Archive for the ‘Visitors Services’ Category

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.


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.


Bunker bomb: Peace on EarthMusings from the Executive Director

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on all our accomplishments at the Diefenbunker. Our team has had a fantastic year, and we’ve made huge efforts to reach out to the community. We’ve welcomed so many new people to the museum, and also to our newsletter, and our social media platforms. We’ve brought you art – check out the Allard Gallery to see Leslie Hossack’s eerie and haunting photographs. Cold War music was featured during the Music from the Cold War concert, with dozens of performances all over the building, including the Moscow String Quarter in our cafeteria.  We’ve had manicures for Mother’s Day, and hot sauce in the Man Cave for Father’s Day. We brought you romance on Valentine’s Day. And we recently partnered with the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum to hold a fun and lively whiskey tasting fundraiser, adding taste and smell to the Bunker experience.

We’ve given our visitors opportunities to try out different characters and styles — we’ve had a retro wedding, we’ve had zombies, we’ve had spies, and we’ve had the Easter Bunny, and of course we had the Grinch (returning by popular demand.)

This past year also saw the Diefenbunker exploring the Cold War experience from different perspectives. Our Cuban Missile Crisis commemoration looked at those tense few days when the world stood still. We launched Andrew Burtch’s book on the Canadian civil defence program during the Cold War. We reopened the Bank of Canada vault, one of the most unique and dramatic spaces in the facility. And we continued to work with our oral history project to bring you the perspectives of the people who lived and worked in the Bunker.

We’ve had a great year, and we are very grateful to our visitors, our supporters, our funders and donors, our municipal representatives, and our wonderful volunteers. And I in particular want to thank my amazingly talented staff – it’s a pleasure to work with them and we have a lot of fun together in our very own blast shelter.

We look forward to reaching out to our community and to our visitors, local, national and international. From all of us at the Diefenbunker, we wish you all a very happy and safe holiday.

The zombies have arrived! We have officially launched Zombie Season in the museum. Kelly Eyamie, our resident zombie expert, was feeling a bit lonely so we recruited over 40 zombie volunteers to help her out. Last weekend’s zombie training was a huge success, and everyone got to learn about zombie motion, gashes, and particularly zombie food (braaaaaiiiiiiins.) Kelly has kindly put up a Pinterest board with lots of how-to’s to transform yourself into a zombie.

Tonight was Cold War Cinema, featuring the cult classic Dawn of the Dead, and we had our first zombie sightings.

This is a very scary movie, and as soon as the scary music started (you know something bad is going to happen when the scary music starts) Diefenbunker staff started backing away.  I don’t know how we are going to survive zombie season if a movie already scares the living daylights out of us.

The next three weekends will see even more zombies at the Bunker. Incident at the Bunker: A Zombie Adventure will run every half hour starting at 2pm. You can purchase tickets at either The Haunted Walk of Ottawa or at the Diefenbunker. This is a truly scary partnership, so watch out, and above all take care not to get infected by the zombies.

Enjoy the zombie season, and we hope to see you and all your undead out at zombie headquarters!

The first week of school is almost over, and it’s time to think of fall. Carp, as an agricultural community, is a busy place this time of year, especially on weekends. If you are coming out to visit us at the Diefenbunker, there are many things to do around here.

Saturdays, the Carp Market, from 8 AM-2 PM, is a bustling place full of enticing market stalls, food, and friendly folks, such as Joe from Pizza All’Antica. A mobile wood-burning pizza oven owned and operated by the whole family serves up authentic Neapolitan pizzas at the market.

Pizza in the Oven

Joe from Pizza All’Antica. Photo by Henriette Riegel (c) 2012

Carp Carrots

Carrots at the Carp Market. Photo by Henriette Riegel (c) 2012

Across the road is the new Alice’s Village Café, where you can get a great cup of coffee and lunch or a decadent snack (try the ‘Big Nasty’ cinnamon bun), open weekends starting at 7 AM and weekdays at 6 AM. Speaking of decadent treats, Twisty Cream, just down the road from Alice’s, is one of my favourite spots for ice cream, and this is certainly a great place to take your family after visiting the Diefenbunker. I have a hard time driving by here on a hot summer afternoon without stopping for a cone. And because it’s Carp, even the family pet gets a small cone.

