There are stories about creepy tunnel monsters from all over the world, ranging from ghostly to bloody to downright frightening. New York famously has man-eating alligators in its sewers. London has monstrous black pigs under its streets. Toronto, however, has the Cabbagetown Tunnel Monster.
While there are many urban legends of mythical creatures in Canada, the tunnel monster is one of the most famous and enigmatic monsters to date. Despite the fact that it's only been seen once, legends abound.
See for yourself: is the Cabbagetown tunnel monster a myth? Did someone simply mistake a stray dog, or perhaps an overgrown beaver, for the creature? Or is the tunnel monster something much more?
The origins of this urban legend come from a 1979 article in the Toronto newspaper The Sunday Sun. The article, titled "Tunnel monster of Cabbagetown?," evokes some pretty interesting imagery.
The article purports that a Toronto resident of the Cabbagetown district named Ernest was searching for a missing kitten when he came across a tunnel near his apartment building. He encountered a monster roughly 10 feet in and was so shocked and frightened by it that he fled. The article notes that “he saw a living nightmare he’ll never forget.”
The creature was so unbelievable to Ernest that he barely told anyone about it. He said to the reporter, “If I tell you what I saw, people will think I was drunk or crazy. They’ll never believe me.”
Ernest, the first and only person to see the tunnel monster, describes it as somewhat monkey like with orange slanted eyes.
"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."
But even more than how the creature looked, Ernest was spooked most by the fact that it spoke to him. Specifically, it warned him against going any further.
"It said 'Go away, go away,' in a hissing voice. Then it took off down a long tunnel off to the side... I got out of there as fast as I could. I was shaking with fear."
Animal Planet’s Freak Encounters featured a segment on Toronto’s tunnel monster. In the show, Toronto sends sewer workers to inspect the tunnel system. When Salako Kalfou, Director of the Occult Research Bureau, was interviewed on the show, he noted that the tunnel was partially collapsed, possibly by the creature itself.
"One theory is that this creature actually knocked down part of the wall to prevent people from going further in to look for it. So if that's the case, then this creature would probably have the ability to tear a person into small pieces."
Memegwesi are creatures from Native American lore that live in or near rivers and lakes. They’re mischievous pranksters and thieves, and they'll tip your canoe if you don’t give them a proper offering, such as a pinch of tobacco.
Myth says that although they steal from fishing nets, they can also be helpful. According to stories, they live in hollowed-out rocks, are about 3 feet tall, are very hairy, and have high-pitched, nasal voices. Perhaps centuries of living in Toronto’s underground rivers has turned these simple Memegwesi into subterranean predators.