August 30, 2013 - 10:10 AM
KAMLOOPS – It's a place many in the city have seen — though likely by sneaking in under the cloak of darkness late at night — and now Tranquille Tunnels will open to the public in a safe and legal way.
The creepy tunnels have long been a destination of teens looking for some truth or dare style excitement and Tim McLeod of Tranquille Farm Fresh admits knowing the site holds such an appeal was part of the reason they started thinking about reopening the tunnels.
“We say, tongue in cheek, half of Kamloops has been here already,” McLeod laughs. “Why not do this legally and have fun with it?”
So they decided to have the tunnels inspected by the building inspector, fire department and insurance company, gather a few actors and recreate the story of the tunnels, as told by factual history and the urban legends that make rounds in the city.
“The truth is more interesting than the urban legends,” McLeod says. “The experience will go from fact to fiction and leave you not knowing what is real.”
The tunnels, which run under the old sanitarium grounds where people sick in body (tuberculosis) and mind once lived, connected the old buildings and gave workers a way to get laundry and food to the patients without having to go outside.
As the tunnel system evolved it connected lower levels of buildings and created an underground village that housed a barbershop, washrooms, staff rooms, office space and even a morgue. They were used until the institution, known to many as Padova or Old Tranquille, closed down nearly 30 years ago. The site has long been a destination of those interested in the paranormal.
While not all the tunnels are used in the tour, about a kilometre of them can be safely traversed. The other couple kilometres or so is made up of smaller tunnels not meant for standing upright in. McLeod refuses to divulge how much of the tunnel system makes up the tour, saying "it's better left up to your imagination."
All tours will take place in the evening. Adding to the dark experience will be low lighting, pictures showcasing other parts of the tunnel system and of course the guides/actors telling the story of the grounds mixed with the urban legends surrounding the old medical institutions.
“It will be sensory experience, it heightens awareness,” McLeod says. “It's an hour long and lots of fun. Lots of learning too.”
Tours start Sept. 6 and can be booked online. McLeod hopes to grow the tour throughout the fall as they learn more about what people want to see and hear. They have used this tactic when developing the many other historical tours held at Tranquille on the Lake.
Because of the pitch black conditions he recommends children (and adults) only come if they are comfortable in extreme darkness. Wheelchairs may be accommodated if staff is alerted ahead of time.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013