Construction site unearths a 19th century cemetery in Montreal

Construction workers unearthed 19th century burials just 40 centimetres beneath the ground in downtown Montreal, Canada. Over 40 burials were discovered at a site that is believed to be an abandoned protestant cemetery.

Burial discovered at the site (by The Star)
Burial discovered at the site (by The Star)

The crew digging to install electricity cables at one of the city’s main streets, René-Lévesque Boulevard encountered the burials and notified the authorities. The site is said to have been an old protestant cemetery that existed between 1799 and 1852 and was abandoned about 160 years ago. The land was later bought back by the City of Montreal in 1874 to establish a public park known as Dufferin Square. The park was in the early 1980s overbuilt by a federal building, the Guy-Favreau Complex. Most of the remains from the cemetery were exhumed at the end of the 19th century and buried in another cemetery on Mount Royal. The burials found by the construction workers are those that have been forgotten or missed during the exhumation. The cemetery was used to bury anglophone members of the military as well as civilian s among which was James McGill, founder of McGill University, whose remains were moved in 1875 to a monument in front of the school’s arts pavilion.

Excavations at the site (by The Star)
Excavations at the site (by The Star)

The finds consists of two complete tombs and a number of bones scattered across the site. It’s believed that the bones might have belonged to about 40 different people that could have been buried in a common grave or were displaced when the cemetery was being transformed into a park at the end of the 19th century. Among the finds are also bottles, smoking pipes, a piece of a dish.

(after The Star)

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