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Historic Stone Wall on Former Reformatory Lands Mysteriously Damaged

Updated: Historic Stone Wall on Former Reformatory Lands Damaged by Natural Erosion

Updated August 29th, 2023

The provincial authorities attribute the recent dismantling of the historic field wall at the former Ontario Reformatory to natural erosion. A section of the wall, measuring four meters in length, on the York Road property seemed to have been taken apart between last Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, leaving large stones scattered around.

While some outlets have pushed narratives of intentional vandalism, Catherine Tardik, a communications advisor for Infrastructure Ontario, indicated that initial inspections point to natural erosion as the cause. This aligns with the original theories put forth by the Caught in Guelph (and Area) community members.

Tardik mentioned that ongoing evaluations of the stone wall’s condition are being conducted, but no additional details are available at this moment.

Built by inmates in the 1920s, the wall is safeguarded by the Ontario Heritage Act and is deemed a significant historical element of the York Road property.


Original Story August 24th, 2023

A specific historical aspect of the former Ontario Reformatory has suffered damage, and at this time, the cause or responsible party and any such intentions remain unknown.

Caught in Guelph (and Area) community member Guelph Urbex shared their findings to the community in a post.

Between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, a four-metre-long portion of the field wall that borders the driveway leading to the primary building was apparently taken apart. The area was left littered with large rocks.

Community member Paul Cooper comments “With all the rain this year it would not be ridiculous to assume that a section was eroded and weakened to the point of collapse. Nature may work slow at times but time is on its side!”

Built by the inmates of the reformatory around the year 1920, this field wall is considered a safeguarded feature of the York Road property under the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act. In 2021, the city council unanimously concurred with a Part IV designation under the same act.

This designation has the purpose of conserving structures recognized for their cultural heritage value to ensure they are preserved for future generations.

During the meeting in 2021, the council additionally consented to initiate a heritage cultural district study for the property, a process that is currently ongoing. If ultimately sanctioned, the Part V designation would implement an extra level of protection to prevent planned demolitions or changes that might negatively affect the heritage values.

The Ontario Reformatory was entirely shut down in 2001, and since the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services fully vacated the site in 2014, the property has remained unoccupied. As no specific use has been identified for the site, the provincial government has classified the property as surplus.

Head on over to the Caught in Guelph (and Area) community and join the conversation.

Exploring the former Ontario Reformatory Lands 360.

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