Saturday, March 25, 2006

Discovery of old wharf a 'wake-up call'

TorontoSun.com - Mike Strobel - Discovery of old wharf a 'wake-up call'

Sometimes history gets in the way of progress. Toronto and other cities just like it have seen historic buildings fallen or included incoporated into new buildings. Usually, when a historical artifact (e.g. building, landmark, etc.) is known about, the item can be included into the plans for a newer piece of construction (i.e. a building). However, sometimes history can be hidden away for over a hundred years and is not known about until stumbled accross.

This happenned in Toronto recently when the old Queen's Wharf was dug up by construction crews who were digging in order to lay a foundation for a parking lot and for a new condiminium project. The old Queen's Wharf used to be where sailing ships hauling cargo would dock in order to unload their contents at the Toronto Harbour back in the late 1800's. However, due to issues of sailing into and out of the Toronto harbour, the wharf was no longer used and industrial progress took place. Soon Toronto's harbour would be pushed southward via quite a few landfill projects. Front Street, named at the time because the street ran along the harbourfront at the time, would become an irony. An irony because it would be pushed further and further back from the lake front (as seen here).

Fast forward until more recent times. Construction crews are trying to dig down in order to lay a good base for a parking lot for a condiminium project. The crews strike large cedar pieces of timber nailed together using wooden connections. The old Queen's wharf is suddenly unburied! Now what to do is the question. I will let Mike Strobel, columnist of the Toronto Sun tell the full story on this one.

Apparently, because this piece of history was hidden from view and forgotten about for about a hundred years, it has to go. There was not even a thought of including this piece of Toronto's history into a windowed portion for tourists to look at. An example of this possibility can be found in southern Manhatten Island (New York City) where the remenants of the Old Dutch City Hall building's foundation can be seen through a glass encased section of an otherwise unassuming New York City sidewalk right next to a large modern financial office building. This can be seen at 85 Broad Street just south of Stone St. and north of Pearl and Bridge Streets in Lower Manhatten (south of the famous Wall Street Area). The remenants were stumbled upon when 85 Broad Street was being constructed and saved. Now tourists and locals alike can look through the glass encased portion of the sidewalk to see what the Dutch had built.

Now to Toronto. In true Toronto form, the old Queen's wharf is no more. A corner of it has been excavated and sent, for posterity purposes only, to Old Fort York. The rest of this historical piece of workmanship has been chainsawed and sent to a Michigan landfill. A shame really that the remenants couldn't have been included within the construction of the parking lot and plaqued. A shame really that the landowner or the city did not see the great possibility of saving the old wharf. Now the true history of why "Front Street" was truly "Front Street" may never be known. Sad really. But I guess this is progress.

2 comments:

  1. More recently in New York construction workers have hit several Dutch colonial era walls while constructing a new subway line through Battery Park:
    Found: Old Wall in New York, and It's b locking the Subway, Subway Workers Run Into Historic Stone Wall, Battery's Wall Rediscovered 300 years or so later.

    They are preserving chunks of the wall and have placed part of the wall on display in Battery Park.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cool and not so Cool.(-: )-:

    but unfortunately we can't preserve everything.

    ReplyDelete

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