Saturday, November 16, 2013

Orillia's oldest road to be widened

ORILLIA - Archeologists were digging at the side of Coldwater Road the past couple of weeks, looking for any remnants of graves or an old log church built in the 1850s.
St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery exists on the south side of the road, where a rudimentary church stood facing southeast, named St. Michael’s.
“The parishioners were very poor and the church was constructed without nails, only wooden dowels and no pews. Worshippers either stood or knelt on the wooden floor,” reads the historic plaque in the cemetery.
“Many of these early pioneers and their descendants are buried in this cemetery,” it reads.
“When the church was too small, it was replaced in 1872 by the Church of Angels Guardian on West Street.”
The City of Orillia, as part of its transportation master plan, is looking at options for widening Coldwater Road from West Street to 200 metres southeast of Collegiate Drive.
Currently, that portion of the street is a two-lane road
“It was identified as having to be done because of the volume of traffic,” said Tracy Blanchard, project manager of technical services with the public works department.
The project is in the stage of getting the environmental assessment done as well as the creation of possible designs.
Part of the project included the hiring of Amick Consultants Ltd. to do an archeological look-see.
“It’s one of the locations of the earliest buildings and Coldwater Road is the oldest road in Orillia,” said Michael Henry, co-owner of the company based in Port McNicoll and London.
“We were trying to establish with the digging of squares if there was any remnants of that early church. It would be significant to the City of Orillia,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t find any evidence of this early church.”
While it’s a “disappointment,” Henry said it’s not surprising from a rudimentary building without a foundation or basement. Also, sacred items would have been removed.
Now that no archeology artifacts have been found, the Coldwater Road expansion project can continue.
Before year’s end, there will be a public meeting regarding the three best options, Blanchard said.

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