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Journal: TGH Steam Tunnels

Travelling through the pipe-choked tunnels required a great deal of climbing and crawling.
Toronto General Steam Tunnels (November 2002): Following up on earlier explorations, I made a few further visits to the recently abandoned Charlie Conacher Research Wing at Toronto General Hospital to probe its newly discovered depths. On each trip I made, the wing was further sealed up: temporary cinder block walls began to appear to block off all access, doors began to be nailed shut and more and more "DANGER due to: demolition" signs began to appear. It's still quite easy to get in, it just requires increasingly roundabout routes and improved precautions.
      On the first trip back, Harpocrates and I headed past the basement's "do not enter" signs, equipped with a map to the wing's former hyperbaric chamber as a credibility prop. Though first a security guard and then a shiny new wall threatened to impede our progress, we valiantly pushed forward and downward until we found ourselves back at the easternmost end of the steam tunnels. We hopped up into the unusually pipe-filled tunnels, and crouched, crawled and climbed our way west as best we could. Every now and then we'd come to a huge chaos of pipes that looked like an insurmountable barrier; through trial and error, we determined which sequences of squeezing under and climbing over were best suited to each individual problem. It was very slow going, and very hot. We found several mechanical rooms (where we could take a much-needed crouching break) and off-shoot tunnels, and managed to make our way into the basement of the otherwise very secure Max Bell wing (in which animal testing is conducted), before coming to a new exit from (and potential entrance to) the tunnels. Here we decided to call it a night, in part because I'd accidentally burned my hand on a pipe. Some ninja, I know.

While some of the pipes in the tunnel had long been out of use, others were very fresh and hot.
      But some of those pipes had been labelled "To Banting and Best", and if these tunnels were going to go to the University of Toronto, they could be damned sure I was coming with them. Though Sean and I had to get around a few new barricades when we went back a few days later, we had no real trouble getting back to the point where Harpocrates and I had left off. We crawled under the huge pipes blocking the entrance and headed west. Being tempted by an unlit but slightly less crowded tunnel branching off from the one we were in, we headed south for a while, eventually finding some empty rooms and some tunnels we could actually stand up in. Here we also found a door leading out to the largely abandoned basement of the Muloch Larkin wing, where we investigated old, mostly empty carpentry, mechanical, electrical and painting shops for a while, until we heard some voices and retreated to the tunnels. After touring the entirity of the southern tunnel system and its associated mechanical rooms, we headed back to the main tunnel and pressed on to the west.
This small "computer lab" at the end of the tunnels had only two exits — one through the floor, and one through the roof.
      Even as we heard the subway rumbling by just a short distance ahead of us, however, the much-feared light at the end of the tunnel appeared, all too soon, indicating that these tunnels weren't going to take us as far as UofT. Before long, we spilled out into a partially flooded mechanical room, and from here climbed up two levels (through two very loud metal trapdoors) to return to ground level. There was more to see — there always is — but the trapdoors had made so much noise that Sean thought we'd be better off if we called it a night, so we headed out into the rainy evening.

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