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The Lost Tunnel of Leechtown, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Some time in the 1950's, a gold prospector named Ed Mullard  made a startling discovery near the deserted gold rush town of Leechtown, on Vancouver Island, about 25 miles from Victoria.
One evening, when Ed Mullard was hunting deer, forcing his way through waist high vegetation, he suddenly found himself descending a stair case hewn from the mountain rock and facing an oblong or arched (depending on source) entrance into a sheer cliff face. Descending the stairs and entering the tunnel, he found himself in a long manmade gallery carved from the solid rock.
At the end of the gallery was another large carved arch that Mullard reportedly likened to those that you might see in a church. Moving further into the gallery, Mullard saw that beyond the arch were more steps descending into a another large manmade gallery. Walking down the steps into the second gallery, Mullard found himself ankle deep in water, but by match light could see another arch and a third gallery through the gloom in front him.
Above: Vancouver Island as seen from space. Images courtesy of NASA.
Above: Vancouver Island as seen from space. Images courtesy of NASA.
Mullard reportedly claimed that chisel marks were still clearly visible on the steps and the arches, and also that they were clearly of great age.
Sources differ considerably on what happened next (in fact, sources differ on just about every aspect of this story, as is the case with all great treasure mysteries), some say that while exploring the man made galleries he found:
- tools, weapons and artefacts that may have been Spanish in origin, or
- that he found one or more gold ingots, or
- that the things he found inside, tools and pottery, were unquestionably Chinese in origin.
Some say he found nothing at all.
After leaving the tunnel, Ed memorized its location and returned to his camp. Knowing that he may have difficulty locating his discovery again he left a trail of marks on trees (said to be his initials, 'EM') to help him relocate the tunnel entrance amongst the thick foliage.
Once he returned to civilization he told the tale of the mystery tunnel to many people, but he did not reveal its exact location to anybody. The Colonist newspaper agreed to fund an expedition to return to the tunnel in 1959, Mullard said he would be happy to lead the members of the party to the tunnel, but he died before the expedition took place, taking the exact location of the tunnel to his grave.
Despite several attempts to locate the Lost Tunnel of Leechtown, it has never been seen since the fateful day that Ed Mullard stumbled across it.
Leechtown, Jordan Meadows and Victoria Folklore
Vancouver Island certainly seems to be rich in folklore, particularly legends about an early Spanish occupation of the island. Here are a few more bits of local folklore possible connected to the lost tunnel:
Jordan Meadows is reputedly home to a mystery bronze cannon (some sources say a Spanish bronze cannon) that has apparently been seen many times by hunters and prospectors travelling through the area, none of whom were ever able to relocate it when they wanted to show it to somebody or attempt to salvage it.
A legend very similar to the above cannon story is the bronze tablet or plaque that has supposedly been seen in the same area many times, attached to, or though growth become part of, a tree. Again, it seems that those who see this bronze tablet or plaque are never able to relocate it.
Rumours that a Spanish monastery existed in the area have reportedly persisted for many years. Some have linked the tunnel to the monastery legend; that the tunnel may have been the monastery (or, at very least, a part of it), or that those that built the rumoured monastery were also responsible for carving the tunnel. However, I have not heard of any hard evidence to support the existence of an early Spanish monastery anywhere on Vancouver Island, but it has been reported that Spanish artefacts have been found in the area.
Rumours that a gold prospector working in the Leechtown or Jordan Meadows area found some Spanish swords and armour. [see update below]
Cannon Wreck Off Vancouver Island?
Sightings of a cannon wreck have been reported off the southern coast of Vancouver Island, we are trying to find more information about the location.
Help! Looking for Sources on the Lost Tunnel of Leechtown, Ed Mullard or Any Spanish Legends Associated With the Area
I am trying to track down books, newspaper reports, magazine articles or any information about the Lost Tunnel of Leechtown or any information about finds of Spanish or Chinese artefacts on Vancouver Island, particularly in the area around Victoria/Leechtown. If you have any information please email me.
I first read about the lost tunnel of Leechtown in Treasure Hunting magazine in (I think) the mid 1980's, does anybody know exactly which issue the story appeared in?
Since posting this story I have been contacted by quite a few people who have visited or worked in the area and some interesting stories and leads have come up.
Jeff Bucove, a gold prospector exploring the Leechtown and Jordan Meadows area, has some very interesting information on the legend, some of which you can read on his web site here [dead link, will update if the site becomes available again]. The Anecdotal History section of that page should be of great interest to anyone researching the lost tunnel of Leechtown, or anybody interested in the Spanish occupation legends.
If you were one of the people who contacted me about the lost tunnel of Leechtown, please drop me an email, I lost a lot of email messages and addresses recently and I want to get in touch with everybody interested in the Leechtown story to arrange an online get together, either in an online chat room or a discussion over at the metal detecting forum so we can swap stories and information.
Update: I've recently received an email that says a Spanish sword and helmet was found near the Liener river at the head of the Tahsis inlet on the west coast of Vancouver island in the early 70's. This kind of thing would certainly make it into, at very least, the local media. Does anybody have any press cuttings or further information about the sword and helmet? The very wet rainforest climate of the area makes the survival of iron artifacts quite surprising, but certainly not impossible.
Update 15/09/2014 - A chap called David has emailed me some new infomation about Spanish finds on Vancouver island: "I spoke to a man who told me that when bulldozing a trail beside a river in Sooke (I know the river but the name escapes me at the moment) he found the metal workings of an ancient rifle, identified as Spanish. An old Spanish sword was found in the Goldstream estuary a number of years ago. Another source told me of finding a blunderbus in a collapsed building in the Highlands district of Victoria long before the area was developed. In the watershed there was found a grave mound with the skeleton of a horse on top, identified as Spanish. There are probably lots of ancient Spanish things on the island as they were here for several hundred years of which we have virtually no record." Thank you for the information, David!
 Some sources say that Mullard was not alone when he found the cave, but that his prospecting partner, 'McLaren,' was also present, but did not enter the cave.
 The first recorded Spanish expedition to the island, prompted by the rumoured incursion of Russian fur traders, occurred in 1774, a second expedition came the following year, although neither vessels are thought to have landed on the island. The first known Spanish settlement on Vancouver island, Fort San Miguel, was established in 1789.
- Article from The Times Newspaper, Victoria, British Columbia on Sept. 21, 1969 (dead link, will update if the article becomes available again)