Unearthing our First Parliament

  • Two men conducting an archaeological excavation

    Archaeological excavations of Toronto’s first parliament buildings in progress, 2000.
    Courtesy of Archaeological Services Inc

  • Pottery fragments, a button, and a nail unearthed during archaeological excavations

    Pottery fragments, a button, and a nail found during archaeological excavations of the first parliament buildings.
    © Legislative Assembly of Ontario, courtesy of Archaeological Services Inc

Unearthing our First Parliament
The southwest corner of Front and Parliament Streets has undergone significant transformations since the destruction of the first parliament buildings in 1813.  In 1820, a new parliament building was constructed on the same site.  It only stood until 1824, when it also burned - this time, accidentally.  Since then, the site has been home to a jail, a Consumer’s Gas office building, and a carwash.

The material history of our earliest parliament structures remained buried beneath the soil until the fall of 2000, when archaeological excavations unearthed fragments of items once used in the buildings.  Their discoveries have enhanced greatly our understanding of the day-to-day activities that took place in the Parliament, as well as the extent of the fire damage.