The City of Ottawa has released details of what it plans to do with centuries-old human remains found under Queen Street.
Construction crews doing watermain work first found human bones about a metre below the downtown street in September 2013, a place believed to be a 19th century Christian cemetery.
The City said it has been working with representatives from the Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian faiths to figure out what to do with the remains, working to balance the desire for a peaceful resting place with their historic and educational value.
A memo to Mayor Jim Watson and city council dated Thursday said the remains will go to the Canadian Museum of History for research in July, possibly revealing their identities.
“The Agreement stipulates that the Canadian Museum of History (CMH) will conduct morphological and metric studies for the purpose of reporting the circumstance of death, pattern of disease, sex, stature and the age at death of the individuals,” the memo said.
“Other scientific studies will include DNA testing to report on the cultural affiliation, sex, geographic origin and possible confirmation of ancestral-descendant linkages.”
The remains will be stored at the museum “in a secure and respectful manner” until they can be reinterred, according to the memo.
Research and storage costs will be covered by the museum.
Beechwood Cemetery a possible resting place
The memo, signed by deputy city manager Nancy Schepers, said the hope is to hold a public ceremony to mark the reinterrment as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in 2017.
Such a site would have both individual markers and a commemorative plaque.
The memo said the board of directors for Beechwood Cemetery has offered a spot near the National Military Cemetery.
Archaeologists will work ahead of construction crews to remove the remains they know of and see if there are any more.
The memo said construction crews will then get back to work on the watermain, which is expected to take another two months.