Up to date information on the comings and goings in The Diefenbunker: Canada's Cold War Museum. Also a behind the scenes look at how the museum operates and how the museum team is working after our capacity expansion project to which grew our capacity from 60 to 420 in July 2010!

Rex Zero Workshop

Posted by Eric Espig On 10:42

On November 11, 2010 author Tim Wynne-Jones spent the day with us, attending one of the interactive workshops held in the Rex Zero Headquarters and then reading from the first finished draft of the 4th installment of the series. Tim then answered questions about Rex and the writing process and signed copies of his books. Thank you , Tim for the wonderful afternoon! We look forward to finding out what Rex will be up to in your next book! The West Carleton Review came out to report on the event, the full article may be found here

November 11: Tim Wynne-Jones at The Bunker!

Posted by Eric Espig On 15:46

Cold War Cinema: Winter 2010/11

Posted by Eric Espig On 11:34

Cold War Memorial Day: November 9th, 2010

Posted by Eric Espig On 14:51

New Executive Director - Derek Cooke

Posted by Eric Espig On 11:38

The Board of Directors of the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Derek Cooke as its new Executive Director. Effective September 27, Mr. Cooke will oversee all museum operations.

“Mr. Cooke brings to the museum a lifetime of heritage presentation and preservation in museums and historic sites,” said Doug Beaton, President of the Board of Directors. “We’re extremely pleased to have him join the team, bringing needed historical insights that will drive the museum’s goals forward for the next few years.”

In addition to past achievements, which included work with the National Capital Commission, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Upper Canada Village, Louisbourg National Historic Site and the Parks Canada Agency, Mr. Cooke has also had roles with the Ontario Historical Society and Interpretation Canada. 

Guerilla online magazine, retrieved Sept. 10, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

As splintering news and entertainment media grow increasingly desperate to catch our attention, irrational fear of foes—real or imagined, threatening from within or without—is now a prevailing characteristic of the collective psyche in the west.
University of Ottawa MFA student Edwin Janzen takes a nostalgic look at that fear with Guys in Caves, his thesis exhibition aptly located at The Diefenbunker, the Cold War bunker-turned-museum and historic edifice of nuclear war paranoia.

The exhibition opened August 13 but the vernissage is slated for Tuesday, August 31, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Janzen’s multi-media and multi-sensory exhibition includes four installations on various levels of the museum, consisting of plastic and neon signage, video, audio, and an olfactory component.
“The show is called Guys In Caves in reference to the imagined mountain lair of Osama bin Laden,” explains Janzen.  
“But we also live in a cave of sorts,” he continued, “a psychological and                     
ethical cave of our obsession with security in which we conjure up enemies for ourselves and hide away from the world.”
In the “Inferno” installation, a small, darkened office space features a suspended neon sign displaying the word “Inferno” amidst strong smells of stale cigarette butts and whiskey—aromas that Janzen associates with “the macho office culture of the Cold War era.”

Other installations consist of ordinary-looking office signage that incorporates words and phrases from the war on terror of the past decade. In “Adversary,” the artist shows six looped video pieces on the old, ceiling-mounted TV monitors that are themselves artifacts of the museum.

The show is not all doom and gloom, however. In one humorous installation, "Gauntlet," a musical track plays in a narrow corridor on the bunker's bottom level—the theme song to the 1960s spy spoof TV show, Get Smart.
Janzen’s previous work has focused on political, military and Cold War themes, and he deliberately pursued The Diefenbunker as the venue before creating the exhibition.

“The Diefenbunker represents an unmatchable opportunity to work site-specifically,” Janzen said. “In visiting the space, I sought to pay attention to what one might call the ‘vocabulary’ of the space: the furnishings, the signage, objects, fixtures, smells and sounds. So, in a sense, the bunker itself was my guide.”
Since becoming a museum, The Diefenbunker has welcomed many artists to either exhibiting their work in the facility, or use it as their inspiration.

