In honour of the Diefenbunker’s 25th anniversary, we continue to highlight 25 artifacts from within our collections. This week, we are featuring a photograph from the Canadian Civil Defence College from our archives.
In the early 1950s, following the Second World War, there was a push for the federal government to continue focusing on the growing national concern surrounding civil defence in the Nuclear Age. As a result, the Canadian Civil Defence College was established in 1954, in Arnprior, Ontario, as a way to address civil defence education and emergency preparedness training.
The school taught approximately 2,000 students each year on an array of topics including wartime planning, emergency food distribution, rescue operations, medical techniques, and nuclear warfare insight. The Canadian Civil Defence College operated until 1972, when it was renamed the Canadian Emergency Measures College, subsequently refocusing its teachings toward peacetime emergencies.
This black and white film photograph depicts three men in suits, each with name tags, participating in a Geiger counter demonstration. A large-scale map can be seen on the wall directly behind them. Affixed to this, in the upper left corner, is the Canadian civil defence logo. The Geiger counter in the photograph is being held by two of the men, while the man on the far right is holding the Geiger counter’s probe, indicating that he was likely the primary individual giving the demonstration at the time of the photo. Geiger counters are instruments for detecting radiation levels that were predominantly used during the Cold War era. They were frequently issued to civil defence organizations by the federal government in an effort to provide institutions with the necessary equipment needed to train specialists of civil defence work.
Emergency preparedness training has continued to evolve throughout the years with changing world conditions. With this, the college underwent several title changes to better suit the new programs being offered at the time. These programs provided up-to-date teachings that more accurately aligned with advancing emergency management and preparedness needs in Canada.
Stay tuned as we continue to celebrate our 25th anniversary by uncovering stories from our museum’s collections.