Before Toronto: An Archaeological Tour of Our City’s First 13000 Years.

Spent an interesting day yesterday learning about the archaeological significance of several areas of the city of Toronto. This was a bus tour organized by Heritage Toronto, an organization whose purpose is promoting awareness and educating the public about the history of our city.

The tour was conducted by Dr. Ronald Williamson, Chief Archaeologist at ASI Archaeological Cultural and Heritage Services, a prominent consulting and education-oriented company that has been involved in many high profile projects over the years including the recent find of an 1800’s schooner at a construction site in downtown Toronto.

The day started with a few introductory words from Francisco Alvarez, Director of Heritage Toronto, after which we boarded a very comfortable tour coach and proceeded to explore the city.

With stops at places such as Hillcrest Park, Taber Hill, and James Gardens, to name a few of the locations,

The Taber Hill Ossuary
The Taber Hill Ossuary

Dr. Williamson introduced us to the history of our city dating back to the end of the last ice age. We learned about the changing coastline of Lake Ontario, significant finds and archaeological sites that we pass every day, yet never consider as important, or even realize exist.

We were joined by Carolyn King of the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation, who provided first-hand recollections of experiences of the indigenous peoples and their significance in the history of this area.

Carolyn King addresses the tour group.
Carolyn King addresses the tour group.

The trip took us to the Taber Hill Ossuary, a sacred burial site in Scarborough, the resting place of 472 souls.

Carolyn King sprinkles tobacco around the Taber Hill Ossuary as an offering to her ancestors.
Carolyn King sprinkles tobacco around the Taber Hill Ossuary as an offering to her ancestors.

We also visited Moatfield, The Alexandra Site, and James Gardens, places that many of us have probably been to without realizing their historical importance.

Dr. Williamson displays one of the findings at James Gardens.
Dr. Williamson displays one of the findings at James Gardens.

It was a long day, more than seven hours travelling, and a lot of information to process.

A map showing the local areas of archaeological significance.
A map showing the local areas of archaeological significance.

Personally, this was just the start for me; the information that we were presented with has served to make me curious to learn more and I am certain to be following the activities of both the ASI and Heritage Toronto.

Displaying an artefact found in a residential dig in the city.
Displaying an artefact found in a residential dig in the city.
Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Before Toronto: An Archaeological Tour of Our City’s First 13000 Years.

  1. I wish I had known of this tour. I would have loved to attend. Any quick insight as to the stop at Hillcrest Park?

    1. Hi Nelia,

      The park appears totally innocuous…just another neighbourhood swings and tennis court deal. The fact is, you can see where the shoreline of Lake Iroquois was 14000 years ago, and learn about what was going on between then, and 12000 years ago when the shoreline was out beyond the islands.

      It’s a fascinating subject that I will definitely explore further.

    2. Just a great place to reflect on where we stood in the grand scheme of things after the last ice age. Really puts the current City Council squabbles into perspective.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s