It is 1856, Toronto. Unable to make a living in the New World from his trade, English apothecary J. G. Hallam takes up the new science of photography, and embarks on a grand project to document the bleak young city. But returning from an exhibition of these images in England, Hallam's ship is lost in a violent storm on Lake Ontario - and the strongbox holding the photographs is lost. A century and a half later, and the shoreline of the harbour has shifted dramatically. Professor David Hollis speculates that the sunken ship containing this important historical record lies in the landfill where the city's new Union Arena is to be built. But his findings are met only with howls of derision from his colleagues.Three months later, Hollis is dead - and his grieving widow, Marianne, embarks on a furtive, unsettling quest to vindicate her husband. From her hotel room overlooking the excavation site where the arena is to stand, she watches and waits for a piece of the past to reappear that might alleviate the anguish of these civic and private vanishings.