Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – You likely wouldn’t know it as you walk the streets of Moose Jaw in south-central Saskatchewan, but there is a labyrinth of tunnels beneath the pavement.
The tunnels were constructed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s so that building staff could move from one building to another keeping furnaces going, without having to go outdoors in the frigid winter weather.
The early history of the tunnels is quite sad. Chinese migrants moved into them and became the city’s subterranean society. They lived and worked in this underground world, providing cheap labour in laundry and sewing burlap bags for farmers. They were paid as little 35 cents an hour, and slept three to a bunk bed, with the cost of their accommodation being deducted from those meger earnings. Up until it became illegal in 1908, one of their few forms of relief was opium. You can see today a reconstruction of their living quarters, including opium den.
The business managers knew of the the Moose Jaw tunnels but the general public did not.
Then along came prohibition. Canada stopped it long before the U.S. and Moose Jaw became a hub for rum-runners and gangsters. This is the period Al Capone is said to have spent time here, and although there were several reports by people who said they saw him, no photographs or documentation exists. Capone is said to stated “I don’t even know what street Canada is on”. You can learn more about these eras on two tours of the tunnels, which feature live actors and animated mannequins. One focuses on the sad Chinese history and the other on the colourful Capone connection.
Have you taken the Al Capone tour? What do you think? Please share…
Tunnels Of Moose Jaw, 18 Main St N Moose Jaw