Previously: Pupa The Haunted Doll.
Type: Subject exhibits qualities characteristic of both FC (Fearsome Critter) and PE (Preternatural Entity) classifications, although whether it is solely one or the other has not been determined. Further research is required, although regretfully, it is unlikely to occur for reasons that will become clear shortly — namely, that subject has been seen once, and only once, in the entirety of recorded history.
Period/location of origin: Subject, known as the Cabbagetown Tunnel Monster or the Toronto Tunnel Monster, was first sighted in August of 1978 in — or, more accurately, under — the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Toronto in the Canadian province of Ontario. This sighting remains the only recorded sighting in history.
Subject’s precise date of origin remains unknown. Subject’s precise location of origin remains unknown. Whether or not subject is even originally from Canada remains unknown.
Appearance: Subject, according to its one and only known witness, is “long and thin,” about three feet in length and roughly 30 pounds in weight. It has “long, large teeth” and “slate grey fur.” Its eyes are “orange and red” and “slanted.” Of all possible analogs, it most closely resembles a monkey — although subject is most definitely not a monkey.
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Subject is capable of speech, and can both understand and communicate in at least one human language (English). Sounds resembling those made by “animals in pain” may also be heard within the vicinity of subject, although it is not clear whether subject makes those sounds itself, or… not.
Modus operandi: Subject seemingly lives in the ad hoc tunnel system beneath Cabbagetown in Toronto — hence its two most commonly-referenced monikers: The Cabbagetown Tunnel Monster and the Toronto Tunnel Monster.
It appears to have no modus operandi other than that: To live. It does not like to be disturbed, and will not hesitate to inform trespassers upon its territory of that fact. Should any witnesses stumble upon subject within its abode, it will tell the intruder(s) to “GO AWAY, GO AWAY” in what has been described as a “hissing voice.”
Nothing further is known of subject’s modus operandi. It is not known, for instance, what it subsists upon, or what it may do to any trespassers who should fail to heed its warnings.
Further, it remains unknown whether this lack of knowledge is due to a lack of additional sightings… or because those who have sighted it have not lived to tell the tale.
Containment: The entrance to the tunnel in which the single witness claimed to have sighted subject reportedly caved in many years ago; the tunnel therefore remains inaccessible. Additionally, it is no longer known precisely where this entrance was in the first place. Subject is effectively contained within its own home, undisturbed and alone — just the way it likes it.
Additional notes: The area which would eventually become the city of Toronto, inhabited by First Nations peoples for many thousands of years, was invaded by European colonizers beginning in the early 17th century, with the arrival of the French. Like much of North America, it was fought over by numerous European nations for several centuries, pushing out indigenous populations in the process. British colonizers established the area as the Town of York in 1793; it would not regain its name of Toronto until it was incorporated as a city in 1834.
As the city grew, a sprawling network of tunnels also grew beneath the city’s surface. They were not centralized, but rather used for a wide variety of purposes: Some belonged to rivers, creeks, and other waterways; some belonged to the expanding and incredibly effective sewer system; some were meant to alleviate above-ground traffic congestion and provide pedestrian space; and some belonged to the subway system.
Naturally, as time went on, many enthusiastic hobbyists began to explore these tunnels, some of which were still in use, others of which were not. Many of the disused ones were, after all, still accessible, even if they weren’t strictly supposed to be entered.
It is within one such tunnel — more of a chamber, as the sole witness put it — that subject made its home.
This particular tunnel is located below the streets of the area of Toronto known as Cabbagetown. Once a village located outside of the city, Cabbagetown eventually became subsumed by it, and is now considered a part of Toronto proper. It is known for its green streets lined with well-preserved Victorian homes, and for Parliament Street, which runs straight through the middle of the neighborhood.
Virtually all of the information we have about subject, including its home neighborhood, comes from one, single eyewitness and a short article published in the Toronto area newspaper the Sunday Sun on March 25, 1979. Written by now-legendary columnist Lorrie Goldstein, then within the first year or two of his long and storied career, the article featured the account of a person who identified himself only as “Ernest”; “Ernest” made the withholding of his last name a condition of speaking with Goldstein, as he feared “being called by a bunch of cranks” after revealing his story.
Goldstein further notes that Ernest didn’t come to the paper with the tale; the paper had heard about the story from a mutual contact, and sought Ernest out themselves.
According to Ernest, then 51, he had encountered subject the previous year, in August of 1978, after venturing down into the tunnels near the apartment on Parliament Street he shared with his spouse. Ernest’s reason for entering the tunnel was unexpectedly wholesome: He and his spouse had been looking after a litter of kittens, and one had escaped. He hoped he would find the kitten in the tunnel.
About 10 feet into what Goldstein termed “a small cave,” Ernest encountered subject, describing the meeting as follows:
“It was pitch black in there… I saw it with my flashlight. The eyes were orange and red, slanted… It was long and thin, almost like a monkey… three feet long, large teeth, weighing maybe 30 pounds with slate-grey fur.”
Upon spotting him, said Ernest, the creature spoke. “I’ll never forget it,” said Ernest. “It said, ‘Go away, go away,’ in a hissing voice. Then it took off down a long tunnel off to the side.” Ernest fled the tunnels, terrified.
Ernest’s spouse, Barbara, did not witness subject, but she did corroborate a key point: The state he was in upon his return to their home. “I believe Ernie saw exactly what he says he did,” she told Goldstein and the Sunday Sun. “He was terrified when he came back to the apartment and he doesn’t scare easily.” She also stated that he had not partaken in any substances such as alcohol at the time; he was, as they say, stone-cold sober.
Ernest agreed to take Goldstein to the tunnel. The entrance, wrote Goldstein, was “at the bottom of a narrow passage between the building where [Ernest lived] and the one next door”; it was only accessible by climbing “15 feet down the wrong side” of a disused fire escape which, rather than leading to the street, at that time deposited people using it in “a narrow chamber with walls on four sides.”
The opening to the tunnel was, at the time, partially blocked by a collapsed concrete slab. Fighting past the collapse led those brave or foolishe enough to enter into a “a narrow passageway,” which branched off to the left after about 10 feet. Ernest suspected that the tunnel led to the sewer system, although a career sewer worker consulted by the Sun said that it was more likely “the result of poor drainage over the years which has caused erosion underground, hollowing out the passage.”
It was here that Ernest said he had witnessed subject.
Goldstein did not see subject himself during this return visit; furthermore, no additional sightings of subject have ever been documented. And yet, subject has become a well-loved piece of local lore, with numerous theories floating about regarding what subject — what the Cabbagetown Tunnel Monster of Toronto — really was: A racoon? An escaped monkey? A person living in the sewers? An alien living in a sort of mirror image, bizarro version of Toronto? Something… else?
No satisfactory explanation or definitive answer has been forthcoming.
Goldstein, for his part, went on to have a long and acclaimed career; he was inducted into the Canadian News Hall Of Fame in 2019.
It is unknown whether subject is still at large within the tunnels beneath Cabbagetown and Toronto.
Recommendation: Do as subject demands: GO AWAY.
But really, just…
…stay out of the tunnels in the first place.
“Toronto Urban Legends: The Real Toronto Underground” at Torontoist.
“The Tunnel Monster Of Cabbagetown” at the Toronto History Weekly.
“Toronto’s Secret Tunnels” at the Haunted Walk.
“Toronto’s Tunnels” at Heritage Toronto.
Reproduction of Lorrie Goldstein’s article “Tunnel Monster Of Cabbagetown?”, originally published by the Sunday Sun on March 25, 1979.
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