The history of Canadian bunkers

Discussion in 'General Chit-Chat' started by NaeKid, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Found a story on the 'net about bunkers in Canada, some history and locations of the bunkers. From what I read, it doesn't look like I would be able to purchase a cold-war bunker, so, I will be needing to build my own.

    For your reading pleasure and discussion ability, here is a copy / paste of what I was able to find on the 'net.
  2. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Part 1 of 4

    Taken from: Bastionhost Stakeholders: Cold War Bunkers in Canada


    Although Canada was unaffected by enemy bombing during the Second World War she had in place by 1946 a comprehensive civil defence structure developed during the war years that was similar in many ways to that of Great Britain and which remained virtually unchanged until 1954. That year an inquiry initiated by the incoming Liberal government cast doubt upon the efficacy of the existing Second World War measures which, though they may have had some vestigial effect against attack by atomic bombs, were patently obsolete in the H-bomb era. Although a non-belligerent state, except as far as membership of NATO compelled belligerency in the cause of mutual defence, Canada was exposed to serious risks from fallout clouds drifting from the large industrial and administrative areas of the United States that were close to her southern border, should they be attacked by the USSR.

    Early in 1957 a report was issued by the government-sponsored ‘Inter Departmental Working Group on War Measures’ that recommended the establishment of a joint structure to ensure the continuity of government and the passive defence of the civil population. Plans for the continuity of government were broadly based and encompassed the maintenance of viable communication links, the preservation of essential records, and measures to ensure the preservation of law and order, the economy and the western system of capitalist democracy. The report also called for a hierarchical network of blast and fallout proof bunkers at Federal, Provincial and local level to protect key government staff who were to implement the plans for national survival during the attack and post-attack phases of nuclear war. The report went on to say that:

    If provision is not made in peacetime for emergency relocation sites, these governments may be unable to function when war starts. There will be no time then to improvise the necessary facilities outside the present capitals. It is therefore recommended that steps should be taken now to develop an emergency government headquarters in the vicinity of Ottawa, a regional emergency headquarters in each province that would include both federal and provincial components as well as an army component, and possibly a number of sector headquarters in each province. The various headquarters will be interconnected by an integrated, government communications network so designed as to permit the exercise of either decentralised or centralised control.

    Previously civil defence had been a community-funded responsibility based upon Second World War preconceptions, but it was soon realized that recovery from the destruction and dislocation of a nuclear war would be beyond the resources of the local communities and that henceforth civil defence should be federally funded.

    In June 1957 John Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservative government formed the Emergency Measures Organization, (EMO) which was charged with implementing the Working Group plans, EMO was at first placed under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Welfare, but in October 1959 responsibility was transferred to the Department of Defense. The Canadian Army took charge of communication, public warning and the detection and analysis of nuclear explosions, paralleling the function of UKWMO in the United Kingdom. The Army also agreed to construct the underground Federal Government Emergency War Headquarters at Carp, near Ottawa, and a series of smaller Regional bunkers.

  3. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Part 2 of 4


    It was presumed in the Canadian war plan that at the outbreak of a nuclear war the first attack would be against the USA, either upon her industrial and administrative homeland or upon US defence bases abroad. The first tactical warning would originate from NORAD headquarters at Cheyenne Mountain and be relayed via the Canadian national bunker at Carp to the provincial centres. Based upon this assumption a number of exercises, code-named TOCSIN, were conducted in the early 1960s. Subsequent analysis of these exercises caused EMO to conclude that:

    If an enemy attack followed a counter force pattern against American Strategic Air Command bases, the Continuity of Government system as it existed between 1960 and 1963 would probably have been adequate, since damage to Canada would be less than in other forms of attack.

    To locate and determine the pattern of nuclear detonations on Canadian soil the Army established the Nuclear Detonation and Fallout Reporting System (NDFRS). This organization functioned in a similar manner to the UKWMO in the United Kingdom. The NDFRS maintained a concentration of Nuclear Detonation Reporting Posts around major military and industrial target areas, supplemented by a further 2,000 posts scattered across the more sparsely populated areas of the country. Information from the reporting posts was monitored by group filter centres, which then transmitted the collated fallout and blast reports to Army prediction centres at the Provincial and Federal bunkers. The Canadian Army established a dedicated national teletype network, the National Survival Attack Warning System, to maintain communications for the NDFRS. The first public warning of attack would, until 1960, be the sounding of the existing Second World War ARP siren system which consisted of some 350 sirens located in the major conurbations. In response to the heightening international tension this system was extended to 1,360 sirens by 1962.


