers from Toronto or from the Canada Southern Railway station for day outings. Those steamers died out though once railways ran all the way around the lake to Niagara, while the port continued to expand south to cope with the increasing larger ships used to transport goods back and forth across the Great Lakes and on to Montreal.

Just to the west of Tinning's Wharf stood a wharf for the Argonaut Rowing Club, then called the Argonaut Boat Club according to maps of the time. The club was established in 1872 and built a couple of wharves/clubhouses on the site as they expanded. In 1921 the club relocated to a site at the foot of Dowling Avenue just east of the Boulevard Club when the Toronto Harbour docks were being rebuilt again.

That construction, based on a 1912 plan to improve the harbour in a coordinated way, eventually moved the shoreline south to pretty much where it is today by 1933, surrounding and burying Tinning's Wharf, the Argonaut Boat Club wharf, and many more under acres and acres of new port land.

Tinning's Wharf hidden from webcam at Tridel's Ten York condos, TorontoAn extremely fish-eyed view of the Ten York excavation by the Tridel webcam

The historic crib is harder to identify from the webcam set up by Tridel to allow views of the construction, but that's it in the sun near the right side of the image above, with a view of the recovered wooden beams now stacked in the shadowed area to its side.

Ten York Condos, designed by Wallman Architects for Tridel, TorontoTen York Condos, designed by Wallman Architects, image courtesy of Tridel

Ten York is being built in a wedge-shaped parcel of land currently framed by the Gardiner Expressway on the north side and the Yonge-York-Bay eastbound off-ramps on the south side. The off-ramps will be coming down in the next couple of years to be replaced by a new off-ramp at Simcoe Street, making for a much more inviting pedestrian realm in the revitalizing area in the future. Ten York will rise to a total of 65 storeys above a wedge-shaped podium.

Want to know more about Ten York? There is a lot more information and many renderings in our dataBase file for the project, linked below. Want to get in on the discussion? Choose one of the associated Forum thread links, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.