Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I debated with myself whether or not to classify the Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, as a memorial. I finally decided that it qualifies as a cold war memorial. I went there, took the tour, and took photographs. As many photographs as you will see here I missed a lot. In addition to that, looking at these photographs will not give you the feeling of being inside that structure. You need to go and visit it for that.

With regard to the photographs here, I have posted them in the order I took them, rather than edit them into a more ordered presentation. I took pictures on the tour with my 18 mm - 50 mm lens. After the tour I changed to my 10 mm - 18 mm lens. As I went about the place on my own I began to feel a little claustrophobic and all I wanted nothing more than to get out. I had mild feelings of this. I can only imagine how people with that phobia would feel in that place.

The Diefenbunker occupies a place west of Carp Road north of Charlie's Lane in Carp, Ontario. For times when the museum is open and admission rates visit the Diefenbunker web site.

The building in the foreground is the local public library. The
smaller building to the right is the entrance to the bunker.


Irreverently known as the "Diefenbunker," this structure is a powerful symbol of Canada's response to the Cold War. Designed in the 1950s to withstand all but a direct hit hy a nuclear weapon, it was intended to shelter key political and military personnel during a nuclear attack. Fortunately, it never served its intended purpose, although the Diefenbaker government made plans to retreat to its protection during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The bunker functioned as the hub of a communications network and civil defnece system until it closed in 1994.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Government of Canada


Surnommée le «Diefenbunker», cette structure est un frappant rappel de la réaction du Canada à la Guerre froide. Conçue durant les années 1950 en vue de résister à tout, sauf à l'explosion de plein fouet d'une ogive nucléaire, elle était destinée à abriter les dirigeants-clés du Canada en cas de cataclysme. Heureusement, elle n'a jamais été utilisée à cette fin, bien que le gouvernment Diefenbaker ait songé à s'y réfugier durant la Crise de Cuba en 1962. Le bunker a servi de centre de communicaiton et de système de défense civile jusqu'à sa fermeture en 1994.

Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada
Gouvernement du Canada

Unearthing the Diefenbunker

Built between 1959 and 1961, the Diefenbunker is an underground facility constructed to house key government and military officials in the event of a nuclear strike on Canada. Designed to withstand a 5 megaton nuclear blast (the same capacity of 5 million tons of TNT) from a distance of 1.8 kilometers (1.118 miles), the massive facility is 9,290 square metres (100,000 square feet) and contains 24,465 cubic metres of concrete (32,000 cubic yards) and over 4,535 metric tonnes (5,000 tons) or rebar.

As the key attraction to museum visitors today, the building itself can overshadow other very important aspects of the site which allowed the Diefenbunker to remain operational duiring a lockdown procedure. Highlighted here are several industrial archaeological features, both above ground and buried, which were vital to the facility's operations throughout the Cold War.

1. Staffed my Military Police the Guard House served as the primary means of security ensuring that only those meant to enter the facility were granted access.

2. Two lagoons, now filled in, were used for sanitary waste management. Each lagoon was 3,600 square metres (38,750 square feet) with depths ranging from 1.5 to 2 metres (5-6 feet).

3. Two wells supplied water to the facility. Both were 94 metres (300 feet) deep and had pumps which could deliver 64 litres (14 gallons) of water per second.

4. An above ground fuel tank fed four underground tanks through gravity. Each of these had a capacity of 45,460 litres (10,000 gallons), and they in turn fed a 52,280 litre (12,000 gallon) storage tank in the Bunker's lowest level.

5. The substation and underground communications vault fed commercial power to the facility.

6. The underground garage is approximately 650 squaare metres (7,000 square feet) and would have housed heavy machinery such as bulldozers for digging out the blast tunnel should it have been rendered impassable after a nuclear detonation.

7. The 55 metre (180 foot) communications tower served as housing for various antennae for communications.

8. Two escape hatches provided alternate exits through tunnels that run approximately 6 metres (20 feet) from the facility to the top of the hill.

9. Originally a construction hut, the All Ranks Mess was converted into a recreation club in 1963 so that soldiers could socialize and hold events outside the facility.