    To ensure the greatest probability of democratic government surviving a total war, if only in an emasculated form, all western countries developed systems of decentralized emergency government with zonal or community based elements, regional headquarters and a central government nucleus, each with a protected bunker for key staff. Under the Canadian system the central or Federal bunker would house the Governor General, the Prime Minister and a group of senior departmental ministers, with larger departmental staffs accommodated in relocation centres elsewhere. In the early recovery phase the Central Government bunker would issue only policy guidelines; its main function was simply one of maintaining morale, to demonstrate that Canada as a nation state continued to exist and that the Canadian government was still in control.

    Day-to-day management of the remaining national resources, and the maintenance of some semblance of social order, would be the responsibility of the regional level bunkers. The areas of responsibility of these regional emergency administrative centres more or less corresponded to the geographical boundaries of the Provinces, except that the Alberta bunker included within its sphere the Yukon and North West Territories. Due to the size and population densities of Ontario and Quebec it was intended to have sub-regional bunkers between the zonal and regional level but this proposal was later abandoned. Each regional bunker was to be the reporting point for between one and eight zone-level bunkers, but most of these were never built, and in any event their function was never fully defined. By October 1964 only two zone bunkers, both in British Columbia, had been completed, but consideration was being given to completion of a further thirteen of the thirty-four originally proposed. Three years later still only nine zone bunkers, each with a target complement of 100 personnel, had been built, Similarly, the lowest level of control, the proposed network of local government emergency headquarters, was never completed, only 160 of the planned 350 being commissioned.

    The Provincial emergency headquarters, built under the code-name BRIDGE, were to function as both secure accommodation for Federal and Provincial officials in each federal region and as army emergency communications centres, with both peacetime and wartime roles. During wartime they would accommodate the relevant elements of civilian government together with Canadian Army command, communication and warning units, The peacetime 15 role was primarily to provide accommodation for the Canadian Forces Communication System and the National Survival Attack Warning System.

    Following the abandonment, early in 1960, of an interim plan to provide temporary accommodation in ten existing government buildings while the permanent bunkers were under construction, financial approval was granted in May to go ahead immediately with a limited programme of just six of the permanent structures Reflecting their peacetime use, sites for these bunkers were surveyed at six army bases at Nanaimo, Penhold, Shilo, Camp Borden, Valcartier and Delbert. All six sites became operational between May and November 1964. In the less vulnerable regions of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island it was initially intended to make radical conversions of existing government buildings but this was never accomplished. Temporary sheltered accommodation was, however, eventually provided in the basements of federal buildings in Regina, Camp Gagetown, Charlottetown, and St John.

    Each permanent, reinforced concrete bunker consisted of two main buildings, a 70,000-square-foot, two-storey receiver building, which was the main structure, and a smaller, 18,000-square-foot remote transmitter building, each covered by substantial earth mounds. Although this form of construction offered only moderate blast protection, the radiation protection factor was in excess of 1000, post-attack radiation being considered the greater hazard and greatest deterrence to rapid recovery. Two designs of building were employed; typified by those at Borden and Nanaimo, which although similar in general layout differed slightly in dimensions. The upper floor of the regional bunkers housed the domestic facilities, including dormitories, catering facilities and a sick bay, while the lower floor contained the main operations room, communications centre and service plant.
  4. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Part 3 of 4


    Planning and construction of the Central Government Emergency War Headquarters, codenamed EASE (Experimental Army Signal Establishment) began in late 1957 and, like the Regional Headquarters, was the responsibility of the Canadian Army Initial plans for a vast, deep underground bunker near Calabogie, to the west of Ottawa, were progressively scaled down as the financial repercussions were assessed, and more moderate plans for a cluster of four smaller, earth-mounded buildings were considered The cost of this plan, too, was found to be prohibitive and the final design, consisting of a single 350-foot- square, four-storey semi-underground structure near Carp, with a smaller, two storey transmitter station at Richardson, was decided upon Teclmical design work was a joint military/civilian effort with the Foundation Company of Canada acting as consulting engineers Excavations for the 100-foot-deep foundations finally got under way during the summer of 1959 and building was completed by December 1961

    The design parameters called for a structure that could be built with reasonable economy, would have moderate blast protection (ie safe against a five megaton bomb with ground zero 1.1 miles away) but that would have a radiation protection factor in excess of 1000, and that would be proof against the disruption caused by the ground wave emanating from a nearby nuclear explosion It was decided that to meet these requirements it would be necessary to bury the building in dry, sandy soil, and the location of such terrain in a primarily hard rock region very much dictated the siting of the bunker To 9 further minimize the ground wave effect, the bunker’s reinforced concrete shell was built on a five-foot-thick layer of coarse gravel and was surrounded on all sides by a gravel envelope External service connections such as water, sewage 9 and electrical cables were connected via flexible couplings that would flex with any movement of the building within its envelope As in most of the US bunkers and communication centres, special sprung mountings were provided for sensitive electronic equipment as well as for more mundane items like toilet pans and wash basins.

