Last month's discovery of a 19th century schooner at the excavation site for Forward and Newton condos in Concord CityPlace received plenty of media coverage. Dating back as far as the 1830s, the vessel is believed to be the oldest ever discovered in Toronto. When unearthed in May, the incomplete vessel was in rough shape, and only the ship's keel, portions of the stern and bow and a section of the bottom of the hull were intact. While initial reports painted recovery of the vessel as unlikely if not impossible, the archaeologists at Archaeological Services Inc. (ASI) now believe that recovery is indeed possible, though still risky. 

Concord CityPlace, Newton, Forward, Fort York, schoonerSchooner uncovered at Newton/Forward dig site, image courtesy of Concord Adex

"ASI is very pleased that Concord Adex and Fort York have reached an agreement and have provided the resources necessary to save this important piece of Toronto's history," said Robertson. "Of course, we want to preserve everything we find, but sometimes it's just not feasible. So we're very excited and proud of this outcome."

Tomorrow, June 4th, at 9:30 AM, crews will attempt to remove the vessel from the position it has rested in for generations, and then carefully move the remains of the ship to its new home at the nearby Fort York National Historic Site, where the remains will be put on display for the public.

Similar artifacts have been discovered in other Downtown developments, including a circa 1850-1890 vessel at the Rogers Centre, the circa 1904-1921 Commodore Jarvis at the Air Canada Centre, and a late nineteenth-century harbour scow at Block 33. In each of these instances, preservation was not a feasible option, meaning tomorrow's delicate operation will mark the first ever attempt at moving historic ship remains in Toronto's history. The complex task will involve the cooperation of Concord Adex, along with ASI, Ellis Don and the City of Toronto’s Museum and Heritage Services.

Concord CityPlace, Newton, Forward, Fort York, schoonerNewton/Forward site (red) and Fort York (purple), image retrieved from Apple Maps

“Concord Adex is pleased to play a defining role in recovering a forgotten part of Toronto’s history,” said Michael Hopkins, Director of Construction at Concord Adex. “Vibrant and sustainable communities are grounded in an appreciation of history, and we are honoured to be at the intersection of our city’s past and future.”

We will see tomorrow where on the grounds of Fort York the schooner will come to rest, and will return with a report on the move. If you want to know more about the Fort York site, you can read about it in our dataBase file for the project and get in on the discussion in the associated Forum thread. You can also leave a comment in the space provided on this page.