Archive for the ‘Cold War’ Category

Picture this: it’s 1960, you’re 19 years old and you’ve just been appointed as Canada’s youngest radar technician and you’re now on your way to spend the next three years in the freezing cold Artic Circle. Sounds like a pretty exciting adventure, right? Well, have we got a story for you!

Join us at the Bunker on Thursday April 12, 2018 at 7:00pm to hear the real-life adventures of Bunker volunteer, Brian Jeffrey, as he shares his experience working on the Distant Early Warning Radar Line (DEWLine) in the Artic. From polar bear hunting, off-the clock hi-jinks, and dealing with bogies, Brian saw it all and he wants to share it with you! 

Hear history come alive for one evening only, right here at the Diefenbunker. Don’t miss “Adventures from the Coldest Part of the Cold War”! Tickets are only $6.00 and can be purchased through the Eventbrite link here (here) 



High-security Zone

Agent ‘H’

January 11, 2018


Agent ‘X’:

Status Report: Mission Success.

Integration into my new assignment at the Diefenbunker was successful. I have established my identity as intern Agent ‘H’. I have been granted full access to the Bunker and archives.

In accordance with mission perimeters I will thoroughly document all classified operations and report details to you directly. All information contained in my mission briefs should be considered ‘Top Secret’ and handled in accordance with proper security protocols.

Orientation provided the opportunity to observe the machine room which remains operational. Hazards were present as the floor surfaces were often uneven, ceilings low and visibility limited in many sectors. Infiltration of the machine room is not advisable under current conditions. The machinery is uniquely structured to withstand direct impact, with generators being mounted to spring boards allowing movement to occur in case of ground impact. Venting also includes accordion style structures allowing the venting to shift and contract. As a result, a direct assault on the Bunker from ground level will likely have little impact on power and internal operations.

Further reports to follow once more information has been acquired.

Agent ‘H’

ofdFather’s Day

By: Julie Beun

It’s not top secret and won’t involve any real commandos, but Operation Father’s Day will see the Diefenbunker overrun with the Royal Canadian Dragoons and some of the rarest Cold War vehicles ever seen.

Aimed at both raising money for the Cold War museum and the Guild of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the event will also feature an unprecedented display of Cold War vehicles, including the ultra-rare Volvo Sugga, an unusual Swedish military based on that country’s iconic taxi cabs.

Families will also have a chance to ride on a few of the vehicles, grab a tour of the museum, buy food and enjoy beer brewed by the Big Rig Brew Pub, owned by Ottawa Senators’ Chris Phillips. Children can get involved too: the Dragoons will be running a special Kiddy Commando course, to put kids through their paces in a mock-military training camp. There will also be live Cold War era music by Adrian Butts through TETRA Speakers.

“It was a natural fit to have a partnership between the Dragoons and the Cold War Collection,” says Diefenbunker marketing manager, Megan Lafrenière.

“It’s a great chance for families to come and spend Father’s Day, and to recognize the contribution of the men and women who have served our country.”

The Diefenbunker, located at 3929 Carp Road, is a four-storey, 300 room, 100,000 square foot underground bunker built in secrecy at the height of Cold War tensions with the former USSR, between 1959 and 1961. It was named for then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, after a journalist exposed the existence of the complex. It was decommissioned in 1994.

These days, more than 48,000 visitors come through the famous blast tunnel for tours, says Lafrenière. “At Doors Open Ottawa, we’re the most popular site…thousands of people come out to Carp. We’re hoping that Father’s Day will be a similar event.”

The event is co-hosted by the Cold War Collection, Guild of the Royal Canadian Dragoons and Star Motors.

Event: Operation Father’s Day

Cost: $15 per person or $40 for a family of five. Children under six are free.

Includes: A military-themed tour of the bunker, rides on vehicles, exclusive and rare Cold War vehicle display, Kiddy Commando Course with prizes, music and access for food and beverages.