    The building design called for immense strength coupled with the maximum functional floor area, and to provide this special care was taken in the design of the concrete pillars that supported the floors These were built to a slender design but had flared capitals and bases to spread the load. Similar care was taken to ensure that the five thousand tons of steel bars that reinforced the concrete shell were properly earthed to avoid spurious electrical interference. The locations of all openings in the walls and floors, from main doorways down to the smallest mounting bracket or pipe or cable duct, were carefully surveyed and cast in situ to ensure that no post-construction cutting or drilling was required that might sever a reinforcing rod and thus destroy the earth continuity. When completed the five-foot-thick concrete roof was covered with ten feet of earth, landscaped to a gentle slope to deflect blast. Although not built deep within a mountain like the major US bunkers, a similar style of blast protection was employed for the main entrance to the Diefenbunker. A long, open-ended tubular approach tunnel, twelve feet in diameter, was constructed at a right angle to the main entrance in such a manner that the blast wave from an explosion would pass right through it without impinging upon the steel blast doors that protected the entrance air lock.

    Two emergency exit routes were also provided, consisting of shafts sealed at the bottom with lightweight doors and filled with loose sand, which would have to be dug away before escape was possible.

    A unique feature of the Carp bunker was that it was designed to automatically shut down and seal itself off from outside air if any one of a number of detection systems sensed the effect of a nuclear explosion over nearby Ottawa. High-speed solenoids operated by compressed nitrogen would close and lock the ventilation inlet valves in less than half a second if the detection systems were triggered by gamma radiation, blast overpressure or the infra-red heat wave from a detonation. Once closed down the air-conditioning system could maintain a viable atmosphere within the building using recirculated air for a minimum of three days. Thereafter, when external radiation levels had diminished, the bunker’s filtration system could provide uncontaminated air for an indefinite period. During peacetime operation electricity was drawn from the Ontario grid, but incorporated within the bunker on the second floor was a powerhouse containing four 327 1KW diesel generators together with a forty-day reserve of fuel, An internal 32,000-gallon reserve of drinking water was also provided, supplemented by pumping equipment that could draw unlimited supplies of pure, uncontaminated water from springs 130 feet underground.

    Conditions within the bunker, although not luxurious, were far from austere; floors in the domestic areas were either carpeted or tiled and most rooms had concealed lighting and a subdued colour scheme The lower floor was principally a storage area, but also contained the fuel and water storage tanks and pumping equipment, together with water treatment plant, waste compactors and a small morgue. Much of the second floor was put over to domestic facilities including a kitchen and dining room area that could seat 300 personnel. The main powerhouse, containing the four diesel generators, was also on this floor. The third floor was the nerve centre of the bunker and was dominated by the communications centre and a central operations room that was the hub of the National Attack Warning System. Adjacent to the operations centre was a private suite of rooms for the Prime Minister, while on the uppermost, or entrance, level was private accommodation for the Governor General and offices for the various government departments represented in the bunker. At the end of a short tunnel leading from the lower level of the Carp bunker a huge safe-door seals the entrance to a 400-square-foot vault, built deep underground as an extension to the main structure, which in the event of global war would have been the last repository for the gold reserves and essential records of the Bank of Canada.
  5. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Part 4 of 4


    Until the late 1950s when the threat posed by the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) turned strategic war planning on its head, Canada subscribed to the same policy of civil evacuation accepted by the USA and to a lesser extent by Great Britain. This policy was based upon assumptions formed during the height of the Second World War blitz, modified only by experience gained from the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It was assumed that the North American Air Defence System would give three hours’ notice of impending attack by manned Soviet bombers, which was judged sufficient time to evacuate all the major Canadian cities that were considered to be prime targets. With the advent of the ICBM, this warning time was reduced to just fifteen minutes. With evacuation out of the question, any requirement for the Canadian government to provide large communal shelters, which it could in any case not afford, was obviated. Instead, government proposed that the best protection would be by means of individual home shelters, built at private expense. Although there was much public opposition to this plan, the example of Switzerland, where such provision was mandatory, showed that such a scheme was viable. Federal government was consistently unwilling to subsidize private shelter construction, or, despite a concerted press campaign, to incorporate public shelters in the Montreal Metro or the Ontario Subway, although later it did agree, following the US example, to survey government buildings to assess their potential for adaptation as fallout shelters.

