MONTREAL -- An archaeological dig in Laval has turned up some surprising finds.

What is now a parking lot was once an 18th century church. But on the same site, nearly 7,000 bodies have been found, with some just centimetres beneath the ground.

Archaeologist Justine Tetreault said some of those remains were from the two cholera epidemics that hit Laval in the 1830s, claiming thousands of lives in Quebec.

The dig is the first the city has mandated in 50 years. The 32-day search has helped reveal many artifacts showing how the original town of Ste-Rose grew.

“People need to get back their history and learn about how this place developed,” said Tetreault.