“This is another emergency broadcast by the Canadian Emergency Broadcasting System […] another enemy attack on North America has been detected!”
The sound of sirens fills the air as the announcer’s voice declares an emergency situation throughout Canada. This is what you would have heard had there been an actual nuclear attack on Ottawa during the Cold War. As guides play this warning, they watch the excitement and fear grow on visitors’ faces as the aged broadcast carries through the room, static crackling from a 1960s radio. These are the thrills of the CBC Studio; just one of many rooms that visitors, especially youth groups, like to visit.
There is no doubt that the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum is a unique and quirky place to experience. It abounds in mystery and people are increasingly drawn to tour the halls of this subterranean Cold War relic. Remarkably so this year, as more and more requests trickle in for “End of Days” celebrations, signaling the approaching end of the Mayan calendar and, fortunately for the museum, a renewed interest in fallout shelters.
Today, thanks to dedicated volunteers in the community, the Diefenbunker has become a living museum and a National Historic Site where people can learn about the Cold War.
These volunteers, many of whom still work here today, certainly give this museum an edge over other historic sites. As some of them offer guided tours of the bunker, they have the opportunity to share with groups their own personal experiences of the Cold War and of working in the bunker. This truly impresses on people the influence of the Cold War on Canadian society, deepening their overall understanding of Canada’s role during the Cold War period.
The Diefenbunker does not only reserve itself for guided tours. The museum also offers a range of youth programs from birthdays to high school workshops. With anti-bullying messages gaining prominence in the media, the Diefenbunker strives to develop varied programs that remain educational but relevant to the public. A conflict resolution workshop is in the works and will be offered to elementary and secondary level school groups. What better place to learn conflict resolution than in a place that would have been right in the thick of international conflict during the Cold War?
Participants will simulate a lockdown scenario inside the Bunker, where their decisions will determine the fate of a Cold War world. For this, students will have to work together as a team, building important skills in communication and leadership.
The museum’s ever-growing library and archives, makes it an invaluable resource centre for students and Cold War enthusiasts alike. Not to mention, the period style exhibit spaces are great sets for filming!
This small rural community museum has grown exponentially in the last few years and its programs and events continue to reach new audiences daily. As exciting changes are still underway, it will be interesting to see what more this museum will offer as less of its visitors will have lived through the Cold War.
Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum
P.O. Box 466, 3911 Carp Road
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
Toll Free 1-800-409-1965