Many years ago, I somehow ended up in an internet rabbit hole, learning about an escaped convict by the name of Percy Moggey.
The story goes something like this. Percy Moggey escaped from Stony Mountain Penetentiary in 1960 and simply disappeared. No one knew where Moggey was, and Manitobans were on edge. Apparently he was a violent person, so the idea of this violent criminal being out and about (somewhere, anywhere… perhaps nearby!) freaked out a lot of people.
Turns out, Moggey had made his way deep into the woods north of Eriksdale, and there he built a little hideaway for himself.
In addition to cabin-building skills, Moggey also possessed locksmithing skills. (That’s how he escaped from Stony Mountain in the first place.) So, he created keys for various Eriksdale businesses, and at night he would sneak into town and take what he needed.
Moggey lived this way undetected for ten and a half months, until his new lifestyle came to a crashing halt.
Several Indigenous women were digging seneca roots deep in the forest, and encountered a strange man. They naturally asked him what he was doing there. He told them that he was hunting. The women figured this was a pretty fishy story since it wasn’t even hunting season, so they reported the man to the police. The RCMP heeded their advice and headed out into the woods, recapturing Percy Moggey, and putting an end to his ten and a half month holiday.
Afterward, folks were fascinated by the tale of his survival and capture and began visiting the little cabin and taking pieces of it. Mementos.
It all kinda faded from memory, until one day in the 1990s, some Eriksdale Chamber of Commerce folk were discussing Moggey. Recalling the story reignited their curiosity, and they decided to see if the could find the cabin after all these years. And they did! After all that memento-taking in the 1960s, only a foot or two of the walls remained. No problem! The gents set about rebuilding the cabin on the original site (presumably using the remaining base of the cabin), and today it serves as a sort of tourist draw for the community of Eriksdale.
When I first read about Moggey I was under the impression it was very difficult to find the cabin. Naturally this only made me want to see it more. However, we never go to Eriksdale. It’s kind of far away, in the Interlake. So I let it go and never told Andrew about my “dream” of finding Moggey’s cabin. But at the back of my mind, I never forgot about this weird story.
The other day we were returning from our northern vacation. We were approaching Eriksdale.
I spied a sign — “Moggey’s Cabin” — and the story came flooding back to me. I revealed my dream of seeing Moggey’s cabin to Andrew, I told him the story, and he agreed that we should try to find the cabin. So, even though it was already 7:30pm, we left the highway and raced down the gravel road in the direction of Moggey’s Cabin.
We had just about given up on finding it when we finally saw a sign pointing into the woods:
The mosquitoes were out for blood, but we could not take our Jetta onto the nearly non-existent path.
We ran into the darkening woods and began hacking our way toward the cabin. I don’t think anyone’s been down that path yet this year! It sure didn’t look like it.
Just when we were thinking the mosquitoes (or bears) were gonna kill us and it was completely ridiculous that we were even making this impulsive attempt, THERE IT WAS!
It’s unlocked! Let’s take a look inside.
I don’t think these items are original, but they give you an idea of how Moggey lived (through the winter!) here.
It’s funny how this has been a dream of mine. I mean, it’s here in Manitoba, it’s free to visit, all you have to do is get yourself there by driving a few hours. But even so, I didn’t think I’d ever see it. But I did! So happy.
Here are some links that we found helpful and informative:
Shaw TV Feature (she interviewed locals, which I found quite valuable)
Over the Prison Wall (I have not read this book, but it exists!)