What do you get when a deconstructionist joins the mafia ?

An offer you can't understand.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Desert Inn Stories: the tunnels

There is an urban legend in Guelph regarding tunnels and the old Desert Inn (originally the Paradise Gardens.) The Inn was built in 1946, right after WWW2 and the takeover of Ontario organized crime by the American Sicilian La Cosa Nostra. Guelph came under the sway of Buffalo's LCN boss Stefano "The Undertaker" Magaddino through the help of Guelph's Calabrian 'ndrangheta boss Tony Sylvestro and the Sicilian-Canadian Cipollas.
The Desert Inn/Paradise Gardens hosted some of the most important American jazz acts, many of whose careers were controlled by New York mobsters. The legendary tunnels were said to have run between the Inn and Imperial Tobacco, and between the Inn and the Woodlawn Cemetery mausoleum.
Magaddino was known as The Undertaker because he owned a funeral parlour in Lewistown, New York, and is credited with having invented the double decker casket as a way of getting rid of unwanted bodies that would never resurface.
The alleged Imperial Tobacco tunnel would have obviously been used for smuggling cigarettes, a completely feasible scenario given how much we now know about the role of Big Tobacco in recent cigarette smuggling activities, while the tunnel into the mausoleum would have allegedly been used to transfer bodies into one of Magaddino's caskets, desecrating the cemetery in the process.
Guelph Hydro crews are rumoured to have come across the tunnels in the mid 1960's; at which time the City Council allegedly ordered them closed. Since Tony Sylvestro died in 1963, the same year that Charles Cipolla went to jail on a heroin trafficking charge (he died in the Kingston Pen in 1969) the shift in the local balance of mob power would have occurred around the same time. Certainly the tunnel-rumours are known around Guelph, I've heard them mentioned in several quarters.
Presumably the recent road work would have turned up evidence of their existence.
The question is, did the tunnels actually exist ? Anyone who has stories or proofs is welcome to contact me privately via my gmail account above, or by commenting on this post.

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