    After the psychological shock of the Cuban missile crisis there was a rapid de escalation of international tension and a parallel decline in the influence and importance of EMO. This decline in status was coincident with a transfer of responsibility from the Privy Council Office to the Ministry of Defense Production in 1963. Early in the following year a far from radical modification to the EMO war plan was announced, which included five major proposals:
    1. The Attack Warning System would be completed.
    2. The Emergency Broadcasting Facility would be completed, with remote emergency transmitters in hardened bunkers.
    3. The ten Regional bunkers would be completed.
    4. Strategic stockpiles of medical supplies would be established.
    5. Basic public shelter system similar to that proposed in the United States would be established, consisting principally of identified basements in suitable Federal buildings. These would not be provided with ventilation or sanitation facilities.

    By 1966 the threat of war had receded and all the old preconceptions which assumed that nuclear war would be sudden and unannounced were replaced by the concept of progressive escalation. Within EMO there was a distinct shift of emphasis towards ‘wartime planning with a peacetime application’, and in the 1967 budget government announced a drastic reduction in Civil Defence expenditure. A new, five-year ‘Canada Survival Plan’ was put forward which included the refurbishment of the by now obsolescent Diefenbunker and construction of the four outstanding Regional bunkers proposed three years earlier. While a certain amount of work was completed at the Central Government bunker, financial constraints prevented any progress on the Regional bunkers and, although the budget for this work was nominally deferred to the following year for several successive years, it was eventually formally abandoned in 1975.

    More dramatic changes were to result from the Phoenix Report, which was a document issued as a conclusion to the CEMO conference of 1969. This proposed a national survival and recovery plan that went beyond a simple response to nuclear attack, widening the remit of the Canada Emergency Measures Organization to include response to ‘anything that tends to create instability in our social, political or economic culture’. Despite an overt drift towards civil disaster planning, EMO’s principal aim was still to deal with the effects of nuclear war, and the published priorities of the organization were:
    1. The maintenance of national sovereignty.
    2. Defence of North America in conjunction with the USA.
    3. Maintenance of defence responsibilities within NATO.
    4. Peacekeeping activities.

    By the late 1970s, with its budget cut by some eighty per cent and renamed ‘Emergency Planning Canada’ (EPC), the old Emergency Measures Organization had become a true civil emergency/wartime contingency organization. With the threat of war diminishing to a level of irrelevancy, the vast majority of its slender resources were orientated towards civil emergencies. By 1978 nuclear war planning in Canada had sunk to a sorry state; the National Survival and Attack Warning Systems were under nominal care and maintenance, but were marginal and rapidly deteriorating, and the viability of the National and Regional bunkers which were also suffering from serious neglect, was doubtful.

    This state of affairs was brought to an abrupt reversal at the end of the decade by developments in Europe and East Asia. The deployment of Russian 5520 missiles against targets in western Europe and the provocative deployment of US Pershing and cruise missiles in Britain and elsewhere, together with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, saw the end of détente with the USSR and a revival of superpower brinkmanship Joint US/Canadian war plans were hurriedly drawn up and allocated more realistic budgets. Whilst Canadian government propaganda emphasized the peacetime function of EPC, actual priority was once again given to planning for war. An assessment of the existing emergency infrastructure made in 1983 revealed that, despite the cutbacks of the previous ten years, most of the bunkers were still viable, but that the mechanical plant, much of which had not been run for many years, was in poor condition and the communications equipment had deteriorated badly When the bunkers were first fitted out the risk to electronic equipment from electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) was not fully appreciated, and it was felt that much of the equipment within the bunkers was not sufficiently protected. It was also discovered that the government essential records procedure, which was intended to ensure that copies of all the most important central government archives were maintained at the Carp bunker, had not been adhered to. Between 1985 and 1987 updated maintenance agreements were concluded with the Canadian Army and new operating and manning procedures agreed. Once again consideration was given to the completion of the outstanding regional bunkers and preliminary plans were prepared for at least one of these as part of a Maritime Forest Complex near Fredericton, but by the end of 1983 this proposal was shelved. When the EPC bunker network was finally closed down in 1992 it was essentially the same as it had been in 1968.

    As the Soviet Union collapsed towards the end of the 1980s the role of EPC was refocused on civil emergencies, and in August 1988 it was decided to transfer the HQ function progressively from the somewhat austere bunker at Carp to a modern, unprotected office suite in Jackson Building, Ottawa. The Diefenbunker and the six regional bunkers were finally closed down in 1995 and disposed of by the government with rather unseemly haste. As a symbolic gesture to wash away Canada’s cold war history, the government proposed the complete destruction of the Carp bunker, but popular pressure led to its preservation and it is now restored as a national heritage site.

    An extract from N.J. McCamley, Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers (London: Leo Cooper, 2002)
  6. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

    And here I thought that Canada was made up of log forts and log bunkers:D . I won't be able to buy one either. I'll just keep digging in the pit.:2thumb:

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