10. The Line Troop Stores Building was also initially used as a construction hut but later served as a storage building.

Découvrez le Diefenbunker

Érigé entre 1959 et 1961, le Diefenbunker est une installation souterraine construite pour résister à une attaque nucléaire et abriter les représentants clés du gouvernement et des autorités militaires, en cas d'attaque nucléaire contre le Canada. Conçue pour résister à une explosion nucléaire de cinq mégatonnes (correspondant à cinq millions de tonnes de TNT), l'imposante installation de 9 290 mètres (100 000 pieds) carrés contient 24 465 mètres (32 000 verges) cubes de béton et de plus 4 535 tonnes métriques (5 000 tonnes) de barres d'armature.

Étant maintenant la principale attraction pour les visiteurs du musée, l'édifice lui-même peut éclipser certains autres aspects importants du site qui permettaient au Diefenbunker de demeurer opérationnel et autonome lors d'un confinement. Les éléments d'archéologie industrielle, souterrains et au-dessus du sol, présentés ici étaient essentiels pour l'opération du lieu pendant la Guerre froide.

1. Opéré par la police militaire, le poste de garde constituait le principal moyen de sécurité car on y veillait à ce que seules les personnes autorisées aient accès au bâtiment.

2. Deux lagons aujourd'hui comblés, servaient à la gestion des déchets sanitaires. Ces lagons de 3,600 mètres (38 750 pieds) carrés étaient d'une profondeur allant de 1,5 à 2 mètres (5 à 6 pieds).

3. Deux puits fournissaient l'eau aux installations. Tous deux d'une profondeur de 94 mètres (300 pieds), ils étaient dotés de pompes qui pouvaient fournir 64 litres (14 gallons) d'eau par seconde.

4. Un réservoir d'essence au sol alimentait quatre réservoirs souterrains par gravité. Ces réservoirs, d'une capacité de 45 460 litres (10 000 gallons) chacun alimentaient à leur tour un réservoir de stockage de 52 280 litres (12 000 gallons) situé au plus bas niveau du Bunker.

5. La sous-station et la voûte de communication souterraine fournissaient l'alimentation électrique aux installations.

6. Le garage souterrain d'une superficie d'environ 650 mètres (7 000 pieds) carrés aurait abrité la machinerie lourde, comme les bulldozeurs servant à dégager le tunnel explosion s'il avait été rendu impraticable après une détonation nucléaire.

7. La tour communication de 55 mètres (180 pieds) abritait diverses antennes de communications.

8. Deux trappes d'évacuation constituaient une voie de sortie alternative par des tunnels d'environ six mètres (20 pieds) de longueur, allant de Bunker au sommet de la colline.

9. Initialement un hangar de construction, le mess intégré a été converti en club de loisirs en 1963 pour que les soldats puissent socialiser et organiser des évènements à l'extérieur de l'installation.

10. L'édifice magasin de la troupe des poseuts en ligne était initialement un hangar de construction et devint par la suite un entrepôt.

Before I went inside on the tour I took a series of pictures of the site outside the bunker, as they are part of the facility.

I so wanted to go up on top and have a closer look at the cylindrical green
structures and whatever else might be up there. I didn't but I did see a tour
group up there. I will probably go back next summer and take pictures of
things I didn't get this time.

In this picture you can see low level power line structure and a satellite
dish. According to my tour guide the ground contours outside the bunker
were aerodynamically designed so that air passes over the bunker with
minimal resistance.

The entrance building provided shelter for those workers
bringing equipment and supplies into the bunker.

I took this to show the green structure that I presume is an air intake.
You can also see the cover over the blast tunnel behind the entrance building.

This is an air raid siren. These were mounted in different locations, such as
schools, post offices and other public structures throughout Canada. They are
very large and, I presume, very loud. When I was in the early grades in school
we had air raid drill almost as frequently as fire drill.

This is the blast tunnel, the only way into the bunker. My camera brightened
up the picture. The tunnel actually looks much gloomier than you see it here.
My initial response to seeing this was, "Holy shit!" This response happened
several times while touring the Diefenbunker.

This is a replica of an early atomic bomb. When I got home and transferred the
picture to my computer I noticed it has a descriptive plaque that I did not
photograph. It's on my to do list for when I go back there.

Accoring to our tour guide the white cylindrical objec with fins on the right
is a real 1 megaton nuclear bomb. Of course, all the working bits inside it
have been removed.

Department of National Defence

Canadian Forces Station


Station des Forces Canadiennes

Ministère de la Défence Nationale

This picture and the ones following it are all under ground in the bunker.
The light you see coming in the window on the left is from an electric light,
not the sun. There are no windows down there.

This picture is of the medical facilities, as are the few that follow. I came
back later with a wide angle lens. Those pictures are further down.

