Researching Top Secret Facilities and Finding Things in Walls
Welcome back to the bunker blog!
We have some exciting news this week!
Number one, we have successfully begun beta testing our escape rooms! AND we have set a date for our GRAND OPENING: April 6th, come out to the bunker and experience War Games, a matched set of two new escape rooms, at Enter the Bunker. We will also have tours and laser tag available all afternoon! More information will be released over the next week so you’ll be able to plan your day at the bunker.
Oh, also? We have loads of stuff planned for March break: tours every day at 10 and 2! Laser tag on Tuesday and Thursday at 11am and 1pm! And then Laser tag AGAIN Friday night (the usual time) at 6 and 8! But there’s a twist: We’re introducing our first-ever adults-only laser tag time slot. You asked for it, it’s here: play a game of laser tag with other fully-grown humans, no teens allowed. (Teenagerss totally allowed at family play laser tag at 6pm, or during the week.)
Now – on to the blog at hand.
Researching a Top Secret Facility
Tourism shoulder season is quickly approaching, and the bunker is looking forward to greeting visitors from out-of-province, as well as more Nova Scotians. In preparation, I have been busy researching the bunker and its history. There are loads of materials in the bunker full of information about how the many machines that run the building are maintained and operated. We have thousands of maps, technical schemata, and blueprints to help us learn about the building and its role in Canadian civil defence efforts of the mid-twentieth century.
It can get difficult researching a top secret facility at the public archives.
Last week I visited the Nova Scotia Public Archives looking for any information I could find about the bunker – and it only took me an hour to read everything they had. Here’s what I found:
Two letters. One from a high ranking military official at CFS Debert, and one from the Nova Scotia public archivist. Dated c. 1962, mid-construction of the bunker.
The first letter is in response to the inquiry of the public archivist about some rumoured activities at CFS Debert. The military official responds with a detailed list of lands, cost to purchase, and buildings on site. Conspicuously, no new construction, and certainly no nuclear fallout shelter, is mentioned.
But it gets more interesting!
Buried in the card catalogue, in the Communities section, under “Debert,” is the following entry:
“Discussion of building an underground shelter to house duplicates of federal and provincial gvt files and as a place for the government to evacuate to in case of war at Debert. Secret construction is going on there. May 1961.”
Perfect! Exactly the topic we were looking for! Except…
No reference. That’s it, that’s the entire card. It doesn’t point to a file, or a fond, or a microfilm.
So I took the card to the archivist on duty (or, well, took the archivist to the card) and asked about the reference. The archivist texted another archivist, and the response?
Sometimes people used to come into the archives, or call in, and tell the archivists things they thought they should know. These oral histories were dutifully recorded onto cards and added to the catalogue – with no reference, because there was none. They didn’t even take down the name of the informant.
So this was, in effect, a tasty morsel of gossip that is now forever recorded in our public archives. Amazing.
And this is probably what prompted the archivist to write to Debert and inquire after activities at the base in 1962, garnering the conspicuously detailed report with no mention of any construction, bunker, or government hideouts to be found.
And that was it, that was all the information there was to be found on the bunker. Which is to say the secret was kept slightly better than the bunker in Carp, which was splashed across the front page of the Toronto Telegram, September 11th 1961, with the headline “This is the Diefenbunker!”
But only slightly.
Thing Found in Wall!
As we prepare for one of our next projects in the bunker, the Fallout team has been busy clearing out a few rooms. In one space, we had to take out a small dividing wall to open up the room and allow for some new features to be added. And what should our team find behidn the drywall but…
A beer bottle.
A beer bottle with something inside…
After much debate, the team decided to break open the bottle and find out what was in there.
Ladies and gentlefolk, we found a verified message in a bottle, hidden inside the wall of the Diefenbunker. How cool is that!
Here it is:
And in case you can’t read the 56 and a half year old pencil:
“Oct 29 – 1962
Age 43 years
Cold as hell out.”
According to the historical data, that day ranged from 13 to 4 degrees Celsius.
So maybe not so cold…
But we’re familiar with how chilly this bunker can get, and at that point it wasn’t even completed!
If you know Roland’s family, or knew Roland, let us know – and please let his family know! We’d love to show them his message.
There is STUFF in the WALLS.
This is not the first time we have found something hidden in there, either! About 5 years ago, Jonathan found an envelope of TOP SECRET documents hidden in a crawlspace next to the trash incinerator!
Public bunker tours every Wednesday!
Come on down and explore underground. Take an hour-long tour of this top-secret facility and learn all about the bunker’s role in defending Canada against the nuclear attack that (thankfully) never came.