Pieces of Toronto history are being dug up during new downtown river build

Jun 8 2021, 8:18 am

Downtown Toronto is getting a brand new man-made river at the mouth of the Don Valley, and as construction crews have been hard at work excavating the site, they’ve uncovered important pieces of history.

According to Waterfront Toronto, in order to build the new river, roughly 1.4 million cubic metres of soil need to be excavated. And archeologists from Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, along with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, are finding plenty of historical artifacts from the early 1900s.

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Bottles from soda pop proprietor Charles Wilson have been found, all emblazoned with his signature squirrel design. Wilson’s bottles have been around since 1875, when he started producing them at a factory on Sherbourne Street.

They’ve also found bottles from his rival (and the original maker of Canada Dry), J.J. McLaughlin.

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Another fun find was a Chiclet spoon — an advertising gimmick from the early 1900s that shop owners would use to serve up Chiclets.

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A hat from Giuseppe Borsalino — an Italian hat maker dating back to 1857 — was also discovered.

Some of the coolest finds come in the form of newspapers. This one has an ad from the Bredin bakery. It was run by the family of Mark Bredin, who immigrated to Toronto in 1883 and soon after set up their business.

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And the discovery of an old toothbrush shows us that although teeth-cleaning technology may have changed quite a bit since the early 1900s, the general look hasn’t.

The new downtown Toronto river project is still under construction, so only time will tell what else they will dig up.

Laura HanrahanLaura Hanrahan

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