Theremin and Cocktails v5 (3)

For a truly unique experience, come to the Diefenbunker Museum this Wednesday, July 16th, at 7pm for a classical music concert. For the third year in a row, we are participating in the Music & Beyond Festival. This year we are thrilled to host Thorwald Jørgensen on the theramin. Named after its Russian inventor, Léon Theramin, who patented the device in 1928, the theramin is an early electronic instrument that is played without any physical contact by the performer. And in a Get Smart-like twist, Léon Theramin also invented a spy tool called ‘The Thing’. For those Beach Boys fans out there, a theramin-like instrument can be heard on their hit song Good Vibrations (it’s that wooooo hooooo noise!) and was also used to produce the eerie sounds for science fiction movies. And naturally Sheldon plays the theramin on the Big Bang Theory. Clearly this is an instrument eminently suitable for the Bunker!

Thorwald Jørgensen is currently a leading classical thereminist of Europe, but he started his musical career as a classical percussionist. Thorwald has played to great reviews as a chamber musician, soloist and orchestral thereminist in Europe and North America. He has collected an extensive library of original music for the theremin and several composers wrote new pieces for him. This rich and varied repertoire serves to demonstrate that the theremin can offer so much more than dramatic or scary effects in horror movies.

This concert has been generously sponsored by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Tickets are available through Music & Beyond.

The concert is preceded by an optional tour of the Diefenbunker Museum at 6pm (please register for the tour in advance.) The concert is at 7pm, and the cocktail party begins at 8pm.

We are grateful to our food sponsor My Catering Group.

my catering logo



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!


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.


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



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.

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.

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.

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.

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
Light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP by email to by September 13, 2013.

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