A Word of Gratitude
The Diefenbunker Alumni Association is grateful to the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum for giving us this space on its web site and for the encouragement it has provided to the establishment of the Association.
The Diefenbunker (more properly called the Central Emergency Government Headquarters or Canadian Forces Station Carp) was constructed between 1959 and 1961 and remained in operation until 1994.
Designed to serve as a protected headquarters for the Federal Government in the event of a nuclear war, the Central Emergency Government Headquarters was constructed to house 535 persons, including the Prime Minister and the Governor General in a locked-down condition for up to thirty days. A wide range of government operations were catered for within the bunker including a War Cabinet; up to 20 departments and agencies; an Emergency Broadcast capability run by the CBC; and a vault in which to store Canada’s gold reserves.
Supporting this principal design function, the Diefenbunker also served as an important node in the Canadian Forces strategic telecommunications system. Approximately 100 military personnel were on site 24/7 for the life of the Diefenbunker, manning this telecommunications responsibility. This function of the facility and the personnel who served it, became Canadian Forces Carp.
In addition to the bunker in Carp, there were a number of supporting facilities in the region and across the country. Taken as a whole, they comprised Canada’s Continuity of Constitutional Government Program during the Cold War.
The Diefenbunker Alumni Association
The Diefenbunker Alumni Association has been established as a forum for those who served in the Diefenbunker and/or its companion facilities during their operational years, and for those who were closely associated with their operation, to exchange memories and to renew friendships.
Categories of Alumni
Regular: Those personnel, military or civilian, who served in the Diefenbunker or one of the associated facilities, during their operational lives.
Associate: Those personnel, military or civilian, who served in positions, government or private, that were closely associated with the operation of the Diefenbunker and/or the other related facilities, during their operational lives.
Honourary: Those persons who were instrumental in preserving the Diefenbunker as a museum after its operational life ended.
There are no fees associated with membership in the Association, however, persons wishing to gain membership must satisfy one of the category criteria outlined above.
The point of contact for all enquiries pertaining to the Association is Mike Braham who may be reached at email@example.com or at (613) 592-4906. Enquiries about the Association are not to be directed to the Diefenbunker Museum.
This Newsletter for the Diefenbunker Alumni Association is designed to consolidate information pertaining to the Association into a single location; and, to provide a forum for Association members to share their thoughts on their past experience with one of Canada’s Cold War Bunkers and to bring others up to date on what they are now doing to stay out of trouble.
The “Diefenbunker” (The Central Emergency Government Headquarters) was operated by Canadian Forces Station Carp. The three-headed dog of Greek mythology, Cerberus was emblazoned on the CFS Carp crest. To the Greeks Cerberus was the guardian of the gates to Hell. Appropriate as it was, the question was – In which direction was Hell? – outside the Station where a nuclear war would have been raging, or inside where the survivors would have had to perform their duties not knowing what had become of their families and loved ones!
The wavy blue and white lines at the bottom represent the Carp River (or perhaps the River Styx). The twelve visible maple leaves are for each of the provinces and (at that time) two territories. The motto means to communicate and protect, each major functions of the CFS Carp.
The 3rd Annual Reunion of the Alumni Association was held in the Cafeteria of the CFS Carp site on Saturday 25 April 2015. This event was the largest reunion to date with 90 paying guests in attendance.
The reunion included former members of CFS Carp who served in the facility at its opening in 1961 right up to those who were serving at its closure in 1994. In addition, there were several in attendance who had served in the other six Regional Emergency Government Headquarters. A number of attendees had travelled a good distance to be present, but the record holder was Brenda Langman who hailed from British Columbia.
In addition to the formal reunion, a number of alumni took part in a pre-reunion gathering at the former All Ranks Mess (now the Huntley Social Centre).
The gathering offered hearty congratulations to Howie and Helga Pierce who were celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary at the event. Howie was Chief Clerk at CFS Carp from 1984-88.
Henriette Riegel, the Executive Director of the Diefenbunker Museum and Patron of the Association, welcomed the guests and thanked them for their service and the heritage that they had left behind in the Bunker. She provided an overview of the Museum’s activities over the past year, noting that it had enjoyed a record attendance level in excess of 55,000 visitors. She thanked the Association for its donations toward the acquisition of an artifact mounting system that will provide the Museum with a more professional and secure way to display artifacts and art work.
Mike Braham, the apparent Secretary for life of the Association, added his welcome. For the many first-time attendees, he provided some background to the founding of the Association. He added words of congratulation to Brenda Langman for her creation and management of the CFS Carp Face Book site that was proving to be a highly successful way for members to keep in touch. He noted that the Museum, in honour of the contribution of Association members to the seven Diefenbunkers during their operational lives, had named one of its permanent galleries, the Alumni Association Gallery.
Ralph Cameron, one of the Volunteer Amateur Radio Group members in the Diefenbunker, provided a presentation on the activities of the Group, noting that it was trying to maintain the telecommunications heritage left behind by those who had served in the Bunkers. His presentation generated a lot of interest and the promise of considerable follow-up to clarify questions on issues that have been lost in the passage of time.
