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Archaeologists find 129 graves, bone fragments from 106 people on Baker

All remains found will be transferred to Woodlawn Memorial Park cemetary
Archaeological recovery work at the former Baker Street parking lot have wrapped up.

Archaeological recovery efforts have wrapped up at the former Baker Street parking lot, allowing for the next step to be taken in the downtown property’s planned redevelopment.

While numbers haven’t been finalized, Mike McCready of city-hired Archaeological Research Associates said 129 grave sites and bone fragments from 106 individuals have been unearthed at the former cemetery site.

“We’re working through cataloguing and analyzing all the remains to establish how the demographic profiles with the population that was there,” he said. 

Recovery efforts were set to be done by the end of June, city officials previously announced, but they weren’t completed until this past Thursday. They began last September when the parking lot was permanently closed.

Also included in the study is the small Wyndham Street parking lot which sits directly beside the main lot.

Once the clearance work is completed, all remains found will be re-interred at Woodlawn Memorial Park cemetery.

With archaeological recovery work completed, attention can now be turned to relocating utility services on the site, which is to be turned into the Baker District project featuring residential towers and commercial area, along with a new main Guelph Public Library and public spaces.

“We are finalizing some schedules,” said Stephen Gazzola, who’s heading up the redevelopment effort on behalf of the city. 

“The next big thrust will be the new storm, sanitary sewers and water lines that will go in Baker Street in support of the new development.”

City officials are hopeful groundbreaking for the new library building will happen next spring, with occupancy expected in 2025, though Gazzola notes it will take time for the library to be set up before it opens.

The triangular block that was Baker Street municipal parking lot served as the site of an all-faith cemetery from 1827 to 1853.

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