Scarborough’s Tunnels

Original GECO Tunnel under the City of Scarborough, Ontario

Original GECO Tunnel under the City of Scarborough, Ontario

During the Second World War, over four kilometres (13,950 feet) of tunnels ran under the city of Scarborough, Ontario. Heading in a south-east direction from Eglinton and Warden Avenues, this byzantine tunnel network housed service lines for electricity, water, steam, and compressed air, as well as contained transformer vaults and switch rooms for GECO’s sprawling top-secret munitions plant. The tunnel system was equivalent in distance from St. Clair Avenue at the north end of Toronto (at the time) to almost Queen Street in its downtown core. Due to the potential of losing their bearings while navigating the ever-expanding underground maze, workers during GECO’s construction were warned to keep to short sections of tunnel.

In the ensuing decades since the world made its peace with Germany, GECO’s original buildings have been zoned for light commercial/industrial use, and its tunnels used to hold storage, or filled in. Rumor has it there are entrances to the GECO’s tunnel system in surviving buildings today but they are hard to find. Businesses move in and, ignorant to the rich, poignant stories that linger under their feet, seal up the old, decrepit tunnels, and with them, a treasured era filled not only with incredible toil and sacrifice, but with the tenacity of the human spirit. Sadly, if you listen closely, you can hear the creaking of old trapdoors closing, ending a unique era, not only in Scarborough, but in Canadian and world history, as well.

7 comments for “Scarborough’s Tunnels

  1. D Boulger
    January 8, 2018 at 1:25 am

    Would love to know if more tunnels or like exist under Toronto. Specifically in and around Weston Rd and Eglintin Ave. Any thought on this?

    • January 9, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Thanks for your inquiry. I am not aware of any tunnels under the Weston and Eglinton area of Toronto. That’s not to say there aren’t any. The tunnel system under Scarborough came as a complete surprise. Only those who needed to know back during the Second World War knew about the tunnels. If you find out about any other tunnels under Toronto, I’d love to hear about it. Good luck! Barbara

  2. Darren Olson
    October 31, 2017 at 4:27 am

    Hi Barbara,

    What a brilliant, informative presentation you gave at Todmorden Legion. I cannot believe the coincidence that I have a storage unit on Manville Road that you showed during your presentation. I have the keys to the entire building, if any one wants to tour these tunnels. Let’s do it soon, I can’t wait to see what’s down there.

    • October 31, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Hi Darren,
      Thanks for your post. I edited out your address and other personal information lest you get swamped by curious people eager to see where you work and gain access to the tunnels. 🙂 I thank you for your willingness to help preserve GECO’s presence in Scarborough. Great opportunities ahead! Barb

  3. Joanne Bush
    August 10, 2017 at 10:15 am

    My Mom, Grace Hardy worked at the munitions plant for a couple of years when she was a young lady. She talked about being bused in from Danforth and Coxwell area and how she worked at the plant between 2 transformers every day. She woke one morning at age 22 and could not hear out of her one ear. Mom believed the cause was working between those transformers every day. I’m hoping to attend the GECO Tour on September 23. Will you have more information soon about the tour?

    • August 13, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Joanne, thanks for your post about your mom Grace working at GECO. I’m sorry to hear she lost her hearing while working there. If you’re in the GTA, I’d love to meet you for a coffee to chat about your mom’s days at GECO. Let me know. Barbara

  4. Nona Sheehan
    January 1, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Just finished reading Bomb Girls after receiving as a Christmas gift. I couldn’t put it down! Not only because of the brilliant and engaging content but also the factual history of Canada’s participation in the munitions war effort. GECO was an amazing accomplishment and apart from what I think a movie should be made… Preserving what’s left of the plant is integral. I live in eastern Ontario and recently just visited the Deifunbunker! C’mon Canada, preserve your past to talk to the future!!

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