Many of the world's major cities boast extensive underground tunnel networks. London has one of the largest and most secretive underground tunnel systems in the world. New York City has secret tunnels too, Paris has 100s of miles of quarries, while Los Angeles has old speakeasy tunnels beneath its streets.

Toronto in Canada is no different. Toronto is the largest city in Canada and one of the largest in North America. They boast their "Path". Path is a network of underground pedestrian tunnels, and elevated walkways connecting the office towers of Downtown Toronto. In addition, there are a few other scattered tunnels around the greater city from the war and from other businesses and purposes.


Toronto's Large Path Network

The Path's history dates back to 1900 when the Eaton's department store constructed a tunnel beneath James Street for shoppers to walk between the Eaton's main store and Easton's Annex. This was the first underground pedestrian pathway in Toronto, today it is still part of the Path system.

Over the years the Path system grew and expanded, this is continuing in the 21st century. In 2011 the City of Toronto released a long-term expansion plan for the network. There will be 45 new entry points and the walkway will ultimately be expanded to as long as 60 kilometers or 37 miles.

  • Expansion Plan: Total Length 60 Kilometers or 37 Miles

In total, Path tunnels and other walkways stretch for 30 kilometers or 19 miles underground connecting over 70 buildings. The Guinness World Records declares that Path is the largest underground shopping complex in the world.

The network provides connections between major commuter stations. It also networks Canada's five largest banks and 1,200 retail spots. Over 200,000 workers and residents in the city use the Path system every day. Many residential homes are also within walking distance of them.

Path Today:

  • Length: 30 Kilometers or 19 Miles
  • Buildings Connected: 70-80 Buildings
  • Largest: Underground Shopping Complex
  • Usage: 200,000-250,000 People Daily

Today the Path system is continuing to grow. Two towers being built as part of the CIBC Square are going to be linked to the Path system.

The Pathway in Toronto has its own unified wayfinding system throughout the network that was adopted in 1987. It is a color-coded system with directions cues. There is a Path system map and cardinal directions. At certain junctions, one will find color-coded ceiling signs. Still many complain that the system is hard to navigate.

Coding System:

  • South: Letter P - Color - Red
  • West: Letter A - Color - Orange
  • North: Letter T - Color - Blue
  • East: Letter H - Color - Yellow

In the winter it becomes a popular shelter and refuge from Toronto's freezing winters. It can also be a sanctuary in the hot humid summer.

Official information and maps of the Path system can be found on the City of Toronto's official website.

Related: There's An Abandoned Subterranean City & Tunnel System Under Seattle, And Yes, You Can Visit

Other Hidden or Secret Tunnels Under Toronto

While the Path system is the largest and most well-known, it is not the only one of Toronto's tunnels. There are a handful of other hidden tunnels that exist or used to exist under Toronto. Many people in Toronto will be familiar with the 800-foot tunnel connecting Casa Loma to its stables. But there are others as well. There's the used underground streetcar stop beneath Queen and Younge at the Lower Queen Station.

  • Other Tunnels: A Used Station, Classified Tunnels at Casa Loma, Tunnels Under The Psychiatric Hospital

Over at the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital that was built in 1884, there is a "cottage system" of small buildings instead of one big building, and a network of tunnels connects these buildings. Then there are tunnels linking the Royal York Hotel and Union Station with the railway.

Related: Are There Really Tunnels Under New York City? This Is What We Know

War Tunnels Under Scarborough

There may also be more than 4 kilometers of abandoned tunnels beneath Scarborough in Toronto. It was built by the General Engineering Company (Canada) munitions plant during World War Two. The plant and its tunnels were constructed very quickly and were one of the top-secret plants of the war. The plant produced over 256 million munitions for the Allied Forces.

  • Length: 4 Kilometers or 2.5 Miles
  • War: Built During World War Two

The tunnels housed its water, electricity, steam, and compressed air lines so that the plant could operate around the clock and that the production would not be interrupted if there was an explosion in one for workshops.

One can read more about the other tunnels under Toronto at Heritage Toronto and BlogTo.

Unlike the tunnels of London, the tunnels under Toronto are not nearly as large or mysterious. But they are still awesome and there are other smaller tunnels and tunnel systems in the city that remain a mystery.

Next: An Entire 'Escape' Tunnel System Still Exists Under Berlin, With Decades Of History Behind Its Creation