Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a public consultation organized by the Department of Canadian Heritage to view the design concepts of the six finalists for the creation of the National Memorial to Victims of Communism: Canada, a Land of Refuge. Each finalist presented a concept board, a maquette, and a sample of materials, as well as other visual aids like digital walk-throughs. We had the opportunity to discuss the entries with each design team, as well as with each other. We were encouraged to share our thoughts and comments in writing with the jury. With a room full of architects, heritage professionals and enthusiasts, landscape architects, and members of the public, a very lively discussions broke out.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have viewed these exciting designs, and am looking forward to the announcement of the winner in the Fall. The memorial will pay tribute to the over 100 million victims of Communist regimes, and will surely provide visitors and citizens of Ottawa with increased awareness of the crimes of communism, and a reflection of what our country has done to provide refuge to many who came here to escape these regimes.

I invite you to view the images and concepts of these remarkable designs, and to discuss them in our comments section!

Information Sheet Public Viewing_ENG

PFS Proposal

PFS Proposal

Bartosik Proposal

Bartosik Proposal

PowerPoint Presentation

Moskaliuk Proposal

North Proposal

North Proposal

Kupusta Proposal

Kapusta Proposal

Rapoport Proposal

Rapopart Proposal

Written Proposals:












Dr. Strangelove Movie Night!

Posted: August 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Stangelove or: How I learned to Stop worrying and Love the bomb” turns half a century old this year! What better way to celebrate this iconic film then by watching it in a Cold War Bunker? Bring your family and friends on Thursday August 21st for an exclusive viewing of this masterpiece…75 feet underground!

6:00pm – Optional guided tour; 7:00pm – Film
Tour and film: $15; Film only: $8.

Free popcorn!  Candy and beverages will also be available for sale.

For more information or reservations please call 613-839-0007 or e-mail Spaces are limited!


As promised in last week’s Diefenchunk post, I’m happy to share my findings on a special can of dehydrated milk from the Bunker’s collection.


The milk can is a cylindrical can of dried or dehydrated milk in powder form. The contents of the can are still intact, as the can was never opened.  The label includes the “11 Steps to Survival” instructions with suggestions for food for a fallout shelter on the back of the can.  There are also mixing instructions and  the 14 day milk requirements according to number of people.  The can is 15.2 cm tall, 12.7 cm in diameter and weighs 1 lb.

This can of Mil-ko was given to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker November 9, 1961 as a gift from Ray H. Bissell. It was the first special Fall-out Safety Pack to be produced. The Emergency Measure Organization (EMO) helped fund the production for the manufacturing labels.  Ray Hartley Bissell was the inventor of this process and method of dehydrating milk for the use of survival packs.

milko 1milko 2

History of Object/ Use

Ray Hartley Bissell filed for a patent for the process of increasing the solubility of powdered milk November 21, 1955. Bissell is the assignor to Mil-ko Products Limited in Hamilton, Ontario.  The invention is a specific processing of powdered milk that allows for lactose particles, leading to a better taste when mixed in water. The idea was to provide a milk that can instantly dissolve and taste fresh. Mil-ko Products Limited became a registered company October 3, 1958 – a month before the can was given to Prime Minister Diefenbaker. The company’s current owner is Agropur Cooperative in Longueuil, Quebec. 

In the event of a nuclear blast, nuclear fallout was a great concern for water and food supplies. If fallout particles do not mix directly with the food, then the food is not harmful. Food and water needs to be in dust-tight containers in order to preserve the content against nuclear radiation fallout. Peeling fruits and vegetables removes essentially all fallout as well as removing the top several inches of grain or similar food supplies that may have been touched by fallout. Water from various sources – such as deep wells, covered reservoirs, tanks, and containers – would not be contaminated by the fallout. Water contaminated by radioactive elements that have been dissolved can still be drinkable if it filtered through earth properly.

Food rationing was a reality of bunker-life. The cafeteria in the bunker was fully equipped and provided 4 meals a day, every day: breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as an overnight dinner for those working the night shift. Once a week fresh ingredients were delivered to the bunker. There were three walk-in coolers in the bunker kitchen – one for meat, one for dairy products and a third for vegetables.  The kitchen was used every day for 33 years. Should there be a 30-day lockdown situation, fresh ingredients could last about one week before military personnel had to switch to eating ration packs. Garbage would have been compacted and stored in room 251 until it was safe to move outside. 

The EMO, Emergency Measures Organization was the association of preparedness for civilians. Emergency preparedness was a prevalent matter in the 1950s. The idea of planning for civilian defence and preparedness began at the Federal – Provincial Conference in August, 1950.  The federal and provincial governments agreed on a plan to set up training schools for leaders, and to publish information brochures for the public.  They also established the “11 Steps to Survival” pamphlet which was distributed across Canada. It was rare for a household to not have at least one copy. 6 It was in part by the EMO that CFS Carp (or the Diefenbunker) was commissioned and constructed – as well as help from the Foundation Company of Canada under the direction of the Department of National Defence. 

This Mil-Ko can, and the support of the EMO for the production of the product, is indicative of the government’s efforts to prepare the civilian population for the aftermath of a nuclear attack during the Cold War.

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 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!

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    or e-mail!

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, LĂ©on 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, LĂ©on 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.