Posts Tagged ‘religion’
John Lorinc reports for the Toronto Star about a fascinating dig on the site of an old African Canadian church, the British Methodist Episcopal church in the middle of Toronto.
It has been called “one of the most important blocks of black history in Toronto,” a place where African Americans, fleeing slavery, found refuge to live, work and worship.
On this tract of land, just north of Osgoode Hall, a handful of African Methodists built a small wood frame church in 1845. It served as the spiritual and political centre of the city’s growing black community, which was asserting its voice in the abolitionist movement and welcoming an influx of families seeking freedom via the Underground Railroad.
Eventually, the congregation outgrew the tiny church and replaced it with a handsome brick temple. But after more than a century, membership dwindled, the congregation moved and the temple was sold off. In the late 1980s, the building was demolished to make way for a parking lot and, until last fall, the church was largely forgotten.
Now, with that same lot being prepared for the development of a new state-of-the-art provincial courthouse, the rich history of Chestnut St.’s British Methodist Episcopal Church has resurfaced, along with that of the 19th-century neighbourhood surrounding it.
Hundreds of thousands of artifacts have been discovered at the 0.65-hectare site — larger than a football field — near University Ave. and Dundas St. Infrastructure Ontario, the government agency overseeing construction, provided the Toronto Star with unique access to the five-month dig, considered one of the most extensive urban archeological projects in North America.
Unearthed ceramics, tools, toys and remnants of clothing are helping to compose a fascinating and largely untold story of the distant origins of Toronto’s diversity.
“Archeology often becomes the voice for the people without history,” says Holly Martelle, the consulting archeologist for the dig.