The photograph on the wall shows the upper level, the 400 floor, under
construction. This is in a room with the model that was part of the
bunker's construction. It was used for design and layout of the
structure's components and systems.

The cafeteria is the largest room in the bunker. The floor pattern is designed to
make it appear bigger than it is. The scene on the wall on the left is there in
lieu of a window. This room can be rented for functions but food must be
brought in as the kitchen is no longer usable.

This hallway leads to the Bank of Canada vault where Canada's gold was to be
stored during nuclear activity so that the gold would not become irradiated.
There were some flaws in the plan. One of which was that it would take about
three weeks to transport the gold. The vault door weighs thirty tons and
requires 4 combinations entered by 4 people to open it.

The vault can be rented. Our tour guide, seen here, told us the most recent
rental involved a group that rented it over night to play Dungeons & Dragons.
It has very occasionally been rented out for weddings.

This is a small door to the right of the vault's main door. This door is
opened first to allow the air pressure inside the vault to equalize with
the pressure outside. The camera has made this brighter than it is.

The hanging lights were not an original feature of the vault. The museum
added them to brighten up the room. Again the camera made this look
brighter and cheerier than it actually is.

This space is dedicated to the memory of
all those who suffered and perished in the
cause of freedom and peace during the
Cold War.

Ce lieu est dévoué à la mémoire de
tous ceux et celles qui ont souffert et ont
péri pour la cause de la liberté et de la
paix pendant la Guerre froide.

The Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War
Museum - November 2008

Le Diefenbunker, Musée canadien de la
Guerre froide - novembre 2008

This Cold War memorial plaque is cast in aluminum from an M113A1
armoured personnel carrier which was in service with the Canadian Army
during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The aluminum and the funding to create this plaque were donated by
DEW Engineering & Development of Ottawa

Cette plaque commémorative de la periode de la guerre froide
est moulée en aluminum et provient d'un véhicule blindé de transport
de troupes M113A1 qui était en service avec l'armée canadienne
pendant les années 60s, 70s et 80s.

L'aluminum et les fonds pour créer celle plaque ont été donnés par la
compagnie DEW Engineering & Development d'Ottawa.

The vault is a separate structure inside the main structure. There is a space above
and around it. This picture, and the next two were taken in the surrounding space.

This room was next to the government meeting room. The tour guide didn't
explain it. I am guessing it served as a gallery of sorts for witnessing
what went on in the government meeting room.

This room is where the government would meet during a lockdown crisis. Ideally
the prime minister, the governor general and six other government representatives
would be in attendance. The minimum required would be the prime minister, the
governor general and three representatives. Protocol documents listed the order
of replacement for the prime minister and the governor general.

The clocks in this room are for show. The sweep hands did not move when
I was there. The clocks represent various time zones. The important
clock is the one on the right set to UTC (ZULU). This is universal
coordinated time used by Canadian military (all military actually).
It is independent of any other time system and insures coordination.

This is the computer room. I was able to take more comprehensive
pictures after the tour. I'll get back to this with them.

This is one of the women's sleeping quarters. The men's sleeping quarters
are identical in layout. The room has three bunk beds and sleeps 18. But
there are only six beds. The personnel worked in eight hour shifts and
practiced hot bunking. When one person gets out of the bed, the next
person gets in it. The bed never cools. The bunk is always hot.

Woman's Canadian military uniform of the bunker's time.

These next few pictures are of the prime minister's quarters. The governor
general's quarters were identical and on the floor above. The museaum uses
the governor general's quarters for a different display.

The prime minister's personal secretary's office.

The prime minister's office.

The prime minister's sleeping quarters are the most luxurious in the bunker.

The tour concluded with the prime minister's quarters.

This is the first picture I took after the tour. I used my wide angle
lens. This allowed me to take in whole rooms with one picture. You can
see this tunnel angles upwards at the far end. It continues almost as
far after that. The idea was to direct the blast up and out.

Awards given to the Diefenbunker museum.

The tank model is a Leopard tank as used
by the Canadian military since 1978.

This scale model of the bunker was built by engineers to help
with construction and planning. The model was used by designers
to help judge the space requirements for the large amount of
equipment and ventilation space needed in the bunker.

Cette maquette du bunker a été construite par les ingénieurs
pour aider avec la construction et la planification de
l'édifice. Elle a été particulièrement utile aux planificateurs
qui devaient trouver de la place por les nombreux
équipements et systèmes de ventilation requis au bunker.