“In the past, we have welcomed a diverse array of visual artists, including Lynne Cohen, Adrian Göllner, Jana Sterbak, Marcia Lea, and many more,” says Eric Espig, the museum’s programs and public relations manager.
“These kinds of artistic interactions with The Diefenbunker’s unique environment help to enrich the way in which the public experiences the Cold War and its huge impact upon our history and society.”

To that end, Janzen aims to “draw links between modern fears and Cold War fears,” he said. “The objects of these fears are different, but fear is fear—it's always the same … I've constructed the exhibition as a descent into the underworld, which is also a metaphorical descent into the human mind in a defensive posture.”
Guys in Caves is on exhibit until Thursday, September 30.

Full article and photographs may be found here: http://www.getguerilla.ca/g-gallery
photo by Irina Lyubchenko

Link to interview with Edwin Janzen on Ottawa blog Apt 613

Cold War Cinema - Summer/Fall Program

Posted by Eric Espig On 13:40

New for Summer 2010

Posted by Eric Espig On 13:08

"I am excited to announce that on June 28th, 2010, the Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum opens its doors for self-guided tours and an "interesting" dining experience! Having completed our $1.65 million fire retrofit, we can now bring almost 500 people into our unique historic site. Please join us on the 28th for the launch of our multi-language audio/video  tour, our visitor guide, our new interactive website, Project Rustic: Journey to the Diefenbunker, and the opening of the Federal Warning Centre and CanX, a canteen that serves the "best" in meal replacement kits! We will have 2 for 1 admission on that day as well as prizes and discounts for our museum store. This day represents the fulfillment of a dream for the Diefenbunker not to mention a lot of hard work and support by many people and organizations."

Alexandra Badzak     
Executive Director   

Project Rustic: Journey to the Diefenbunker

Investigate the global events that helped shape our past with the Cold War Timeline, become a undercover KGB spy working in the bunker trying to communicate with the Kremlin, or spend some time on the outside helping retrieve the much needed radiation sniffer. Whatever task you choose, remember, your country and fellow Canadians are counting on you to help make the right decision...

Project Rustic: Journey to the Diefenbunker is an interactive website that encourages Canadians to learn about the Continuity of Government Program and the role of the Central Emergency Government Headquarters in Canada during the height of the Cold War. This project has a youth focus and uses humour and popular culture references to draw participants into a dark period in Canada's history.

The Diefenbunker Museum wishes to thank the Government of Canada's Heritage Department through the Canadian Studies Program for their support of this project.

Audio/Video Tour

audio guide
We are excited to launch the new Audio/Video tour of the Diefenbunker! The 31 track self-guided tour leads visitors through the museum with the use of MP4 players and corresponding directional signage and visitor guide. The audio/video tour includes footage of the Bunker construction and operations shortly after its completion in 1961.
Approximately 1 hour in length, the audio/video tour is included in the price of admission and will also be available for download for use on visitors' personal media players and smart phones. 25 MP4 players are also available at the museum admissions in the former guard house to loan to self-guiding visitors.

Visitor Management System

Due to an anticipated increase in our attendance, the Diefenbunker has adopted a visitor management software and hardware package from Vantix into our operations. We are now able to integrate our box office, group reservations, room rentals, public programs, membership and store sales into one system both on site and on-line. The Diefenbunker staff can now simultaneously process fees, track tour bookings, market programs and products and receive important statistical reports that provides us with valuable information on our visitors' needs and wants. Not only will this visitor management package increase our operational efficiency, it will also connects us to a local and global audience by providing store products and tickets for sale online. 

The Diefenbunker Museum wishes to thank the Government of Ontario's Ministry of Culture though the Museum and Technology fund for their support of this project.

The new ticket, pictured above, is also a nice souvenir featuring various 36 bunker images.