For more information, contact Megan Lafrenière, 613 839 0007. Tickets are available through or at the Diefenbunker.

20140423_114319smWith over 100 artworks to hang, we have been very busy at the Diefenbunker installing our inaugural artist-in-residence exhibition in preparation for its launch on Saturday, April 26th.

To warn other Canadians is the outcome of Gatineau-based artist Gail Bourgeois’ six month artist residency at the Diefenbunker. During this time, Gail was given exclusive access to the100 000 sq. ft. bunker, the museum collection and its archives. Invited to respond to this engineering marvel, its historical significance and its present function as a community museum, Gail developed a series of unique works that explore an overarching theme of communication.

Rather than use the bunker’s more traditional gallery spaces, Gail preferred an exhibition that allowed her to engage with the architecture, dispersing works throughout the four levels of the building as interventions into the already existing museum displays. “The works will foster alternative interpretations of the bunker and give visitors a chance to think about the issues raised by the displays in another way”.

As if to share with visitors her experience of getting to know the bunker, Gail also created a map that informs and guides visitors from floor to floor and room to room to discover her installations, alerted as well by the addition of a “logo” at the door to each exhibition room to announce an artistic intervention.­­

To warn other Canadians presents a very thoughtful perspective on this remarkable institution and the history it holds, and the Diefenbunker is proud to present this first exhibition of its inaugural artist-in-residence program.


Note: In addition to an artist-led tour of the exhibition on opening day, Gail will offer monthly public tours. For updates, please visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Diefenbunker started off strong in 2014 with a new website, new initiatives and a new vision for the year. Winter escaped us underground, and now – Spring has sprung and we’re sprouting new events like the grass above. April will close with a clever Easter Egg Hunt in our 100,000 sq/ft venue (talk about rewarding when you find the golden [chocolate] eggs!) on Saturday April 19th. This is for the young and young at heart. This event is included in the price of admission so come armed with your favourite colourful basket and pretend you’re a bunny super sleuth!

The following weekend on April 26th, we welcome for the next 6 months our resident artist, Gail Bourgeois and 125 of her cold war storytelling pieces that will be on display throughout our entire complex until the Fall. She tells a unique visual story, layering newspaper clippings, advertising and other imagery from the cold war era. “To warn other Canadians” is a title borrowed from something said by tour guide and museum Collections Manager, Doug Beaton: The bunker was put here to warn other Canadians. This refers to the role the bunker played in housing elements of the federal government in the event of a nuclear attack. Join Gail for a special tour of the facility described through the eyes of an artist.  Monthly tours are also planned so look to our website for updates.

May starts off with our first installment for this year’s Cold War Lecture Series: Canadian Cold War Submarine Patrols on May 8th. Join Commander (Ret’d) Robert Bush as he discusses the planning and execution of Canadian Cold War patrols, including some personal observations and other declassified examples of the interesting and exciting aspects of these operations. The presentation will concentrate on the Cold War period of Canadian submarine operations, during which time he served in the submarines of Canada, the UK and Australia.

On May 11th, to celebrate the mom’s of our community, we’re hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch & Tour. We’re inviting moms and their families of all ages to celebrate Mother’s Day like never before. Enjoy a buffet brunch in the Bank of Canada Vault, let the kids have an explosion of fun in Spy HQ and have a blast exploring our beautiful facility on our special women’s history themed tour. It’s sure to be a day to remember.

And finally in May we’re welcoming the long weekend by bringing back our Cold War Cinema event with a  Bond themed movie night underground. Join us for popcorn and a handsome man of mystery on our big-screen. Will it be a classic with Moore or Connery? Or something just as charming but with more gadgets like with Brosnan or Craig? We’re currently putting our feelers out to our social media community to see which movie is a fan favourite to play that night. Place your vote on our Facebook page or tweet us your suggestion!

