Archive for the ‘Museum Community’ Category


The Diefenbunker team is pleased to announce the appointment of Christine McGuire as our new Executive Director for the museum.

Christine has more than 13 years of experience in the museum and heritage sector here in Ottawa. Throughout her career, Christine has brought her creativity, drive and passion to redefining exhibitions and enhancing audience engagement. She is known for pushing the boundaries of experiential exhibitions rooted in innovation, public engagement and social responsibility, as well as providing leadership to organizations through transformation and growth.

Christine was most recently an Exhibition Planner with Aga Khan Foundation Canada, specializing in project management, exhibition development and audience engagement.  Christine is not unfamiliar with the Diefenbunker Museum, having been involved with our museum in 2009 as the organization’s Education and Volunteer Manager. She is thrilled to be back as the new Executive Director.

“I am honoured to be entrusted with the leadership of this dynamic museum. I look forward to working with the talented staff, dedicated board and growing community to create an exciting new chapter for the Diefenbunker Museum.”

Christine holds a Master’s degree in Public History from Carleton University, specializing in public memory and immigration history.  I encourage you to welcome her and we wish her all the best with her new position.

~The Diefenbunker Team



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.

Happy Birthday Canada!

To celebrate we are offering a fun-filled day of activities at the Diefenbunker Museum. Come join us between 11:00am – 4:00pm for a great celebration. Did we mention that admission is FREE all day?

Face Paiting 2012What’s Happening at Bunker

  • Take part in our Photo Scavenger Hunt and enter your family in to win a great prize
  • For the kids (or the kid-in-you): Be sure to have your face painted
  • Enjoy live music by folk band Dayton Brock
  • Have a postcard made at our Flashpoint Photobooth
  • Enjoy a BBQ (hot dogs and veggie dogs) with Freezies ($)
  • Explore our Museum by joining our guided tours, or explore the museum on your own
  • Bring your bike! The Huntley Community Association will be hosting a Bike Rodeo!!!

What is a Bike Rodeo you ask?

The event will feature a sign in and bike inspection being done by staff from Kunstadts in Kanata. There will be a series of riding tests and child friendly competitions to train/test and entertain the bikers. The bike rodeo will be held between 11:00am-1:00pm.

If you have any questions, please call the museum at 613-839-0007 or email

Location: 3911 Carp Road (Follow the Canada Flags from the Carp Fair Grounds!)
Cost: FREE
Date and Time: July 1st, 2013, 11:00am – 4:00pm

See you at the Bunker!

Valentine’s Day was extra sweet at the Diefenbunker this year!

Staff, volunteers and Board members were thrilled to receive a visit from the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. Volunteer extraordinaire, Captain (N) (Ret’d) Michael Braham gave Minister Moore and his team of Parliamentary Secretaries (Paul Calandra and Jacques Gourde) a special tour of the Bunker. As the former head of Operations for Emergency Preparedness Canada, Mike was one of the 535 people who would have been stationed in the Bunker in the event of a nuclear attack on Ottawa, and his personal experience and his passion for Cold War history made the tour particularly relevant.

This special visit was also the occasion of an announcement of a new investment from the Government of Canada in the Diefenbunker. The investment supports the conversion of the unique underground gold vault into a multifunctional programming and community space, and will help the museum increase its audience and reach to the community.
Diefenbunker Staff and Volunteers with Minister James Moore and Staff.

Minister Moore and his team enjoyed their tour of what could have been their accommodations in the unlikely event of a nuclear attack, and appreciated the fact that indeed, major Cold War conflict had been avoided! We also had the opportunity to discuss our new Strategic Plan and upcoming projects that will use the Diefenbunker’s unique learning environment to teach current and future generations to understand better one of the most critical times of the Cold War.

Written By: Chrissy Howard, Alix McLeod, Sarah Smith, Lyndsey Sullivan

Cold War Store MaquetteEach year the Algonquin College’s Applied Museum Studies (AMS) Program teams up with local institutions to create opportunities for third year students to develop educational exhibitions. Our project involved writing a design brief, including a curatorial essay; the creation of exhibit panels, interactive activities, a scale model of the store; and a presentation of the design to the Diefenbunker. Here are some of the highlights:

Revitalization of the Cold War Store Exhibit Plan

Our primary objectives were to:

  • update the current store space,
  • incorporate interactive elements, and
  • to introduce a more engaging space for kids.

Additionally, we wanted to further the museum’s Cold War themes by adding information panels, including one focusing on the original function of the space as a security area. As the project evolved, it grew to include a children’s area in the unused space across the hall from the Cold War Store.

What we learned

Close up of the Bunker Kids areaWorking with the Diefenbunker was incredible!  We learned to shape the exhibit to fit with this unique museum’s long-term goals and mandate. The freedom that we were given was amazing.   We were provided with basic guidelines, but the final plan was very much our own creative ideas. The completion of this project shows our commitment and our ability to see it through to the end. This will be a valuable addition to our portfolios as we begin our museum careers this spring!

The experience helped us to better understand the way the museum world works, and gave us the opportunity to interact with staff from the Diefenbunker.  The success of this project has boosted our confidence, and we are looking forward to seeing the finished product.  As we begin our careers as museum professionals, having a project like this under our belts is a real asset.

Thank You!

We would like to thank the Diefenbunker staff for their invaluable feedback and support throughout the project. The final result of this project is something that we are all very proud of, and we are looking forward to seeing our ideas come to life. Continue to visit the Diefenbunker’s website to follow the development of the Cold War Store revitalization plan.


