What War Were You in Daddy – The Cold War!


Ever heard of the ‘Diefenbunker’.  I recently visited Ottawa and 30 minutes outside of city limits there is a small quiet suburb called Carp.  Between 1959 and 1961 the residents of Carp wondered about the huge construction project being undertaken in the hillside of a local farm.  The curious were told that an Experimental Army Signals Establishment was being built on the site.  However, what was actually being constructed was a four stories deep bunker with 300 rooms and over 100,000 square foot area suitable to house 535 souls.


The Blast Tunnel

The bunker was designed to survive a nuclear blast equivalent to 5 million tons to TNT at 1.1 miles.  There are 32,000 cubic yards of concrete and 5000 tons of steel in the bunker – enough for a 20-storey building of normal construction.


Entrance into the bunker – airlocked with two doors

At the very lowest level a huge vault known as the Bank of Canada Vault was poured large enough to store 800 tons of Canada’s gold reserves.


Entrance to the Gold Reserve Vault


Which numbers did I use?? – Vault Access

This bunker is huge and is 157 feet to a side and is 57 feet tall.  Walls are two and a half feet thick with the base slap five feet thick.  Each floor slab is 20-24 inches thick and there were 36, four feet diameter columns that flare out to 10 feet at the top and bottom to spread the overpressure load that would occur during a nuclear blast.


The Cafeteria and Galley

Prior to 1988, to have a legal government in Canada all that was needed was the Governor- in-Council Group consisting of a group of four ministers one of which would be the Prime Minister – and the Queens Representative.  The Governor-in-Council, along with 10 – 12 ministers would form the War Cabinet and would have been the core official in the bunker. They would have been supported by 350 other individuals representing upwards of 20 federal departments and agencies responsible for functions such as national defence, food production and distribution, transportation and communications, public works, housing and security.


Equipment Rooms


Equipment Rooms


The HAM Radio Office

The whole complex was supported by a military information centre of around 120 personnel who manned the bunker on a 24/7 basis from inception until 1994.  Room 398 was the Computer Room and was fitted with the Burroughs 4800 computer used to route 100,000 messages a month to various levels of government and other military installations.  Late in 1960’s a (Signal Transmitting Receiving and Distribution) STRAD computer was installed at a cost of $7.5 million.


Looking familiar



The bunker is now part of the Canada’s Cold War Museum and is certainly worth a visit.

For further information have a look at this website 

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