Get ready to experience the Bunker as never before. Military style meal replacements are available for purchase and consumption in the Diefenbunker cafeteria. Now visitors can experience how Bunker residents would have eaten during the later stages of a 30 day lockdown. Spaghetti, chili, vegetarian lasagna, various deserts, "Soldier Fuel"  and  beverage service will begin in the cafeteria. Full "Meal Replacement Kits" will also be available for purchase to bring home and eat in your own fall out shelter within the next 4 years.

June 5: Doors Open 2010!

Posted by Eric Espig On 10:02

The Diefenbunker will be participating in Doors Open again this year. Our doors are always open, but on Saturday June 5th visitors will be able to come into the bunker and, for the first time, experience our new capacity increase and get lost on a self-guided tour throughout the building.

Get your Doors Open Ottawa program guide in the Saturday, May 29 issue of the Ottawa Citizen. Copies are also available at all Bridgehead Coffee locations.

or simply download this PDF

June 15: Cold War Cinema - Dr. Strangelove!

Posted by Eric Espig On 12:32

Consistently ranked as one of the greatest films and the greatest comedy made, featured in June is the Stanley Kubrick classic about the string of all-to-possible errors leading to the third world war and global nuclear annihilation. Viewing this masterpiece inside of the Diefenbunker is an amazing and truly unique and surreal experience.
"Kubrick next chose to tackle the subject of nuclear annihilation. He began by researching the science and philosophy of nuclear war and optioning Red Alert, a serious dramatic novel by Peter George. Although Kubrick had long been personally terrified by the potential of an all-out nuclear war, he eventually turned his devilish sense of black humor on the project. Novelist Terry Southern turned the original story on its head and the film was renamed Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Shooting in black and white on a soundstage in England, Kubrick was in supreme command of the content and the visual style of the film. Production designer Ken Adam who had created the look for the James Bond film series, invented the circular-structured War Room and recreated the interior of the U.S. bomber cockpits without receiving official permission to examine the real thing. Based on intensive research in military magazines Adam brought realism to the outrageous comedy and imagination to the notion of a War Room used to plan global conflicts. Adam and Kubrick were so successful they even fooled President Ronald Reagan, who at the dawn of his first term, anxiously asked to tour the White House War Room which only existed in movieland." 

~ Retrieved May 20, 2010 from moviemaker.com, "The Legacy of Stanley Kubrick"

Reserve early to ensure your spot at this popular event!

IMDB rating 8.6/10

Tour at 6pm (optional)
Film at 7pm

May 18, 2010: International Museum Day

Posted by Eric Espig On 10:11

The Diefenbunker is offering 2 for 1 admission tomorrow during our public tours at 11am and 2pm. This is a great chance to see the museum before our grand unveiling of the new tours and exhibits on June 28!

Audio/Video Tour Update - We need your help!

Posted by Eric Espig On 10:42

Do you know someone who may be interested in narrating our audio guide in their native language? This is  a great opportunity to be a part of Canadian history as well helping to make our heritage accessible to recent immigrants and international tourist. The recording session will take approximately 5 hours. Successful applicants will receive $100 in compensation. contact e.espig@diefenbunker.ca for details.


The launch of the new audio/video self-guided tour of the Diefenbunker is June 28, 2010.  This will mark the first time in the history of the formerly top-secret bunker that the public will be granted unaccompanied access to the museum. The audio/video tour will be available free of charge via download from our website, download from our WiFi network on site, or you can borrow one of our MP4 players if you don't have a smart phone or iPod type device.

The Mad Happening

Posted by Eric Espig On 12:55

Our Capacity Project Completion "Happening" happened over the weekend, and we all had a great time rocking out to 60s jams provided by dj Aurele Gaudet and band The Star Tools. Dr. Barry Bruce, lead singer of the Star Tools also happens to be one of the Diefenbunker Museum founders. Everyone enjoyed martinis, a chocolate fountain, skewered pineapple fruit things, cocktail wieners, and much much more at this 60s themed night. Thank you again to everyone who helped us reach this milestone for the Museum.

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New Fire Pump!

