Various land reclamation projects have dramatically altered Toronto's shoreline over several generations, burying much of our waterfront's history in the process. As redevelopment reshapes this reclaimed land, workers occasionally uncover relics of our past while digging down into what was once our lakefront. Discoveries like the historic Tinning's Wharf at the Ten York site, a circa 1850-1890 ship at the Rogers Centre, the circa 1904-1021 Commodore Jarvis at the Air Canada Centre, and a late nineteenth-century harbour scow at Block 33. These discoveries were among the factors leading the City to adopt planning policies that mandate large development projects to undergo an archaeological assessment prior to construction.

Earlier this year, archaeological and cultural heritage firm ASI's dig at the site of Concord Adex's Forward and Newton projects in Concord CityPlace revealed Queens Wharf, a feature that once jutted out into Toronto Harbour. Yesterday, Concord Adex announced another discovery in the pit for Newton and Forward; the remains of a schooner which would date as far back as the 1830s. Only the keel—the lowermost portions of the stern and bow—and a limited section of the bottom of the hull on the port side are still intact.

Newton, Forward, Concord Adex, CityPlace, Toronto, archaeology, dig, excavationSchooner uncovered at Newton/Forward dig site, image courtesy of Concord Adex

"Based on what we have seen so far, this seems to be a vestige of one of the earliest vessels found in Toronto," ASI senior archaeologist and project manager David Robertson stated. "We plan to undertake an extensive study to find out everything we can about the vessel. At this time, however, we're not confident it will be possible to preserve the remains."

3D scanning technologies are being employed to investigate, and produce a digital record of the vessel, which lays in ruins with salvage unlikely.

Newton, Forward, Concord Adex, CityPlace, Toronto, archaeology, dig, excavationSchooner uncovered at Newton/Forward dig site, image courtesy of Concord Adex

Michael Hopkins, Concord Adex Director of Construction, commented, "We are truly proud to be a part of such a tremendous discovery. Findings such as this mark an important juncture of history and innovation, where our past meets our future. Concord Adex, which has always prided itself in its pursuit of innovation, is deeply humbled to find an example of what was once groundbreaking technology on the site of our next project."

This was not the first major discovery uncovered during a Toronto excavation, and no doubt it will not be the last. What other historical relics could be buried below our streets?