Toronto

Archeological finds put new St. Lawrence Market building 2 years behind schedule

Development of the new St. Lawrence Market North building has fallen about two years behind schedule, and costs are on the rise, because of historic objects dug up on the site that date back to the 1800s, CBC Toronto has learned, including an artifact belonging to the man who invented Canada Dry ginger ale.

Project's $90M cost set to rise, CBC Toronto has learned

A team of archeologists and researchers combs through the 200-year-old site of the St. Lawrence Market North building in February, 2017. (Archeological Services Inc.)

Development of the new St. Lawrence Market North building has fallen about two years behind schedule, and costs are on the rise, because of historic objects dug up on the site that date back to the early 1800s, CBC Toronto has learned, including an artifact belonging to the man who invented Canada Dry ginger ale.

A city staff update report released late last month pegs the new completion date at 2020, rather than the previous target date in 2018.

Coun. Pam McConnell, whose ward includes the market, said Monday the delay is the result of an unexpectedly large number of historic artifacts uncovered on the site on the northwest corner of Jarvis and Front streets.

"We've done a full dig on the entire property, so that's the reason there's been delays," she told CBC Toronto Monday. "On the other hand, this is timeless in terms of the importance of what we found."

An artist's rendering of the new North St. Lawrence Market building. The new projected completion date is in 2020, rather than 2018. (City of Toronto)

The dig went longer than expected but wrapped up earlier this year. Now, the artifacts have to be painstakingly removed and catalogued, according to city staff. But that won't happen until the city decides where — and how — to display them, McConnell said.

Until those artifacts are removed, construction of the new $90-million. five-story, glass and steel building cannot begin.

McConnell said she'd like to see the antique stoneworks and other artifacts on display in the new building. And she acknowledged that a display will lead to a steeper price tag for the project, although staff can't determine how much more until councillors decide exactly how to display the artifacts.

Archeologist David Robertson says the finds on the market site show Toronto was more urban that some people thought, even in the 1830s. (Jon Castell/CBC News)

McConnell said she visited the dig several times, and was particularly tickled by a bottle the crew uncovered: "One of the funny things we found was a bottle from J.J. McLaughlin. He's the chemist who invented Canada Dry."

Archeologist David Robertson, of Archeological Services Inc., the firm hired by the city to scour the site, said the artifacts range in size from a large stone sewer pipe that's about 10 metres long, to items as small as everyday eating utensils.

The site has been used as a marketplace since the early 1800s he said, undergoing several re-builds over the years.

Councillor Pam McConnell (Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) says she wants the new market building to house the historic artifacts uncovered on the site. (CBC)

"Many people think there's been five buildings here, there can't be much of interest," he said Monday at the site. "But it's always a work in progress, a property like this, so its great to be able to tease out all the different periods."

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