Tannery Village demolished 'on the sly,' says Projet Montréal

Transport Quebec has demolished most of the archaeological site known as the Tannery Village, one week before the official end date of the excavation, a move that has the city's Official Opposition party upset.

Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries was once an important site for leather production in the 18th century

Transport Ministry employees were on site Saturday morning to raze the Tannery Village. (Radio-Canada)

Transport Quebec has demolished most of the archaeological site known as the Tannery Village, one week before the official end date of the excavation, a move that has the city's Official Opposition party upset.

Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries was a small settlement on the outskirts of Montreal in the 18th and 19th century.

Workers were present Saturday morning to raze the site, something Projet Montréal says was done without warning and 'on the sly.'

"While archaeologists had indicated that excavations would continue until Sept. 26, the backhoes arrived this morning to destroy the remains of an important Quebec archaeological site," Southwest borough councillor Anne-Marie Sigouin said.

"The silence of Denis Coderre allowed Transport Quebec to do what it wanted with the ruins."

Transport Quebec spokesperson Sarah Bensadoun says it was the contractor's decision to go in on Saturday.

"It's not sneaky or secret, we announced foundations were going to be removed last week," she said.

"Once we authorize contractor to work, he manages his own schedule."

What's left of the 18th century archaeological site. (Radio-Canada)

Dinu Bumbaru, policy director with Heritage Montreal, an independent non-profit, said the area was once an important site for leather production.

"It was where back in the 1780s there was this kind of small traditional artisan industry, you know, working with leather was always very important because of the horses," Bumbaru said.

At a public meeting earlier this month, Transport Quebec announced the remains of the Village would be destroyed as work on the $3.7-billion Turcot Interchange project continued. The area is needed for the construction of a water collector which will serve 140,000 households.

The decision to destroy the remains outraged heritage activists, who say the plan for the infrastructure should be revised to accommodate the preservation of the village's remains.