Posted by Eric Espig On 14:08

As we are approaching the completion of the building capacity project we are seeing a lot of things changing very quickly.
February saw the removal of the old equipment in the Fire Pump Room, and the installation of the new.
The new Fire pump controller incorporates a transfer switch allowing the generator to power the fire pump during a power failure and is a fraction the size of the old controller.
Some of the old piping in the pump room was tested and reused other sections were added to the museum collection.
The new Pump is 60 Horse Power and capable of pumping 500 US Gallons/ min at 130 PSI.

Commissioning of the new equipment is scheduled for early April.

Brad Heath
Building Systems Manager

Get Lost! June 28th, 2010!

Posted by Eric Espig On 10:27

Bunker Photography Series - Michael Steinhauer

Posted by Eric Espig On 11:34

A second sample of the Bunker Photography Series of photos. Michael Steinhauer is well known in the Ottawa Museum community, as the Director of the Bytown Museum, Michael has been integral to widening the scope of the Bytown Museum mandate to include recent history of downtown, centretown and lowertown Ottawa. This change has facilitated the creation of new connections between persons presently living in those communities to their own pasts and the past of the neighbourhoods they reside in. Expanding the mandate of the museum has also led to more modern and innovative interpretation of the storied past of Bytown (Ottawa) using current technological innovations and trends to reach out to visitors. This is exemplifed in the interactive  "Capital Neighbourhoods" virtual exhibit currently on display on the VMC (Virtual Museum of Canada.) 

Michael's photos involve less often photographed aspects of the Diefenbunker and when those aspects are taken out of the context of the building, they provide interesting and unique stories of their own.


This series features the creative output of local professional photographers who have been invited to the bunker to attempt to visually capture the building, its contents and its atmosphere. Photographers are giving special permission to freely roam the Bunker and to choose how to interpret what they see. The end result of this program will yield the first exhibition and publication of artistic Bunker photography.

Cold War Olympics: Helsinki, Finland 1952

Posted by Eric Espig On 09:44

The years between 1948 and 1952 were significantly formative years of the Cold War. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization had been established, Mao Zedong had declared the establishment of the communist People’s Republic of China, the USSR had acquired nuclear capability, and the states of West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) and East Germany (German Democratic Republic) were formally established and  the winter of 1952 would bring with it the paranoia of McCarthyism.War had broken out over the political future of the Korean peninsula; pitting communists against capitalist states as the conflict  escalated to involve the China and the West.

The Summer Games, held in Helsinki, Finland, were the first in which the tensions of the Cold War were strongly evident. The Soviet Union sent athletes to the competitions yet refused to house them in the Olympic Village. Instead, Soviet athletes were housed in an isolated and guarded facility near the Soviet naval base at Porkkala. Soviet Olympians  traveled to and from events under escort and were kept wholly segregated from their peers. On both the east and west side of the Cold War divide, governements equated athletic successes and medal tallies with the superiority of their particular political system. American decathlete Bob Mathias is quoted as saying, “there were many more pressures on American athletes because of the Russians. . . . They were in a sense the real enemy. You just loved to beat 'em. You just had to beat 'em. . . . This feeling was strong down through the entire team.” This sentiment was echoed by Soviet officials and both sides sought to exploit the propaganda opportunities of the Olympic Games.

In 1949 Mao Zedong had declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China; a communist state occupying mainland China. The nationalist Chinese, under the leadership of Chiang Kai Shek had gone into exile to the island of Formosa/Taiwan naming themselves the Republic of China. On July 20, the nationalist Chinese withdrew from the competitions on the grounds that the People’s Republic of China had been allowed to participate. The 1952 Summer Games in Helsinki may have been the first where Cold War conflicts truly shared the stage with international fellowship, but they certainly wouldn’t be the last.

