Guelph, Ont., October, 27, 2016—Tomorrow, Stantec will start an archeological assessment of the site underneath Baker Street where City workers discovered bone fragments earlier this month. The assessment will determine the presence or absence of further unmarked grave shafts or human remains and any other cultural material at the site. Stantec expects to be on site for about a week.
A licensed archeologist will excavate the area of the initial discovery by hand. All soil will be screened through fine cloth to recover any cultural material or human remains. The bone fragments that were removed from the site by the forensics unit will also be assessed.
Once the City has a report from the archaeological assessment, it will declare the nature of the site. If the site is declared a burial ground, the City will follow appropriate protocols to re-inter the remains, most likely at Woodlawn Memorial Park where other remains found in the Baker Street area have been laid to rest.
The demolition of the attendant booths in the City-owned parking lot on Baker Street will resume once the archeological work is complete, and the site is cleared by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
The City unearthed bone fragments from underneath Baker Street while turning off water to the Baker Street parking attendant booths on October 17. The water shut off for the booths is located beneath the road in a section of old tunnel that has been closed off on either side of the road. The fragments were found when staff went into the tunnel to turn the water off.
The City has found human remains on two separate occasions in this area. The area served as an all-faith, public burying ground for Guelph from 1827 to 1853 when the Town of Guelph passed a new bylaw banning human burials within town limits. Records indicate that known graves were moved from the public burying ground to Woodlawn Memorial Park in later years.
In 2005, the City unearthed the remains of one male, one female, nine infants, and 36 incomplete remains. These were removed shortly following their discovery with the permission of the Registrar of the Cemeteries Regulation Unit of the Ministry of Government Services (now the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services). The remains were reinterred at Woodlawn Memorial Park in 2008.
In 2010, a sink hole on Baker Street revealed the remains of an infant. These remains were also reinterred at Woodlawn Memorial Park.
To help ensure any and all human remains not be subjected to public display, and that they be treated with respect and dignity, the City will not be taking or sharing photographs of any remains found. The City requests that media and the public cooperate in this matter as well.
For more information
Allister McIlveen, Manager of Transportation Services
Engineering and Capital Infrastructure Services
519-822-1260 extension 2275