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May 20, 2019

Parliament Hill excavation uncovers pre-Confederation military complex

 

 

As reported on CBC News, buried beneath the flowers, trees and statues dotting the grounds of Parliament Hill are the remnants of a military complex that predates both Confederation and the founding of Ottawa.

An archeology team has been working since April to unearth the ruins of the complex as part of the ongoing renovations to Centre Block.

What they’ve uncovered so far — barracks, an old guardhouse, and what was the former city of Bytown’s first jail — is just a small tidbit of what may be to come.

The complex contains the remnants of what existed on Parliament Hill before Centre Block was built, during the time the Rideau Canal was first being constructed.

“This was the headquarters for the entire canal construction for the soldiers,” said Stephen Jarrett, archeology project manager with Centrus, a consortium providing architectural and engineering services for the Centre Block rehabilitation project.

The canal’s construction was overseen by Lt. Col. John By, for whom Bytown was named.

Three barracks, a guardhouse, a jail, stables and cookhouses were all built on the north half of the hill starting in 1826 for the Royal Sappers and Miners Regiment, who were tasked with the backbreaking work of digging out more than 200 kilometres of earth from the Ottawa River to Kingston, Ont.

The items uncovered so far include a range of military items: chin straps, tags, gorgets  — which officers often wore to hold their neckties in place — and other domestic items, like coins.

Watch the news video and keep reading on CBC News

 


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