Canada’s doomsday bunker – Armageddon there now!

Diefenbunker Tunnel Canada

Canada’s Diefenbunker museum gives visitors a taste of the country’s Cold war past. Photo: By SamuelDuval (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0

Imagine if you could tour an actual Cold War bunker, where a nation’s wizards of Armageddon planned to ride out a nuclear war and emerge to a shattered world to pick up the pieces (ha!).

Enter Canada’s Diefenbunker – a cross between Wargames and Downfall with a dash of Back to the Future (the first one) thrown in, an easy half-hour drive from Ottawa, beneath a tin shed in the middle of a large, useless prairie.

The sprawling underground complex was built to safeguard Canadian top lawmakers, brass and mandarins during an atomic exchange but now is the nation’s Cold War Museum.

The four-storey, 300-room, heavily armoured sub-surface structure was built to withstand a 5 megaton nuclear blast from a distance of 1.8km – that being as close at the Canucks thought the Ruskies could get to the complex with their clunky, temperamental Soviet-era ICBMs through Ottawa’s volatile weather and political hot air.

The subterranean facility was named after then prime minister John Diefenbaker, and was constructed in secret at the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.

Diefenbunker War Room , Canada
Apocalypse kitsch … the War Room.

Decommissioned in the 1990s, it was fully stocked to permit its doomsday warriors to survive for 30 days before emerging though the prairie-turned-crater-glass to take over the reins of the shattered country – and not a V8 Interceptor in sight.

One month doesn’t really seem nearly long enough somehow.

“We would have had room for 535 designated people, not just random people who wanted to come in. None would have been allowed to bring their families, including the Prime Minister,” Diefenbunker executive director Henriette Reigel said.

A Nuclear Family Kitchen exhibition has also been added to allow visitors to go back to the 1960s through the heart of the nuclear family home – the kitchen.

There are also awesome map rooms, 1970s electric typewriters, rotary phones (remember them?) and hip plastic chairs.

The Diefenbunker even hosts parties, corporate events, conflict resolution workshops (you can’t fight in here – it’s the war room) and a spy camp for kids.

Diefenbunker Museum: Canada’s Cold War Museum

The Nuclear Family Kitchen is open until September 3, 2017

Admission: (Adults) $14.00

Jonathan Porter

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