Since June 27, 1998, the Diefenbunker has been operating as a one-of-a-kind museum and national historic site. For 25 years, we have proudly offered an immersive look into the past by bringing Canada’s Cold War artifacts and stories to life. The Diefenbunker has held decades of Canadian history and hundreds of thousands of visitors, and has borne witness to countless stories, memories, and transformational experiences.
Today, we celebrate 25 years as a museum and national historic site. We are grateful to all the visitors, donors, partners, founders, and community supporters who have helped us get this far. We endeavour to continue preserving the past in order to share important lessons for future generations.
For our 25th anniversary, we are pleased to share anecdotes, photos, and memories related to the Diefenbunker as shared by visitors, staff, members, volunteers, and other museum supporters.
Our family visits the Diefenbunker to feel a little bit closer to and remember my Poppy who worked on the Avro Arrow project and remained a lifelong aviation enthusiast. He proudly brought us grandkids there when an Avro Arrow exhibit was featured. And there were many more trips over the years to the museum he felt tied to. Now, we continue to bring the next generations to learn about their great-grandpa.
I worked as the Education and Volunteers Manager from 2007–2009. I still love trying to explain to people where I worked. I adored having a backstage pass to this remarkable space that captured such a tumultuous moment in time. One big memory for me was when we hosted a screening of the movie Passchendaele as part of the Genie Awards.
Back in 2018 I had the opportunity to come underground as a practicum student through Carleton and it was one of the best experiences of my entire life! It inspired me to make a whole career change. I will never forget the first time I walked through the doors, down the Blast Tunnel, and entered a little slice of the past.
My first time taking the tour at the Diefenbunker was so magical. A Google review I had read said that there’s about 2 hours worth of stuff to see. I ended up spending 4+ hours! Much like an art exhibit, I could spend HOURS with my sketchpad studying and appreciating the curation that went into the Diefenbunker you see today. I live about 7 hours away, south of Toronto, and would love to spend every weekend here. Every chance I have I make sure to visit the most captivating museum in Ontario and quite possibly Canada!
I spent a year as an interpreter and educational programmer, and it never got old watching imaginations come alive as visitors of all ages explored the bunker. I will never forget my first day of work, meeting my new coworker and walking down the Blast Tunnel together. Three months later, we went on our first date. Three cities later, and we’re back in Ottawa with two kids, and it won’t be long before they’re chasing Agent X [at Spy Camp]!
Although I have lots of memorable moments working as a guide at the Diefenbunker, my favourite memory is actually as a visitor. My husband and I came to watch a play in the Bank of Canada Vault — Dief the Chief: October 1962 by Pierre Brault. It was such an incredible play and, combined with the environment, it’s one of the most unique and memorable pieces of theatre I’ve seen. We were both blown away and will never forget the experience.
It’s not everyday that you can visit a real nuclear bunker, basically in your backyard. A very cool piece of history with an important purpose of reminding us of the importance of peace.
I am a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and through the stories and exhibits in the Diefenbunker, I am able to visually and immersively educate my children on how security, liberty, and freedom of people come at great preparations and, occasionally, sacrifices.
My main function at the Diefenbunker was game master of Escape the Diefenbunker. Sometimes, I took on other responsibilities, such as the time a company rented the bunker for their Christmas party where guests were unknowingly brought to the bunker. Here, they were asked a series of questions, and depending on their answers, were sent either to the Vault, where Santa and his elves awaited them, or to the elevator, where I was dressed as the Grim Reaper and delivered them to purgatory on the 400 Level to listen to some really cheesy music. This company knew how to party! This is just one of my fond memories.
My twins learned to read a map at the bunker, know that bunkers provide shelter from bombs and nuclear fall-out, and appreciate the value of emergency preparedness — all life skills that have benefitted them greatly at daycare, family camping trips, and, most important of all, adopting a safety-first attitude and posture.
I worked at the Diefenbunker from 2006 to 2009, first as the Education Officer, then later as the Public Programs and Public Relations Manager. I have a lot of great memories from my time working here, specifically when I helped develop the Cold War store and a fun role-playing scenario to help train the guides. It was a great experience and I was proud to be a part of it.
If you wish to submit your favourite Diefenbunker memories, photos, or stories with us from the last 25 years, please email email@example.com, or you can tag us @diefenbunker on social media.