Elton’s escape hatch

Last months blogpost about the tunnel that was found underneath the city of Toronto needs an update. Its mystery is solved and a great Escape story unravelled! The tunnel was built by Elton McDonald, just a 10 minute walk from his house. He needed to dig to get away from regular life, so he states.

After the mystery tunnel got reported by CBC News last February the tunnel made international news. The tunnel was build so elaborately that it triggered worldwide speculation that the tunnel was part of a terrorist plot. But it was just Elton instead, a young construction worker from a tough neighbourhood, regularly digging as a getaway.

March 13, 2015.  Toronto, ON.  Elton McDonald.Photograph by Della Rollins

Elton McDonald. Photo credit: Della Rollins

Elton already started digging bunkers as a kid in middle school. But the holes were dug too near to the creek and they filled with water. He got discouraged and quit building underground.

This time he was more serious about it. In the summer of 2013 he started digging for the fifth time. He felt ready for it now, plus he’d found the perfect spot. Hidden in a clump of bush the earth was almost clay-like and not too moist as he figured out after digging a test hole. Exactly as it should be.

He’d go dig on weekends and after work. He called in an old friend to help out when it became more tough. Progress could be slow, sometimes they came across rocks that had to be dragged out. One boulder three times the size of a basketball had to be dragged out with a chain. At some point in their process of digging Elton realised that the ground started shifting above. This was when he started making a plan for bracing its interior.


Working on digging out the tunnel near York University. Photo credit: Elton McDonald.

Of course it hurt him when the tunnel had to be filled up with dirt, but luckily he didn’t get punished with any other official charges. The Toronto Police announced that they’d unravelled the mystery saying the tunnel had been built for “personal reasons”.

It was about leaving his comfort zone and to dream of speculative futures, getting free of the static, negative stuff.

All of the media attention made him think. “I want to make new definition of cool” he says. His mother adds: “You got to break the cycle somehow”. And so he launched the online fundraising campaign ‘Eltons Tunnel Vision Fund’  this month to start up a summer program that will give the kins in the neighbourhood a chance to do work outside and do landscaping.

Source: MacLean’s

Posted on April 22, 2015

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