La collection du Diefenbunker Collection.

The manequin in the hood represents Igor Gouzenko.

In these furnished quarters a soldier (mannequin) in the uniform worn
during the bunker's utilization as a military base. I took the photograph
through the window on the door of this locked display.

These fold down beds expanded the quarters from housing eighteen soldiers
to twenty-four, or the occupants could fold up the beds providing space
for off duty recreational activity.

This is the first of a more comprehensive set of pictures of the health
centre. The circle with the red triangle and the number 7 corresponds
to a map key. Visitors can get a map of the bunker at the reception
desk at the souvenir shop at the entrance to the bunker.

The computer room has a raised floor. A ramp at either entrance proveds
access. Our tour guide said the museum doesn't have documentation for
the room due to it being secret and has restored it based on memories
of those who used it while operational.

The computing power of this room was less than a current low end cell phone.

A work room just outside the government meeting room.

The bunker's support columns intrude into its hallways. The vertical stripes
on the column are there to provide the optical illusion that the ceilings
are higher than they actually are.

Welcome to CANEX

The Canadian Forces Exchange System (CANEX) is an active retail operation made up of stores and services that meet the unique needs of the military community. Founded as Maple Leaf Services in 1954 and formally christened as CANEX in 1968, its mandate is to ensure that all military families have access to consumer goods and services no matter where they are stationed or posted.

Recreated here to represent the store in the late 1970s, the CANEX at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Carp contributed to employee morale by helping to achieve a sense of normalcy for those stationed at this underground military station. Snacks, toiletries and personal supplies were available for purchase, and services such as dry cleaning and photo printing were provided through outside businesses. With the possibility of a lockdown always looming, simple goods and convenciences such as these would have offered a small level of comfort tot he station's personnel.

The Diefenbunker wishes to thank CANEX, the Diefenbunker Alumni Association, Douglas Beaton, Paul Champion-Demers, Brittany VElla, and the Vella and Manick families for their support in the production of this exhibit.

Bienvenue chez CANEX

Les Économats des forces canadiennes (CANEX) forment un réseau de vente au détail actif composé de magasins et de services répondant aus besoins particuliers de la communauté militaire. Fondé en 1954 comme Maple Leaf Services, et nommé officiellement CANEX en 1968, le magasin a pour mandat de s'assurer que toutes les familles des militaires aient accés aux biens et aux services, peu importe leur lieu d'affectation.

Recréé icie pour représenter le magasin à la fin des années 1970, le CANEX de la Station des forces canadiennes (SFC) Carp soutient le moral des employés en contribuant à créer un semblant de normalité pour les personnes basées à cette station militaire souterraine. Des collations, des produits de toilette et des articles personnels y sont en vente et des services tels que le nettoyage à sec et l'impression de photos sont aussi disponibles en collaboration avec des etnreprises externes. Comme la possibilité d'un confinement commodités comme celles-ci offre un peu de confort au peronnel de la staion.

Le Diefenbunker tient à remercier CANEX, l'Association des anciens du Diefenbunker, Douglas Beaton, Paul Champion-Demers, Brittany Vella, et les familles Vella et Manick pour leur soutien à la production de cette exposition.

At about this point in wandering about the bunker and taking pictures I began
to feel closed in and mildly claustrophobic. The design of the facility to
an extent overcame those feelings but the lower temperature, and limited
spectrum lighting worked against that. More pictures follow, but the
series ends abruptly. I plan on going back next summer for a follow up.

The officers on the base ate in this separate dining area. Personally I feel
that the area outside this room offers a higher level of comfort.

The kitchen's washing area.

Back to the Bank of Canada vault.

This locked door led to a room that contained firefighting equipment. An exit
sign above and to the right shows the stairs that lead out and that's where
I headed next. I will have a part 2 to this next summer.

My Souvenirs

At the gift shop I purchased two mugs and a video on DVD. After debating with myself about showing them here I decided to go ahead.

The mug on the left has a bright yellow interior very close to the yellow of
the nuclear hazard symbol. The one on the right shows the badge for Canadian
Forces Base CARP, which occupied the bunker. Their symbol is Cerebus, the
three headed dog with a snake's tail that guarded the gates of the underworld.

In order to keep the secret of the open secret of this
military base, the Canadian Armed Forces produced this
short film on the construction of the underground
military communications centre. The film is extremely
informative. At no time does it mention that the
facility was intended to house government members.