By Wayne Litke
Late last month news broke about a mysterious tunnel that was found in Toronto, but there has been little said about the builders of the structure or its actual purpose. There has been plenty of speculation, but no definitive answer to the question, why was it built? However, I believe there is a simple explanation with a possible link to the Prairies that investigators have overlooked.
The tunnel was discovered in a heavily wooded area near York University and not far from Rexall Stadium. It is approximately 2.5 metres high, 0.7 metres wide and 10 metres in length.
While it is well-constructed with 2×8 (inch) double studs to bear the weight of overhead soil, it lacks finishing touches such as gyproc, drywalling and painting. Since the interior was not completed, decorations were minimal and reportedly included lovely blue tarps, a rosary and a Remembrance Day poppy – all of which were affixed to walls.
I believe a bathroom had not yet been constructed which is likely because the city has not issued a permit for construction or the connection to water and sewer services. At the very least it appears as if the builders were trying to avoid paying for a construction permit and they were certainly successful at avoiding building inspectors (at least until recently).
The structure has electricity thanks to a generator and moisture-resistant electrical lighting. It also has all the amenities of an escape tunnel, bunker or rustic get-away including a pulley system, sump pump and drink containers. As for heating, being constructed below the frost line allows the heat of lights to easily maintain the structure at a comfortable 20-plus degrees and for that reason it receives top marks for being an eco-friendly tunnel.
People looking for investment opportunities in the real estate market definitely missed the boat by not acquiring this one-of-a-kind property. The quaint structure is unique in its design and décor which (with the exception of tarping) uses earth tones to accentuate the natural beauty of the tunnel and its surroundings. Unfortunately, the property is now off the market as the structure was snapped up by the police who carefully scrutinized it before filling it in.
Destroying the structure was such a waste in my opinion as it could have been used for tourism purposes similar to the way Moose Jaw revitalized its underground tunnels and now use them as major tourist attractions. I am sure a similar course of action could be taken in Maple Creek if serious excavations were conducted in the downtown core.
Getting back to Toronto’s tunnel, numerous scenarios were put forth about the structure’s purpose including it was the work of terrorists who want to disrupt the 2015 Pan-Am Games. Some people felt it was a fallout shelter in event a nuclear war occurs, an engineering project by university students or an excavation project by treasure hunters. A plausible explanation reportedly came from Stephen King who said aliens would use the tunnel for abducted women who would in turn be used to repopulate their dying planet.
Based on childhood forts and tunnels that I helped construct, I initially felt it was a hideout for someone, but not children. Adults or older teens had to be the builders as only they could afford a nail gun, air compressor and heavy-duty building materials. Therefore it seemed like the tunnel probably was the initial phase of a downtown grow-op, meth amphetamine lab or home-brew distillery.
However, it could just as easily be used as a retreat for homeless people who need a break from living on the street. If that lifestyle doesn’t kill a person, I am sure the noise and cold gets on a person’s nerves. Therefore a little R&R in a quiet underground getaway would really be appreciated by any homeless person living in downtown Toronto. It’s also within walking distance, so that’s a bonus.
The underground structure may have served as a secret hideout for Rob Ford, Toronto’s former infamous mayor. It makes a person wonder where Ford was when the media, police and family members couldn’t find him. The tunnel’s layout is somewhat reminiscent of an opium den, and as a crack house it would certainly be able to handle rowdy behaviour and parties without disturbing the neighbours.
It could also be the start of a tunnel to smuggle illegal Mexican workers into Canada. A long-distance underground tunnel would allow aliens to enter the country without being seen in the U.S.
On Monday, Toronto police reported two men in their 20s had built the structure to use as a man cave – a place to simply hang out. They apparently had no ill-intent or engineering experience and no charges were laid against them. The names of the builders were not released, which may be a good thing since I’ve had an uneasy feeling about the story since I heard about it.
Our youngest son, Matthew, is now living in Toronto and working in the downtown area as he works on his sports and recreation internship at the Pan-Am Games. He has a one-hour commute to work in the city’s core via bus and train and is not enjoying the travel time. I was definitely fishing when I sent him a text congratulating him on his problem-solving ability and good construction work on the tunnel. His reply was straight forward, “Ha, ha – had to think outside the box!”