Meet the Guy Who Dug Toronto's Mystery Tunnel

Elton McDonald just wanted a place to get away from it all
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2015 4:00 PM CDT
Meet the Guy Who Dug Toronto's Mystery Tunnel
A copy of a Toronto Police photo of a tunnel found near York University in Toronto is shown during a press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

The appearance of a mysterious tunnel in Toronto at first led to fears of some kind of terrorist plot. Later, police announced that it had been built for "personal reasons," and afterward, a young man named Elton McDonald told the Toronto Sun he'd been behind the whole thing. Now, he tells the tunnel's story—and his own—to Nicholas Köhler at Maclean's. McDonald, 22, grew up on a street that Köhler writes may be "the toughest street in Toronto—maybe even Canada." Shootings weren't unusual, and kids he went to school with "are not alive anymore," McDonald's sister says. "They died when they were 16." The underground spot offered an opportunity to get "away from regular things, away from life," says McDonald. "Nothing in particular. Just life itself." He says it "took a couple of years" to build.

The area where McDonald grew up was home to a ravine and a creek where he and his childhood friends used to play. He built the tunnel nearby with an unidentified teenage friend. McDonald had grown up fascinated with building and was a natural when he began working in construction; his expertise explains why the tunnel was professionally crafted. After authorities found out about it, McDonald came clean to his boss, who relayed the story to Doug Ford, brother of former mayor Rob; Doug facilitated the process of informing officials. No charges were filed, but the tunnel was filled in, to McDonald's dismay: "It was going to be my underground cottage, basically," he told the Sun. But his sister sees a lesson of hope for the future: "You manifested your dreams," she tells him. Now, he's starting his own construction business. (More Toronto stories.)

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