Real estate giant Ivanhoé Cambridge is resuming construction on a new Montreal office tower after confirming there are no signs of aboriginal artifacts at the site.
Ivanhoé, the real estate arm of pension fund giant Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, said on Monday a study by an outside archeological specialist firm found no indications of historical relics in the soil at the downtown Montreal location.
The company said last month it had "voluntarily paused" preliminary excavation work for the 27-storey tower until an archeological assessment was conducted.
Ivanhoé halted the work after a freelance photographer expressed concern the site could be an ancient aboriginal burial ground.
The $200-million office-tower project – Maison Manuvie – is in partnership with Toronto-based Manulife Financial Corp. to house the insurer's Quebec employees on 11 floors following Manulife's $4-billion acquisition of Standard Life Canada.
Ivanhoé said on Monday it decided to suspend work even though it "held all the necessary permits and approvals for construction of the building."
Quebec's culture and communications ministry has maps indicating the location, between Metcalfe and Mansfield streets on de Maisonneuve, is "outside any designated archeological zone, Ivanhoé said.
An expert firm, Archéotec Inc., was hired to conduct an "Assessment of archeological Potential" study, with the approval of the ministry, Ivanhoé said.
The surface soils appear to have been stripped during the various building periods and street and infrastructure development in the 19th and 20th centuries, according to the report.
"In particular, the surface soils that could conceal archeological elements connected to [the site] are clearly not there."
Photographer Robert Galbraith said last month the construction site could be part of what historians call the Dawson archeological site, an ancient aboriginal village with the remains of tools and human bones.
Some observers believe the site is in fact Hochelaga, the St. Lawrence Iroquoian village visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535, but that theory has never been proven.
Ivanhoé has posted the Archéotec report to its website.