August 17, 2017


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New light shed on tunnels

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/10/2012 (1764 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s an urban myth that refuses to die—until now.

It’s the one about the tunnel that runs from Union Station on Main Street to the Fort Garry Hotel on Broadway, and underneath the storied Manitoba Club that sits between.

The myth goes the tunnel was sometimes used to smuggle prostitutes into the Manitoba Club.

But there is no tunnel, according to city records, and never was.

All that remains are the faint remnants of a large underground pipe that ran from a plant at The Forks -- now a TV studio -- under Main Street to the hotel. It was used to carry steam heat to keep the hotel warm in winter.

But there’s a ‘but’ in this myth.

There was a tunnel at another train station and another hotel a few blocks north on Main Street.

It ran through the basement of the Canadian Pacific's Royal Alexandra Hotel that once stood on Higgins Avenue.

Blueprints for the hotel, opened in 1906, show a basement corridor that ran from a revolving door on Higgins, down some steps and around the front perimeter of the hotel, down its eastern side and underground towards the train station farther down the block on Higgins.

The tunnel, or corridor, was built to allow train passengers to walk in warmth from the station to the hotel's front desk, roughly a half-a-block walk.

The blueprints to the hotel have been preserved by the City of Winnipeg Archives.

The hotel was torn down in 1971 after sitting virtually empty for several years. The station was closed to passenger rail service in 1978 is now home to the Aboriginal Centre.

We went looking for what if anything remains of that tunnel. Watch the video above to see what we found.


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