American propaganda "news"reel from 1952 revolving around Korea and American athletes

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Cold War Cinema - Spring Program

Posted by Eric Espig On 18:57

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Bunker Photography Series - Daniel Picard

Posted by Eric Espig On 16:54

We are pleased to present the first sampling of our Bunker Photography Series of photos. This series features the creative output of local professional photographers who have been invited to the bunker to attempt to visually capture the building, its contents and its atmosphere. Photographers are giving special permission to freely roam the Bunker and to choose how to interpret what they see. The end result of this program will yield the first exhibition and publication of artistic Bunker photography.

Daniel's work extends from Toronto - Ottawa - Montreal. His interest and ability to capture large architectural spaces, such as the Senate of Canada and bulky industrial machinery was welcomed to the Diefenbunker. His photos have given a new life to often photographed areas of the building. His professional work may be seen on his website found here:

Daniel is also an avid Fallout 3 fan and took advantage of the very video game feel of the Bunker:


Heritage Day 2010: Summit on Ice

Posted by Eric Espig On 09:33

Cold War Olympics: London 1948

Posted by Eric Espig On 11:33

By Matt Aubin  (Diefenbunker Interpreter)

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics games are rapidly approaching, and for every month of this Olympic year, the DiefenBlog will feature a short piece about how the global conflict of the Cold War played out at various Olympic venues.

Chapter 5 of the Olympic Charter states that “no kind of demonstration of political, religious, or racial propaganda is permitted in the Olympic areas.” The Olympics are intended to be a celebration of sport and international cooperation that trumps politics and nationalist agendas. Unfortunately, throughout the Cold War era the Olympic Games were occasionally used as a political and ideological "battleground".

The first Olympic Games to follow the Second World War were held in the winter of 1948, in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The host country had been neutral throughout WWII, and Germany and Japan were not invited to participate by the international community for WWII aggressions. The games were a simple affair, the world was still recovering from the depletion of physical and economic resources incurred during the war. By 1948 the USSR had yet to participate in any modern Olympic Games and although invited to St. Moritz, USSR opted not to send any athletes. They did however, send observers to assess how well Soviet participants might have fared.

The Summer Games in London, England of the same year would be the first Olympics to highlight the post-WWII East-West divide. The Games were a frugal event. There was no new construction for the games, and athletes were housed in former barracks and college dormitories. Germany and Japan were excluded from these games as well, and the Soviet Union again opted not to participate despite being invited to do so. The London Games would be the first to feature a political defection over Cold War lines. Czechoslovakia, after only months of communist takeover, did send a team to London. Czechoslovakian gymnast Marie Provaznikova refused to return to her homeland after winning a gold medal citing: "A lack of freedom."  Both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games of 1948 were undertaken with a spirit of renewal but given the potential uses of the Games as a stage for international propaganda, political undertones became obvious. The East-West divide of the Cold War would remain a defining characteristic of the Olympics 1948 until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

     Next month, as the Winter Games get underway in Vancouver, the DiefenBlog will feature a look at the 1952 winter Olympics, held in Oslo, Norway and the summer Games of Helsinki, Finland. The Helsinki Olympics were the first in which the Soviet Union fielded athletes.

The Capital Campaign: Over The Top!

Posted by Eric Espig On 11:11

The Capital Campaign has reached its goal of $1.65 million (CAD)! 

Jim Watson, on the day of his announcement to step down as an Ontario MPP. to officially enter the City of Ottawa mayoral race, stopped by the Diefenbunker, along with MP Gordon O'Connor to make the announcement of their respective levels of government's further commitment to the Diefenbunker museum.
The additional contributions of  $386,000 by the province of Ontario and $106,000 by the Federal Government mean that the museum has raised the necessary amount to cover the costs of the capacity expansion. The work to the museum, already underway, will be complete by the end of April 2010 and the new programs (including audio and self guided tours,  new interactive experiences and multilingual accessibility) will launch on June 28, 2010.

Thank you to everyone who helped to raise money or donated to this cause!

Jim Watson at the Diefenbunker podium

Gordon O'Connor MP, Jim Watson, Alexandra Badzak ( Exeecutive Director) and George Fawcett center Diefenbunker staff & volunteers, contractors, project managers.