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Fleming College’s Museum Management and Curatorship post-graduate program is an Ontario College Graduate Certificate.  The unique an intensive structure of this program provides 75% of class time at the Peterborough Museum and Archives in Peterborough, Ontario.  In addition to the fast-paced 8-months of course work, there is a 14 week internship where each student chooses a location to spend their summer interning and producing a major research project.  As an upcoming graduate of this program, I chose to intern at the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War and have enjoyed working as the Museum’s Programs and Exhibitions Intern since earlier this summer.

I undertook this research project as a requirement of the College’s internship program, but also as a way to help the Museum prepare for the upcoming launch of an online database for the Ottawa Museum Network.  The project intends to define the importance of community museums and the need to share local history and culture. The outcome of this project is a manual on how to catalogue and enrich artifacts from a museum collection. A well-researched artifact will provide researchers as well as the public with accessible information and perhaps a desire to visit the Museum and National Historic Site.

The core of the project includes ten artifacts that were chosen from the Diefenbunker’s collection to enrich, photograph, and provide a condition report. This will allow the Diefenbunker to upload well-researched records with photographs for researchers or individuals wishing to look through the different artifacts the museums have online.

Each artifact chosen has a copy of the original cataloguing sheet, a digital copy of the newly completed cataloguing worksheet, a condition report, and photographs. Some artifacts have additional content. If original photographs were found during research, they were included as part of the file for research purposes. Upon researching all the chosen artifacts, there were 2 I found particularly fascinating and integral to the Bunker’s history as a military base as well as a Museum; the Diefenchunk and a can of dehydrated milk.  I will share my findings on these artifacts in a two-part blog post, starting today with the Diefenchunk.

THE DIEFENCHUNK

The Diefenchunk was donated to the museum in May 2002 as a gift.  On the front of the packaging it reads, “Genuine DIEFENCHUNK From the site of the Diefenbunker Carp, Ontario October 1995.” On the back of the paper packaging, “Thank you for supporting the WEST CARLETON TOWNSHIP PUBLIC LIBRARY”.  The chunk in its packaging is 13.3 cm in length, and 12.1 cm wide.

Diefenchunk front

Diefenchunk back

History of Object/Use

John Diefenbaker was the Prime Minister of Canada from 1957 – 1963, a time in which North America faced the greatest period of nuclear threat and warfare. Canada itself faced the height of nuclear threat during the 1950s and 1960s, reaching a climaxed period during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962; a time when a very possible nuclear war almost erupted between the United States and the Soviet Union. Diefenbaker ran Canada in its heightened time of fear and near conflict (Jeffrey, Brian, The Guide’s Guide to the Diefenbunker, Carp, ON: Diefenbunker, 2011).

CFS Carp, or the Diefenbunker, was commissioned in 1959 under the rule of Prime Minister Diefenbaker – hence the nickname. The construction of the 100,000 square-foot nuclear fallout shelter was designed for continuity of government. It was used as a communications facility during its 33 years of operation – between 1962 and 1994. Approximately 535 of the most important individuals were chosen to come to the bunker should there be a nuclear attack on Canada. Individuals including the Prime Mister, Governor General, a CBC radio representative, RCMP, medical staff, various ministers, and military and government were chosen to escape to the bunker in the event of a nuclear attack. The Canadian government was forced to consider civil defense upon entering the 1960s when nuclear war seemed imminent. The plan was to provide a continuation of a functioning government should the worst-case scenario occur – a Soviet attack on Canadian soil. As a result, Emergency Government Facilities/emergency fallout shelters were built across Canada to accommodate federal, provincial, and municipal governments for up to thirty days at a time. The largest bunker built, the central federal government bunker, was built in Carp, Ontario, just west of downtown Ottawa. The reason for not constructing the bunker downtown in Ottawa was due to the fact that should a bomb fall on Ottawa, the government would be safe from the fallout since the wind blows towards the east in Canada – essentially blowing fallout towards Quebec rather than west towards the bunker site (Jeffrey, Brian, The Guide’s Guide to the Diefenbunker, Carp, ON: Diefenbunker, 2011).

The Bunker has a very unique construction. There are 32,000 cubic yards of poured concrete and 5,000 tons of steel used to construct it. The entire bunker is shock mounted and is designed to sway and move with any vibrations or movements caused by an earthquake from a nuclear blast. It is designed to withstand a 5-megaton nuclear bomb from approximately 1.8 kilometres away.  There are 5 inches of gravel surrounding it to help with movement – a floating foundation. All 90 miles of cables used for communications are buried underground and shock resistant as well.   All concrete was poured using wheelbarrows working at a constant rate. Approximately 900 concrete samples were taken to ensure accurate mixture, texture, consistency etc. Out of the 900 samples only 5 were rejected (The Nuclear Roof, DVD, 1963, Carp, ON : Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre).

In 1994, the Bunker was decommissioned and completely stripped bare of all its contents before the doors were to be sealed. In 1995, tours of the empty bunker began as a way of fundraising for the West Carleton Public Library. The tours given over a very short period of time amounted to $79,000 in funds. Other fundraising events were created to help with the library fundraiser. The “Diefenbooker” was created and hosted in Carp, ON. It is a chance to join a walk, run or cycling of varying distances as a way to raise money. Winners of the Diefenbooker received Diefenchunk awards.

