Archeological excavation of Baker and Wyndham street parking lots: November 16 update

Guelph, Ont., November 16, 2021 – The City and archaeological consultant, Archaeological Research Associates Ltd. (ARA) are excavating the Baker and Wyndham Street parking lots for the required archeological clearance of the Baker District redevelopment site.

Updates on the progress of the archeological excavation are provided every two weeks.

Progress since last update

To date, 63 grave shafts have been identified and 26 distinct discoveries of human remains (bone fragments) have been unearthed.

The City and ARA are following an established process for handling discoveries of human remains. including notification to appropriate agencies such as Guelph Police Services, partner Indigenous governments and Provincial ministries.

Once the archaeological clearance work is done, all remains found during the excavation now underway will be documented and reinterred at Woodlawn Memorial Park.

Respect and dignity for human remains

To ensure that human remains are treated with respect and dignity the City does not take or share photographs of any remains found. The City requests that media and the public also follow this direction for the respectful treatment of remains.

Site history

The triangular block that is the currently Baker Street parking lot was the site of an all-faith cemetery from 1827-1853. The Public Burying Ground was established by the Canada Company in 1827. The site was used as a cemetery for 26 years. In 1853 the Town of Guelph passed a new bylaw banning human burials within town limits. The property continued to be owned by the Canada Company for another 24 years, until it was purchased by the City for use as a public park in 1879. When plans were made to move the remains from the old Public Burying Ground to a new cemetery (Woodlawn Memorial Park), family members moved some burials but others, especially unmarked graves, remained.

About the Baker District redevelopment

The City and Windmill Developments are transforming the existing Baker Street municipal parking lot and adjacent properties into a vibrant district nestled in Guelph’s historic core that will create a renewed area of activity, commerce and civic space for the local community and city.

This welcoming and publicly accessible integrated civic hub—known as the Baker District—is anchored by a new central Guelph Public Library and includes outdoor urban squares, residential units, commercial space and public parking.

As a landmark city-building initiative, the Baker District redevelopment further revitalizes Guelph’s downtown and—by extension—improves the entire city’s economic and social prosperity.

The Baker District redevelopment project supports multiple priorities of the City’s strategic plan, Guelph. Future Ready.:

  • Sustaining Our Future through net-zero carbon targets
  • Powering Our Future through helping to grow downtown business and the local economy
  • Building our Future through the inclusion of affordable housing
  • Working Together for Our Future through innovation and strategic partnerships

The redevelopment also supports the themes of Guelph’s Community Plan to love where we live, protect our environment, create value, and play and explore.

Resources

For more information about the archaeological investigation

Prasoon Adhikari, Supervisor, Environmental Engineering
Engineering and Transportation Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2946
[email protected]

For more information about the Baker District redevelopment

Stephen Gazzola, Project Manager
Facilities and Energy Management
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3886
[email protected]