This reunion, like previous events, provided attendees with an opportunity to reminisce about times past and to reacquaint with former colleagues. The highly successful evening was culminated by the cutting of a commemorative cake provided by Ms. Riegel and the Museum Staff.
The second annual reunion of the Diefenbunker Alumni Association was held on Saturday, 24 May in the Cafeteria of the Diefenbunker. Sixty-six persons attended the event, including 32 alumni plus families and Museum staff. It was interesting to note that about half of the alumni attendees had not attended the first reunion. The Perry’s who had travelled from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia were recognised as the attendees who had travelled the farthest to be at the event.
Mike Braham, organiser of the event, welcomed attendees and encouraged them to keep spreading the word to others who might wish to join the Association. He noted the Alumni web page on the Museum site and the CFS Carp Facebook site initiated by Brenda Langman. Both of these serve as useful sources of information on the Association and the latter, as an ongoing means of communication.
He asked those that had not yet done so, to consider contributing their information to the Alumni Booklet – a hard copy of the latest edition was on sale at the event and it can also be found on the web page.
His efforts to find a replacement for himself as Association Secretary were met with a deafening silence, however, the offer stands should anyone be interested.
He then introduced the Association Patron and Executive Director of the Museum, Henriette Riegel. She welcomed those present and expressed her pleasure with the contributions that the Association makes to the ongoing operation of the Museum through the provision of an historical memory.
She provided an update on activities at the Museum, noting the wide range of activities aimed at attracting a broad-based customer attendance, which currently stands at about 50,000 per year. She reported on the various grants that the Museum had earned over the past year as well as a number of prestigious awards as a tourist site.
On a less positive note, she reported that the costs for running the Museum were rising as the aging infrastructure requires more maintenance or replacement. On that note, she asked attendees to assist in fund-raising efforts by seeking support from their various contacts who might be interested in helping out.
Gary Dowd then provided some background on a paper that he, Paul Vaillancourt and Len Grummett had assembled to record the history of STRAD. He presented a copy to Ms. Riegel for the Museum’s archives. He also presented her with a copy of “Semaphore to Satellite” in memory of Cpl Clifford Chase (Cpl – RCCS) who served in the bunker 1962-66.
Dave Noble, a volunteer at the Diefenbunker and a former Army Engineer Officer, and emergency planner with the Province of Alberta, was then introduced. He told the audience that he was in the process of putting together a small book on the unique construction of the Bunker. He asked if any of those attending had information on the construction or knew anyone who did, he would be grateful for some information.
Following these presentations, those who had asked for a tour of the Bunker joined Mike Braham for an interesting walk-around that provided some useful insights into life at the Bunker as it was and as it might have been in the event of a full emergency.
During the course of the evening, there were sandwiches, veggies, fruit and desserts on hand as well as a cash-bar and a small selection of items from the Museum store for sale.
The evening wound up at about 2100 and seemed to have been enjoyed by all.
The inaugural event of the Diefenbunker Alumnus Association was held on Saturday, 4 May 2013 in the Diefenbunker Cafeteria. Eighty persons, including fifty alumni attended the event from 6-9 pm.
The evening was catered by The Swan at Carp Restaurant and a delicious and varied selection of tempting finger foods was served.
The highlight of the evening was seeing and hearing former colleagues meet after many years to exchange memories of their time in CFS Carp and/or one of the other Regional Emergency Headquarters.
Welcoming remarks were provided by Henriette Riegel, the Association’s patron and Executive Director of the Diefenbunker Museum. She reviewed the variety of active programs being undertaken by the Museum to keep this icon of the Cold War alive to a generation that was born after the end of the Cold war. She noted that last year had seen over 50,000 visitors pass through the Museum doors.
Mike Braham, the organiser of the event, also had a few words, challenging the group to spread the word about the Association to others not in attendance, and to think about how to keep the Association alive and well and relevant.
Several of the participants took themselves on personal tours of the Bunker to visit former offices or accommodations while others took advantage of a guided tour to gain a better idea of how the Museum is keeping the memories alive.
Throughout the evening, the gathering was entertained by a series of pictures of Alumni and of the Bunker and other, related facilities projected on to a screen.
All in all, it was an enjoyable evening that re-kindled many memories.
The purpose of the Diefenbunker Alumni Booklet (pdf) is to record the service and reminiscences of those who served in, or who were associated with the Diefenbunker, or one of the Regional Emergency Government Headquarters during their operational lives from 1961-1994.
It is hoped that it will serve as the basis for an ongoing sharing of memories and experiences and that it might prompt a desire to renew acquaintances.
Explore photos of the Diefenbunker and associated facilities through the years.
We would love to post your photos. If you have pictures of the period that you would like to share with your friends and perhaps with the Museum, please bring or send them to Mike Braham at firstname.lastname@example.org.