Diefenbunker dedicated to human survival

by Leslie Hossack

Operating Room, Level 400, The Diefenbunker, Ottawa 2010

© Leslie Hossack

Exactly 50 years ago, in December 1961, Canada’s Central Emergency Government Headquarters, aka the Diefenbunker, became operational. During the Cold War, in the event of a nuclear attack, designated government officials would report to the bunker.

The medical centre in the bunker was staffed by personnel from the Canadian National Defence Medical Centre in Ottawa. In addition to the examination room shown in yesterday’s post, the medical centre had a full operating room and recovery rooms. Please click on the picture above to see more details.

Built secretly between 1959 and 1961 just outside of Ottawa, the Diefenbunker was nicknamed after Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker. This massive underground complex contained office spaces, sleeping quarters, broadcasting facilities and decontamination chambers.

On August 21st 1958, Prime Minister Diefenbaker ordered the construction of the shelter. The Diefenbunker was designed for 535 people, with enough supplies to survive for 30 days. Inside the bunker, a CBC radio station provided a vital link to the Canadian public. A weather studio was equipped to monitor wind patterns and take radioactive readings. Other rooms – kitchens, bathrooms, food and waste storage, a hospital and a morgue – were dedicated to simple human survival.

Please visit the Parks Canada site for more information about The Diefenbunker.

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