The homes of Walnut Court, shortly to made more exciting by the City’s 2000 /day bus detour, are on the site of a former brewery, Bradings (later O’Keefe’s). On the north side of Albert, now a vacant lot, stood the Longest Building in the British Empire, which made undersea cables.
Once the undersea cable market died out, the brewery stored finished product in the warehouse. For convenience, they dug a low tunnel from the brewery, under Albert, to the warehouse. The warehouse itself did not have a full basement.
This tunnel has long been fabled to contain leftover Beer, miraculously not gone stale, and a (train) “engine” to haul it on tracks through the tunnel.
WSA first reported on the Beer Tunnel when we published the Treasure Map to the Beer Tunnel, here: https://www.westsideaction.ca/?s=treasure+map. That story has a schematic of the tunnel and other trivia, and a (possibly dead) link to a Ottawa Citizen story on the subject of the Lost Tunnel.
For days, work crews have been digging westward from Preston, along Albert (formerly Wellington…) to install new sewers. I didn’t imagine they would lay the new sewers over a void or hollow space where there is an old tunnel of unknown condition. Not with the recent cave in at the eastern portal of the LRT so fresh in our minds.
Here’s where they were digging:
And here is the view back towards Walnut Court:
Funny enough, the tunnel appears to originate under the house of a certain local politician. Who knew aspiring councillors had bolt-hole tunnels to their basements? Doesn’t everyone?
The alignment of the new storm sewer runs right through the Beer Tunnel at floor level, beside the jersey barriers that separate the remaining driving lanes on Albert from the construction site.
So, keeping a careful eye out, watching progress … and this morning, July 2nd, contractors broke into the Fabled Lost Beer Tunnel of LeBreton Flats. What did they find??!!
Here’s the view of the Tunnel as crews rip off the ceiling, revealing a smoke and dust-filled aperture:
Here the view INSIDE looking south, towards Walnut Court, where the tunnel sloped downwards, and is filled with water and other uckky things:
And here is the view north, towards the Flats, where the tunnel end has been nicely bricked up:
Notice the lack of fresh, cold Beer.
Or Historic Bradings Brewery Bottles.
Or the sprawled out skeleton of that worker who wanted one last cold one.
Or the Little Engine that Could(n’t).
Of course, humans of the There Must be A Pony in Here Somewhere School of Optimism, hope the little engine might be buried in that water and it will be recovered, when the south side of Albert is dug up in a few months.
Never fear, we’ll be there to check it out.
Note: civilians etc are not supposed to be on construction sites, and I would never trespass or break the rules, so the tunnel hole and two inside photos must be credited to Luc Foley, the City Engineer on the Albert project. Thanks also to Ravi Mehta, also City Engineer on the project. The Bradings bottle image I found on the ‘net.