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What Lies Beneath: Toronto and The Tunnel Monster of Cabbagetown

Cryptids in Canada are rare, compared to the sheer volume found south of the border. Sure, you might get the occasional sighting of a Sasquatch/Skunk Ape-type humanoid, maybe even the occasional pop-up by Alberta’s Ogopogo, but not much else — so any such encounter in The Great White North is uncommon. Even more so, sightings of such phenomena in a densely populated metropolis are even more infrequent.

Places such as Toronto, Canada — the stalking grounds of the Cabbagetown Tunnel Monster.

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August, 1978: Ernest (no last name given), age 51, went looking for a lost kitten, one of a litter that he and his wife had been raising. Searching the neighborhood, he stumbled across what he described as a “cave.” Crawling in, it wasn’t long before Ernest (in his words) “saw a living nightmare that I’ll never forget.”

By the glow of his flashlight, Ernest saw something that defied conventional description: It was humanoid in shape, “long and thin, almost like a monkey, three feet long, large teeth, weighing maybe 30 lbs with slate-grey fur,” with eyes that were “orange and red, slanted.”

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And it only escalated from there when the creature spoke to him. Not growled, not hissed… spoke.

“I’ll never forget it… 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.”

Suffice to say, Ernest wasn’t all that eager to report what he saw. In fact, it was local newspaper, The Toronto Sun, who came looking for him, after hearing his story from one of their contacts, who happened to work with one of Ernest’s relatives. Eventually, he agreed to be interviewed by the paper, so long as his last name wasn’t used.

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In getting more background on Ernest and his tale, the Sun also grilled Ernest’s friends and family, for the sake of validity. Each and every one of them, including his wife Barbara, not only stood up for Ernest’s character credibility… they also believed him.

Barbara told the Sun: “I believe Ernie saw exactly what he says he did… he was terrified when he came back to the apartment and he doesn’t scare easily. Look, he’s been known to have a drink in the past — like most people — and to occasionally tie one on, but he’s not a drunk and he wasn’t drinking at all that day.”

For the final piece of the story, Ernest took Sun staff to the location of the original sighting — located between his apartment building and its neighbor. The only possible trace of the creature’s presence? The corpse of a cat, decomposing and partially buried inside the tunnel. Speculation remains high that the tunnel in question led directly to Toronto’s underground sewer system, and acted as a point of access for this mysterious subterranean dweller.

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It would be easy to dismiss this story as another piece of colorful urban folklore; nearly forty years later, there’s been no repeat sightings, no other people coming forward with their own encounters to report. But no one in the press, nor his friends and loved ones, doubted Ernest for a second.

More important, perhaps, were the words of two city employees who worked in sewer maintenance — they were also far from skeptical when they heard of The Cabbagetown Tunnel Monster.

“People who work on the surface just don’t know what it’s like down there,” they said. “It’s a whole different world. Who would have thought a few years ago that people would live in sewers, and yet that’s what they found in New York a few years back.”

Another was quoted as saying, “I don’t know what he (Ernest) saw down there, (but) I’ll tell you one thing. If we could get in there, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go down alone.”

So make of that what you will.

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