**Reprinted with permission from the Ottawa Museum Network
Ottawa Museum NetworkOttawa's Stories - Little boy smiling

On behalf of our member museums, the Ottawa Museum Network would like to thank the City of Ottawa, the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada for their continued support of Ottawa’s local museums and heritage community. This “Top Ten” list highlights just a few of the successful projects and accomplishments that have been made possible as a result of the generous funding provided by our supporters.

Vanier Museopark:

On November 16, the Vanier Museopark held a benefit evening at the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre. This event, which was attended by nearly 200 people, represented its principal fundraising activity. The event raised more than $ 23 000. The Vanier Museopark would like to thank the community for its support as well as its many sponsors.

Osgoode Township Historical Society and Museum:

November was a busy month for the Osgoode Township Historical Society & Museum.  Amidst museum renovations, we began with our Annual Remembrance Day Ceremony on Saturday, November 3rd, followed by an adult jewellery workshop on Saturday November 10th.  A wonderful Kids Craft Day was held on Saturday, November 17th where a great group of kids discovered how to create their very own Advent Calendars!  Several “Remember When” Seniors programs were offered off-site, including our first program done in french at a retirement residence in Limoges, Ontario!  The month came to a close with a well-attended Cheese-Making Presentation by Eugene Kyer on Saturday, November 24th.  We are looking forward to the holiday season and more great events coming up in December!

Pinhey’s Point Historic Site:

With the fire suppression and heritage stewardship in mind, an 86,000L water tank was installed underground at Pinhey’s Point Historic Site in November.  Funded by Infrastructure Services, the project guarantees an accessible year-round water source for firefighters in the event of an emergency at the site, without modifications to the heritage structures.

Billings Estate National Historic Site:

Billings Estate National Historic Site has completed the final phase of the multi-year rehabilitation of the Billings cemetery.  Initiated in 2009 using MSP funding, the project saw historical research and physical studies lead to landscape and sightline improvements, enhanced security to prevent vandalism, the installation of new interpretive signage to tell the stories of the people buried there, and the installation of commemorative markers honour the members of the Billings family who are buried there.  The project’s completion is a fitting end to the bicentennial anniversary of Braddish’s settlement in Gloucester Township.

Goulbourn Museum:

During the month of November, over 3000 visitors viewed the Goulbourn Museum’s display of wartime artefacts at the Stittsville branch of the Ottawa Public Library. In addition to medals, clothing, photographs and weapons, the display also included a series of letters written during WWI by Pte. Sefton Stewart of the village of Richmond. The Museum also held its final family craft day of the year in November which was ‘sold out’ weeks in advance.

Watson’s Mill:

In November, Watson’s Mill partnered with Museoparc Vanier, Osgoode Museum, Goulbourn Museum, Nepean Museum and Rideau Township Historical Society to participate in this year’s “Women’s Day Festival” in Manotick, an annual festival sponsored by the Manotick BIA as the Ultimate Girls’ Day Out.  Together, the participating museum colleagues developed a special exhibit featuring period clothing from each site’s collection.  The period pieces were displayed at the Carriage Shed and Dickinson House, in Historic Dickinson Square from November 1st to 12th.  During that time, Watson’s Mill also collected donations of gently used clothing for Nelson House, a women’s shelter organisation.  The collaboration was a huge success and the museum colleagues look forward to their next group project.

Bytown Museum:

The Bytown Museum partnered with Haunted Walks of Ottawa to offer fantastic tours and experiences of the Bytown Museum’s building and collection from a wondrous perspective in October and early November.  The partnership will continue in December with special Holiday tours over three weekends. The museum had a great opening for its new artist-in-residence exhibition: Rebranding Bytown with Michèle Provost, which was followed by a Curator’s Talk on November 4th and an Artist’s Talk on November 26th. The museum has also been busy preparing for next year’s stellar season – new exhibitions, partnerships and programming, as well as developing major grant applications and funding opportunities.

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum:

Christmas cheer is the focus at Cumberland Heritage Village Museum! Create some memories of your own every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from December 1 to 23, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Our family-friendly Christmas program evokes the nostalgia of Christmas past with a twist! The heritage buildings and our newly planted 20’ Christmas tree will be glittering with lights. The museum green will be transformed with the presence of an enormous sleigh and nine reindeer!  Our young visitors will send a “Santa-gram” to the North Pole and experience first-hand how communities met the needs of those less fortunate. With gingerbread decorating, vintage ornament making, a visit to Santa’s Workshop, horse-drawn wagon rides, and of course a visit with Santa Claus, visitors young and old will be filled with good cheer.

Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum:

November was all about community, partnerships and special events at the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum. The Diefenbunker partnered with Huntley Parish for our first ever Remembrance Day ceremony. The Museum also hosted a well-attended book launch for Andrew Burtch’s new book, “Give Me Shelter: The Failure of Canada’s Cold War Civil Defence.” A lively presentation by the author and Q&A period followed. We are looking forward to topping the month off with our first annual Whiskey Tasting Fundraiser on November 30.

Nepean Museum:

Santa’s arrival at the Nepean Museum has created huge excitement for the Holidays! He visits for Seasonal programs much to the delight of his devoted fans. Fairfields Historic Property has seen the Family Zone programs fully attended on Sundays and the upcoming seasonal programs for the Winter include ‘ Indoor Games’ and “ Warm, Woolly and Wild” in January and February.