Nova Scotia·Video

Mystery chamber at Province House to remain a mystery for now

Questions about a vault discovered during work on the grounds at Province House in August, 2018 will remain unanswered, at least for now, because provincial archaeologists don't consider the discovery a priority.

'If there is tremendous significance in the future, that'll be the time to look at that,' says Leo Glavine

Descend into the living-room-sized vault that was a 'total surprise' to archeologists at Province House

3 years ago
The subterranean dry-stone-laid chamber was discovered in August 2018 during part of the work to remodel the grounds at the Nova Scotia legislature. 1:04

A Nova Scotia discovery that piqued international interest nearly a year ago has failed to capture the imagination of provincial archeologists.

According to Heritage Minister Leo Glavine, there are no plans to further explore the mysterious chamber discovered during work on the grounds outside Province House in August 2018.

"It isn't something that we're taking on at the present time," he said following a cabinet meeting Thursday.

In an explanation provided by his department by email, an official wrote: "Further investigation at this point of the resources uncovered at the Provincial Legislature site is not currently in the top research priorities for the Museum team."

Awaiting final report

Glavine said he was waiting for a final report from department archeologists before making further plans.

"If there is tremendous significance in the future, that'll be the time to look at that," he said.

Crews discovered the vault while digging out a trench to install a new electrical system and run audio and video cables.

A backhoe hit what was assumed to be bedrock near the corner of Prince and Hollis streets in front of the Joseph Howe statue. But it was the roof of a vault, roughly the size of an average living room.

"It was a total surprise to the archeologists and the construction crew," said April MacIntyre, the principal archeologist on the site.

Archeologist April MacIntyre at work on the grounds of Province House. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

In MacIntyre's report to the government, she describes the mysterious chamber as "a subterranean stone-walled feature measuring approximately six metres north-south by four metres east-west and approximately three metres high to the top of the silt that has collected on the floor."

In that same report, she also recommends the government investigate further using ground-penetrating radar. She also noted hands-on exploration could also go ahead.

No plans to put artifacts on display

Provincial archeologists are "reviewing and processing" 1,534 objects found during the excavation work at the Nova Scotia legislature. Much of it is glass or pottery.

Some of the fragments have been pieced together to form half-finished bowls, goblets or basins.

According to the department, those artifacts "will be featured in a Nova Scotia e-publication later this year on urban archaeology in Halifax."

There are currently no plans to display any of what was unearthed during the three-month-long construction period.