Alice's Village Cafe

Alice’s Village Cafe. Photo by Henriette Riegel (c) 2012

Twisty Cream Ice Cream - Sundae

Twisty Cream Sundae. Photo by Henriette Riegel (c) 2012

Carp is also the home of Carp Pizza and The Swan. Carp Pizza offers a discount for Diefenbunker birthday parties and rentals, and they even do gluten-free pizza crust. The Swan caters many Diefenbunker events and rentals and is known for their creative catering and their delicious hand-made chocolates and cakes. Sunny, the chocolatier, loves a challenge, and has made such delicacies as ‘nuclear fallout shelter’ truffles and spy-meets-spy birthday cakes for us. Lunches and dinners are also delicious, cooked by Cordon Bleu-trained chef Joe.

Carp Pizza - storefront image

Carp Pizza – photo by Henriette Riegel (c) 2012

The Swan at Carp - restaurant

The Swan at Carp – photo by Henriette Riegel (c) 2012

A visit on Sunday can also be combined with attending a church service. Both St. James the Apostle Anglican Church and St. Paul’s United Church hold Sunday services, at 9.30 AM and 10.30 AM respectively.

St James' Church

St James’ Church – photo by Henriette Riegel (c) 2012

Although Carp is only a half hour’s drive from downtown Ottawa, the quaint and friendly village atmosphere will make you feel like you are on vacation. It’s a great place to take your family for a day’s outing.

Please ask any Diefenbunker staff or volunteers for more suggestions on what to do in Carp and the surrounding area! We are happy to help!
613-839-0007 or

Have you ever wondered how many people can fit in the Diefenbunker?

Originally, it was built to be “home” to 535 military and government officials for 30 days, but when we first opened as a museum in 1998, fire code only allowed for 60 people at one time.

In 2010, we underwent a huge retrofit to our fire and safety systems and increased our capacity to 420. This year, on June 2 and 3, we put that capacity to the test!

The Diefenbunker has been a popular site for Doors Open Ottawa for many years. This annual event allows free access to over 150 sites in the National Capital region for one weekend.

Volunteers demonstrating Morse code at the DiefenbunkerAll hands were on deck for this very important weekend at the Diefenbunker. We provided 6 guided tours an hour led by excellent staff and volunteer interpreters. When space ran out on the guided tours, visitors were allowed in to self-guide.  There was retro candy, vintage wear and Diefenbunker branded goods for sale in our newly relocated boutique. Our radio volunteers were hard at work, operating all day and teaching visitors about ham radio and Morse code.

4 Doors Open Sites in Carp!

We were one of four Doors Open Ottawa sites in Carp this year, and visitors came out by the hundreds to see us each day. On Saturday, we were amazed by the arrival of over 1,300 visitors.

On Sunday morning, riding on the excitement and energy of the day before, we issued a challenge on Twitter for Ottawans to come out and help us beat Saturday’s record.

And it worked! On Sunday we had 1,420 visitors.

This brought our grand total up to a record-breaking 2,777 visitors in one weekend.

Visitors waiting to enter the museum at Doors Open Ottawa 2012

All staff and volunteers worked incredibly hard to make sure that all 2,777 visitors learned a little something about the Cold War and left with a smile on their face. Despite the rain, there was a sea of smiling faces underground that weekend.

It was a great opportunity for us to test our operations at capacity, and see what it really was like to have 420 people inside at once. On Sunday afternoon around 3pm, we did reach capacity with over 400 visitors inside the bunker for about twenty minutes. With 4 stories and 100,000 square feet you could barely even tell!