Montreal

Turcot Interchange construction site unearths new artifacts

More artifacts have been uncovered at the site of the new Turcot Interchange in Montreal's St-Henri neighbourhood.

New tannery was never reconstructed or altered, giving archaeologists a better understanding of 18th century

The village found last summer was the heart of region's leather tanning operations in the 18th and 19th centuries. (CBC)

More artifacts have been uncovered at the site of the new Turcot Interchange in Montreal's St-Henri neighbourhood.

Excavation of the new Turcot Interchange has unearthed another tannery, this one about 200 metres from the Saint-Henri-des-tanneries village discovered last summer.

The stone walls of the building are gone, but several basins and baths used for tanning remain. 

Transports Québec made the announcement Monday afternoon.

Unlike the tanneries found in the original village, this tannery was never reconstructed or altered, giving archeologists a better understanding of how the industry functioned in the 18th and 19th century. 

A maquette at the St-Henri Historical Society of Saint-Henri-des-tanneries circa 1820. (Kate McGillivray/CBC)

Transports Quebec archeologist Frank Rochefort painted a picture of a bustling industry. It was placed outside of Montreal because of the strong smells created by the leather treatment.

Archeologists will soon begin a dig at the site, hoping to gather artifacts. After that, the site will be destroyed. 

Discovery last summer

Monday's discovery comes about a year after archaeologists found dozens of 18th century artifacts, including bottles and leather-working tools.

Dinu Bumbaru, policy director with Heritage Montreal, says that at the time, the area was an important area for leather production.

"At some point near the turn of the 20th century, the area was paved over and turned into a rail yard. Then of course in the 1960s, they built the Turcot Interchange," Bumbaru said.

Following the discovery of Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries, Transports Québec made the controversial decision to destroy the remains of the village, in order to continue construction on the $3.7-billion project.
The new Turcot Interchange project is set to take five years to complete. (Transports Québec)

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