Windsor

Windsor's riverfront may hold an uncovered mass grave, researchers are trying to find it

Researchers at the University of Windsor are trying to find a mass grave on the city's riverfront that's suspected to hold the bodies of 60 people who died during a cholera epidemic in the early 1850s. 

Grave suspected to hold at least 60 cholera victims

Archival picture of Windsor's Riverfront. (City of Windsor/Youtube)

Researchers at the University of Windsor are trying to find a mass grave on the city's riverfront that's thought to hold the bodies of 60 people who died during a cholera epidemic in the early 1850s. 

Professor Maria Cioppa, from the university's department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said her team of undergraduate students are using ground-penetrating radars to locate the grave after being approached by the city earlier this summer. The students have started looking around the Spirit of Windsor train engine and might start looking at the end of Moy Avenue next.

"[The city] wants to make sure that if we find it, that it's not disturbed in the future, which I kind of agree with that one. If you knew where it was then you can agree that they're not disturbed, I mean it's a bad enough incident to begin with ... in terms of them just being dumped in a mass grave at the end of the railway cause no one would let them off," Cioppa said.

"If we can find where they were buried I think that would be a good thing and give them at least closure."

Maria Cioppa is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Windsor. She is researching the mass grave on Windsor's Riverfront. (City of Windsor/Youtube)

According to Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, the grave resulted when immigrants came through on a train and a cholera outbreak occurred among them. 

As a result of the outbreak, it's alleged that about 60 people died and were dumped into a grave site right off the train tracks. 

"In partnership with the University of Windsor, we are determined to find the location, not to relocate the deceased but to mark the location with an appropriate memorial," Dilkens said, adding that more than 166 years have gone by without the grave being found. 

Students are using ground-penetrating technology to search for the grave in Windsor. (City of Windsor/Youtube)

"The 1854 outbreak is an important time in Windsor's history. It is a time when Windsor faced another challenging health situation just as we are facing today and there is no doubt we have faced many challenging times and I believe our community has certainly become stronger and healthier and smarter because of these experiences." 

Cioppa said her students started searching in October and are continuing to do so as long as the weather holds out. 

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