The summer months are just as exciting with our annual “Doors Open” event, a huge and soon to be released Father’s Day event and Summer Spy Camp! With new details being populated every day, please visit our website often for complete details of all these events and information about the Diefenbunker.

Lest We Forget

On November 11th, staff, volunteers, and visitors will gather in our Building Peace exhibit to honour our veterans for Remembrance Day. As Canada’s Cold War Museum, we have a unique responsibility to those who fought in Cold War conflicts, in Canada and beyond.

In many ways, the Diefenbunker stands as a monument to the peaceful resolution of the Cold War – the fact that it was decommissioned in 1994 symbolizes the de-escalation of Cold War tension. The Diefenbunker is, in many ways, a symbol of all that we can learn from the Cold War in diplomacy, civil courage, and international relations.

We must not forget that there were hot spots in the otherwise Cold War that saw members of the Canadian Forces in active service, at home and abroad. The employees of Canadian Forces Station Carp, for example, were prepared to spend 30 days in lockdown here, in the Diefenbunker, to help preserve our government and work to aid the rest of the country in the event of a nuclear attack. Their dedication, selflessness, and bravery are what we honour today, on Remembrance Day, at the Diefenbunker.

The act of remembrance is not only focused on the past. In remembering, we are committed to learning from the past for our future. This is the aim of the peace theme we have adopted this year. We have looked at the past, with the making of 1,000 paper cranes in August, the present, with the Building Peace exhibit launch and International Peace Day in September, and now we will focus on how remembrance leads us to create peace for the future.

Please join us on November 11th, at 10:40am, in our Bank of Canada Vault.

army_runWe’re proud to announce that the Diefenbunker has been awarded a cheering station at the 2013 Army Run, Sunday September 22. We will be making noise in support our Canadian Armed Forces and its veterans.

WE ARE CHEERING STATION #7  on McKenzie Avenue at the south entrance to Major’s Hill Park.

We will be holding signs like “Quit Stalin” and “Keep Calm and Diefenbunk-On!”  while dancing to Cold War Era music and competing against 8 other teams for the grand prize of $3000!

So come out and join on our Cold War Era themed team and help us beat out the competition with – the loudest voices, brightest costumes and most creative signs you can come up with!

All winnings will go towards planning our Remembrance Day Event.

Have questions? Need directions? Don’t hesitate to ask!

Or check out the Army Run Charity Cheering Stations Website for more information.

Papercraneposter_1Yesterday marked a somber anniversary. Sixty-eight years ago today, on August 6, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, on August 9, the second detonated on Nagasaki, Japan. This event often marks the end of the Second World War, and in many minds it is also the beginning of the Cold War.

Today we begin our season of peace. For the next four months, the Diefenbunker will host three events on the theme of peace.

From August 6-10, we will be making Paper Cranes for Peace, honoring the story of the 1,000 paper cranes. The purpose of this event is to discuss what we can learn about peace by looking to the past.

The 1,000 paper cranes will join contributed pieces from local artists in an exhibition entitled Building Peace, which will launch on September 14, 2013, just ahead of International Peace Day. The exhibition, in partnership with One World Dialogue will ask the question: How do we build and create a ‘culture of peace’ as we move into the future? It will focus on the steps we take in the present to discuss, reflect and create peace.

The final event is our Remembrance Day ceremony in November, which will focus on the act of remembrance as a means to let the events of the past inform our future.

With these three events, and corresponding programs for youth and families, we will look at peace from three perspectives: past, present, and future. We invite our community – local, national and international – to join us in reflecting on the concept of peace: what it means, how we can create it, and the role it plays in our lives.

