TORONTO - The copper box weighs no more than a pound, and a simple shaking reveals it likely contains nothing more than papers or documents.
The rectangular box is deeply tarnished, and the reason for the tarnish is simple - it's been buried behind the cornerstone of the former Toronto High School for 89 years, according to Fred Burns, district superintendent.
"This is a copper time capsule," said Burns. "It measures 16 inches by 7 inches by 6 inches."
Photo by Mark Miller
Fred Burns, superintendent of Toronto City Schools, holds the time capsule recently discovered during the demolition of the former Toronto High School, built in 1925. No one knows what’s inside the capsule that was sealed behind the building’s cornerstone in 1925, but the public will have a chance to find out as the capsule is opened during the next city school board meeting, set for 5 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the Karaffa Middle School commons.
The capsule was discovered by workers engaged in the demolition of the former school, Burns added.
"In taking the cornerstone out, they found it," said Burns. "No one knew it was there, and the company doing the demolition brought it to me."
Burns said this isn't the first time a school building has been torn down and a surprise discovered. When the former S.C. Dennis School was torn down, another time capsule was discovered in two copper tubes.
"We're going to follow the same protocol we did when we found the time capsule at S.C. Dennis from 1956," Burns said. "We opened it during a board meeting in public and preserved everything.
"The cornerstone at S.C. Dennis was laid by the Toronto Masonic Lodge, while the cornerstone at the former high school was laid by the Oddfellows, a fraternal organization at the time," Burns continued. "The time capsule at S.C. Dennis contained a list of Masons from the Toronto Masonic Lodge 583, all the organizations in the city and a copy of the program from May 13, 1956, from the dedication ceremony. It's also interesting S.C. Dennis was named after the superintendent at the time the high school was built in 1925. His first name was Samuel, but no one knows his middle name. We've even checked burial records."
Burns said the Feb. 13 meeting will partly be held in the commons area so the public can view the opening of the capsule.
"Everyone is invited to attend," he said. "Since the capsule is 89 years old, we know of no living teacher or student who's still alive to remember (the capsule being laid)."
Burns said local media also will be invited for the opening, and "the contents will be on display at the superintendent's office and also during the all-school reunion later this year."
All documents found will be preserved, he added.