Blame Indiana Jones, but when Torontoist was younger, we wanted to be an archaeologist when we grew up. Although our math grades weren’t up to snuff, the yearning to dig for ancient treasure has never gone away. So most mornings, you’ll find us peering through a chain link fence at the corner of Adelelaide and Simcoe, watching real archaeologists sifting through rubble and delicately dusting off old marbles and broken plates with little brushes. It’s not quite the Ark of the Covenant, but these little relics help us 21st century types piece together a picture of early 19th century Toronto life.
Until November, a team from Toronto Archaeological Services will be excavating the site of the once-posh residences of the Bishop’s Block (or what remains of it), one of the oldest structures in Toronto. The townhouses, with the exception of two, were demolished in 1962 to make way for a parking lot. The saving grace is that their 1820s-era foundations were preserved by a thick slab of asphalt. Which is why this parking lot is paradise for archaeologists.
While the diggers were too busy to talk (they have to finish the dig before construction begins on the Shangri-La Hotel and Condominium development), we were treated to a running commentary by two parking lot attendants who have also been following the work with a proprietary interest. “Global News and City TV were here a couple of weeks ago when they uncovered the big round thing,” said one attendant of the digger’s biggest find so far—a large cistern filled in with shards of crockery, clay pipes, and old bits of shoe. “I think they will find a body before they are done,” said the other.