The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Secret Underground Base

The Diefenbunker was ordered built by Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1959 as the backup headquarters for the Canadian federal government and military in the event of a nuclear attack. It was in operation as a Canadian Forces Station until 1994 (CFS Carp) and is now a pretty epic historic site and museum. It’s an entirely underground base which could have been self-sustaining for 30 days in isolation. Its construction and actual existence was kept secret for much of its operational life.

(Note: it only later gained the charming portmanteau nickname “Diefenbunker” and was known by more boring acronyms in official documentation.)

As with all Canadian Forces Bases, it has a coat of arms. It’s very apropos, centered around Cerberus, the three-headed dog from classical mythology that guarded the gate to the Underworld.

You too can visit this site! When I went a few years ago our tour guide was a retired military man who happened to know my father, which is why we were given this badge. They have much original furniture and fixtures that are still in place as it was from the  1970s and 1980s, including the vault that was intended to hold the gold reserves from the Bank of Canada. It feels like a time capsule. Think twice about visiting, however, if you are claustrophobic.

If you are like me and are living thousands of kilometres from the Ottawa area, you can also visit the site online in this Virtual Museum.

One thought on “The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Secret Underground Base

  1. Pingback: Canadian History Roundup – Weeks of December 16, 23, and 30, 2018 and January 6, 2019 | Unwritten Histories

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