Under the Stadium: A look at Liberty Village’s dark and hidden history
"The trauma I went through in Mercer, it stayed with me..."
In Toronto’s Liberty Village, on the West end of King Street, stands the Allan A. Lamport Stadium. Eternally sunkissed, even in the midst of Ontario’s bitter February, the 9,000-person capacity sports centre is host to a small snack shack, a sprawling parking lot and 20-foot high stadium seats. But underneath the cleat-beaten turf and white striped lines lies the foundation of the Andrew Mercer Reformatory, one of Canada’s most notorious female prisons.
150 kilometres away lives Robert Burke. Despite residing a two hours drive from the former prison, Burke’s connection to the area runs deep. Burke was born in the reformatory and despite only spending the first year of his life there, the horrors he witnessed as a baby and faced following his mother’s release still haunt him to this day, nearly seventy years later.
Now, Burke is tired. Dedicating most of his adult life to carry on his mother’s legacy and advocating for other “Mercer Babies” that too may have been hidden from the truths of their childhood, Burke believes his story is just one of the possibly many others from the children of the Andrew Mercer Reformatory.