Jewelry and other souvenirs were created and sold as a way to raise money for the library before the Bunker was a museum.  Earrings were a popular item made and sold on site.  This Diefenchunk is a perfect example of one of the various souvenirs sold for this National historic Site before it was a museum. Have you seen any other kinds of bunker jewelry?

chunk earrings

The Diefenbooker still occurs every year. As part of the award, winners receive medals with Diefenchunks mounted inside. Due to the success and popularity the Bunker earned from the tours and fundraising events, it was made into a museum in 1998 and now operates 363 days a year (Brown, Dave, “Diefenbenders,” The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, ON, Apr. 17, 1996).

Stay tuned next week for my findings on a very special can of dehydrated milk!

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Bunker Birthday Parties

Posted: July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Diefenbunker if offering Birthday Parties every weekend in the summer! If you have a child between the ages of 7-12 then they will love our Spy Themed Birthday Parties. The children will dress up, go on top secret missions and crack codes! Birthday Parties include

  • Scavenger hunt
  • Tour of the Bunker
  • Spy themed games
  • Agent X chase and MORE!

Birthdays are scheduled Saturday and Sunday at 10pm, 1pm, 3pm. Loot bags can be provided upon request as well spy themed invitations! For Further information please visit our website http://diefenbunker.ca/birthday-parties/    or e-mail birthday@diefenbunker.ca!

As per tradition, we kicked off the summer with our first week of Spy Camp! “The Art of Espionage” was this week’s theme, where our spies in training conducted ground-breaking experiments, improved their stealth skills, learned the importance of disguise and most importantly tracked down the rogue Agent X! All in the all, the spies found success in trapping Agent X and brought him to jail! The Bunker is now safe! (at least until next week) The Diefenbunker is offering 8 more weeks of Spy Camp this summer for spies between the ages of 7-12. Next week’s theme is making and breaking codes. For more information please follow the link! http://diefenbunker.ca/spy-camp/

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Want a fun crafty way to carry a secret message? Or to give a unique gift to someone with a message only they will know? Using craft supplies available from most craft shops, try making one of these fun homemade gifts for yourself or someone special. You can encrypt a special message or secret by using rounded and long beads to form words in Morse Code.

First, purchase a material you will use as the bracelet. It needs to be knotted and tied so it should be a little stretchy or flexible. We used hemp cord. You will have to knot the end of the bracelet to start so the beads will not slip off.

Secondly, checking your Morse Code chart, plan your message before you begin so you don’t have to restart if you miss a bead! It’s helpful to print out a copy of Morse Code like the one below, and then to write out the message on paper.

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After each letter you make, knot the bracelet so that each letter is separated in your message or word. For example, if your message is “I love you” then your bracelet should go as follows:

** KNOT

* – ** KNOT – – – KNOT * * * – KNOT * KNOT

– * – – KNOT – – – KNOT * * –   KNOT

 

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Once you have your message on the bracelet, you can knot the end to keep the beads in place and message protected!

In the months of July and August, the Diefenbunker will be at Ottawa Public Library locations around Ottawa for a special program called Morse Code Bracelets! Kids who attend will learn about Morse Code and will get to try it out on a telegraph key. During the session, kids will create their own secret encrypted messages on their own bracelets to take home!

For more information visit the Ottawa Public Library website.

We archild_zombie_and_guides2webe thrilled to announce that we received Ottawa Tourism’s Partnership of the Year at last evening’s 2014 Awards Gala; an award shared with the Haunted Walk Ottawa, the Bytown Museum and Ottawa Jail Hostel.  During the Halloween season, the Haunted Walk offered three unique tour options with its partners, including our Incident at the Bunker: A Zombie Adventure.  These hair raising tours attract new and younger audiences to our facilities and present heritage interpretation in an altogether new light.

Our thanks to the Haunted Walk for submitting the nomination and for working with us to offer these ghoulish tours.

Thanks too to the amazing staff at the Diefenbunker for all of the extra effort that goes into the planning and implementation of this program.

And finally, a huge thank-you to our amazing team of volunteer zombies; over 60 of the most dedicated undead we have ever had the pleasure of working with!  Much of the success of this program is owed to you.

Notably, we were also a finalist for this award for our partnership with One World Dialogue and the programming around our Building Peace exhibition.  We are so proud to work with such amazing partners in our community.

Congratulations to all and here’s to more hair raising zombie tours this Fall!

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.

OpePapercraneposter_1ning this Saturday, in our Bank of Canada Vault is the Building Peace Exhibit.
Local artists – young and young at heart have contributed their artistic expression of the human desire for peace. Come be part of living history by enjoying, embracing and sharing with your friends and family – together with us – as we take a step towards building peace
Join us from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday September 14th, 2013
ADMISSION IS FREE
Light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP by email to events@diefenbunker.ca by September 13, 2013.

For more information about the exhibit, please visit our website.

That Sneaky Easter Bunny!!!

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Diefenbunker sImagetaff is having a hard time finding all of the eggs hidden by the Easter Bunny. After a day like today, during which 350 people visited the museum in search of eggs, we are surprised to find out that there are MORE to find! We were informed by THE Easter Bunny himself that, “there is still a looooad of eggs that haven’t yet been located!”. That extra generous, yet sneaky, bunny has managed to hide more of his eggs and we must retrieve them.

Continue the hunt for chocolate eggs tomorrow in our underground egg hunt. All children are welcome.

Don’t forget that there is still a chance to win a basket full of Easter goodies! Chocolates are nut-free throughout.