It wasn't a secret underground drug-running cave or a subversive terrorist plot.
Turns out that the 33-foot-long bunker, found under one of Toronto's most popular tourist attractions, was literally just a man cave, according to the architect. Elton McDonald, a 22-year-old construction worker, told the Toronto Sun that had he not been caught, he had plans for expansion.
"It wasn't really a tunnel. I was going to expand it to have a couple of rooms," McDonald told the newspaper. "I was hoping to put in a TV. I did some barbecuing in there. It was more a place to hang out." According to the Sun, McDonald took some five years to build the hideout. Police set off widespread concern in February when they announced that they had discovered a "sophisticated hand-dug tunnel near a tennis stadium to be used for the Pan Am Games in July," the Daily Mail reports.
According to the Daily Mail, the tunnel was "reinforced with wooden walls and ceiling supports" and had "electricity supplied by a generator, a sump pump to remove water and a pulley system to remove dirt."
The Daily Mail notes that police originally found the tunnel Jan. 17 in a suburban woodlot but didn't come forward with the discovery until February. Upon inspecting the cave, police grew concerned when they found "a rosary with crucifix and a poppy nailed to one of the tunnel's wooden supports," according to the Daily Mail.
Shortly after alerting the press, police announced that they had arrested two men who they believed were behind the tunnel's construction, but would not reveal their identities because no actual crime had been committed.
McDonald told the newspaper that he heard about the police discovery of the tunnel but was afraid to come forward because he was worried that he might be in trouble. He noted that he began working on the tunnel when he was 17 and thought it would be fun. He claims that he and several friends worked on it and that he had to tell his family what was going on so that they wouldn't question why his clothes were so dirty when he returned home.
And what about the rosary and the poppy?
McDonald told the Sun that his sister gave him the rosary to keep him safe when a small portion of the tunnel caved in. The poppy, he says, he found on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, when war veterans are honored.
McDonald was found out after his employer noticed in a news report that some of the company's equipment had been found at the site and notified police that one of its workers might be involved.
McDonald said he got a call from police asking that he come in and talk about the whole he dug, and at that point he didn't deny it. He went in and told them how and why he had built it and noted that it never occurred to him that it could be a crime.
It doesn't look as if McDonald is going to be charged with anything, but he is sad that his work has since been filled in. He did say that he would like the rosary back if it is being held in evidence, since it was a gift from his sister to keep him safe.
About his man cave, he added: "Just me and a couple of people knew where it actually was. I wanted to keep it a secret and a place where I could always go," he told the Sun. "When you went down there, it was like you don't even exist. I wanted to make it a place that no one knew about it."