In August 1956, the mound in Taber Hill Park in Scarborough was in the early stages of being flattened for a subdivision when demolition crews noticed bones popping up from the dirt.
These bones turned out to be part of an estimated 523 ancestral Huron-Wendat individuals who were buried in the mound between 1250 CE and 1300 CE.
Taber Hill is considered an ossuary; a term used to describe a secondary burial pit where the bones of individuals are placed after they have been removed from their primary burial context to create a community of the dead. Taber Hill ossuary is roughly 0.34 hectares in size, 15.24 m long, 2.13 m wide and 0.3 m deep. The ossuary featured two burial pits that contained the mingled skeletal remains of many people. Archaeologists also discovered a few bundles — each containing the remains of an individual.
The proposed development was instead turned into parkland to protect the area. A reburial service was performed by Six Nations chiefs in the 1950s and subsequent events included a plaque presentation, a Feast of the Dead ceremony and official site designation through the Ontario Heritage Act. Today, Taber Hill can be found on the northeast side of the park, along with a large plaque to commemorate the site.
By Claire van Nierop