British Columbia

Notes from underground: Vancouver man finds 'home, sweet home' in bunker

It has wood-panelled ceilings, a built-in bed and a DVD player — and it’s completely underground.

Mitchell Lagimodiere's hideout was discovered by police this week during an arrest

Mitchell Lagimodiere shows off the tool room in his underground bunker. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

It has wood-panelled ceilings, a built-in bed and a DVD player — and it's completely underground.

Mitchell Lagimodiere devoted about two-and-a-half months of his life to constructing the bunker where he now lives, hidden in a wooded area near East 12th Avenue and Lakewood Drive in Vancouver.

"To me, it's home, sweet home," he told CBC News on Friday. "But the reason I built it, is I was just getting tired of trying to find a place, and just kept on getting the door slammed in my face. The hell with this, I said. I've got skills."

Police discovered Lagimodiere's home on Wednesday morning, after receiving a tip that a man wanted on assault and weapons charges was hiding inside. The wanted man was a friend who'd dropped by to visit, Lagimodiere said, but he maintains he didn't know about the warrant.

A police dog helped locate the bunker, which officers described as "elaborate."

Now the bunker is more or less public knowledge.

"I figured I'd be not caught for a long time, but then people started hanging around me because they thought it was cool," Lagimodiere said.

Trained as a carpenter, he started work on the project this summer, when the nights started to get cooler.

"I says, I'm not going to freeze my ass off. I know how to get warm," he said.

"It started out just with a shovel …. I wouldn't quit. I was working sometimes 18 hours a day, just digging that."

Mitchell Lagimodiere shows CBC's Farrah Merali his DVD player. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

The ground in the area is primarily clay, so the work was hard, but it also gave Lagimodiere a more stable surface to carve out his walls and floors. He hardened the surfaces with a heater, and then used a leveller to make sure the ceiling was even, before nailing on the wood panelling.

"In my mind, I knew exactly how it was going to look. And it came out exactly how I thought," Lagimodiere said.

He attached a DVD player to the ceiling, which he powers with a converter, and hung mirrors throughout to reflect any light, hoping to brighten the space.

The bunker has also a dedicated room for his tools with a partial hardwood floor. He hopes to install carpet in the living room and around the built-in bed, if he gets a chance.

Lagimodiere keeps a fire extinguisher over the bed where he sleeps. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

But now that the hideout has been discovered, he thinks it's likely that chance has passed and he'll be told to leave.

"I'll just move out and turn around and build another one somewhere else," he said. "They're not hard to build if you've got the knowledge."

Lagimodiere showed off his work to the CBC's Farrah Merali.

"Home, sweet home": A tour of a Vancouver man's hidden bunker

5 years ago
Duration 2:04
Mitchell Lagimodiere shows CBC around the bunker he built himself, furnished with wood-panelled ceilings, a built-in bed and a DVD player.