In the Bunker’s Shadow

Posted: April 26, 2013 in Cold War

By Jesse Alexander

It’s been three years since I left the Diefenbunker, but the bunker hasn’t left me. After a fun-filled (if sunlight-starved) tenure as Public Relations and Programs Manager, I moved to Europe and haven’t been able to shake my Cold War passion yet. Today, dozens of countries later, I can say that in all my travels I’ve never seen anything quite like the Diefenbunker. Carp’s hidden labyrinth is certainly one-of-a-kind. Its uniqueness, however, exists in the much larger context of the global Cold War – a legacy that can still be felt across Europe, erstwhile epicentre of the conflict. A continent-wide infrastructure of civil defence and military installations still stands today, on both sides of the former Iron Curtain, as witness to the madness of the not-so-distant past.

Bratislava_bunkerThat “other side” of the Iron Curtain has left a most lasting impression on me. Every day for nearly a year, I crossed the old line of the Berlin Wall to get to work, leaving my home on the one-time Stalinallee in a ritual unthinkable for decades. I even helped to recreate a human Wall, for the 20th anniversary commemoration of its fall, thinking as I stood there of the quiet man who guided me through the ex-Stasi prison in East Berlin where he had been held as a political prisoner. I won’t soon forget the damp interior of the abandoned Soviet communications bunker near Vilnius, or the young Slovaks partying to techno music at Sub Club, a former Czechoslovak government bunker in Bratislava. I still can’t put into words how I felt standing in a Belorussian forest where untold thousands had been executed for political reasons. The longest escalator ride of my life I shared with Kiev’s commuters, who descend up to 102 metres underground to ride one of the world’s deepest subway systems, built to double as a bomb shelter. As I rode it with them, I couldn’t imagine them as enemies of my parents’ generation, couldn’t imagine them huddling in the darkened tunnels as NATO missiles flew overhead. To see proof that “they” feared “us” enough to build such things is a sobering reflection on some of our accepted notions of  the good and bad side of history, and a powerful brake on any lingering triumphalist assumptions.

entrance vilnius bunkerEven more than historic places, it’s the people I’ve met who make an impression deeper than any bunker. Friends of mine who grew up in East Germany wept as they told me of careers dashed for political reasons or the harrowing decision to defect and leave loved ones behind. Their stories have also reminded me yet again that I ought not to forget the cost of our Cold War politics on dissenting thinkers and others back home. I marvel at the resilience of peoples whose hopes and dreams were stifled by a suffocating system and then dashed again during the brutal economic and social transition that followed revolution. There were no thousand points of light for the bright young Ukrainian student and Romanian colleague in Vienna who felt no choice but to leave their homelands, long after Communism’s fall. Until now, I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. My list of spots to visit is long indeed, from bunkers in the UK to Ukrainian missile sites and abandoned Soviet nuclear sub pens. Given what I’ve experienced so far on my wanderings through a slowly fading Cold War landscape, I can’t help but feel that the Diefenbunker and its sombre companions in that concrete archipelago of fear cast a long shadow, whether or not they’ve ever seen the light of day.

Written by Tanja Sofrenovic

Vector-Echo-3-Charlie-Whiskey-Mike (VE3CWM)! This is the call signal of the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum’s HAM radio station. Every Tuesday evening the Amateur Radio Club meets in the former Emergency Radio room of the museum, right next to one of the bunker escape hatches! Using high frequency radios, they talk to people from all over the world.

Amateur Radio Club - Photo by C. Scharf

Amateur Radio Club – Photo by C. Scharf

What makes this HAM radio station unique is the fact that it is one of the few places in Canada that operates from a museum. The group was started almost ten years ago by several members who were passionate about radio communication. Since then, they have rebuilt and acquired much of the radio equipment that was originally used during the Cold War.

While most of us are used to the cellular phones and the internet, which provide us with instant messages anywhere we go, there is something magical about radio communication. You never know who will respond to your call (called CQ in radio talk) or if they will even speak English! If you are interested in learning more on this topic or if you would like to become an expert in using Morse code, join us at the Museum or register for our March Break and/or Summer Spy Camp.

Tanja Sofrenovic is a volunteer writer for the Diefenbunker, and has been capturing the interesting history of our amateur radio station.