Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum

Entrance to Diefenbunker

There has been a lag in posts…because we did a magical vacation to Disney.  Yes, I said magical and meant it.  It was beyond my expectations of awesomeness and has taken me days to process.  Needless to say, I am behind on postings.  So, to get back in the swing of things, I wanted to mention our trip to the Cold War Museum in Carp, Ontario earlier this summer.

We ventured to Carp to check out this museum and hit up a farmers market.  We decided to tackle the bunker first and save farmers market ice cream and snacks as an after tour treat.  Admission was reasonable, with children 5 and under free.  So, really we paid for two adults at $17.50 each.  And, parking was free.  Not too shabby.  I was concerned that the bunker would not hold the kid’s attention, but that was not the case at all.  Upon arriving, they were mesmerized that we were entering a building underground and called it a “spy cave”.  Instant cool points.

We did the self guided tour, as wrangling three littles while listening to a tour guide sounded less appealing than trying to bathe three feral cats.  The map provided gave a suggested route and descriptions of each area of the building.  The arrows on the floor made it pretty foolproof.  Each room was full of informative signs about the usage of the space and if possible, still set up like how it would have been used had an emergency attack made bunker life a necessity.  If you are more of an audio/visual learner, you can request to loan an iPad with tour information free of charge (need an valid ID to use as collateral).

There are four floors to the tour and stairs, so keep that in mind if stairs are problematic for anyone going in your group.  There are bathrooms, albeit poorly flushing toilets, located throughout the facility.  You will notice the collection toilet to fund new plumbing at the entrance to the tour.   The kids were provided with scavenger hunt picture maps with five items to find on each floor.  Genius idea….this made each floor a treasure hunt while ensuring mom and dad got to properly look around and explore as well.  Any signs that were too long to read while trying to follow the little explorers were photographed to read later.

I will warn anyone with small children that there is a spy room where, located right in the center, there is a bust covered with a pillowcase in which eye holes and a mouth hole have been cut out.   It is meant to depict an infamous Russian defector (Igor Gouzenko) in Canada whom some credit as the catalyst for the Cold War.  This did concern our little little, at about 22 months old, who was unsure what to make of the bust. She quickly learned to say “bad guy” over and over again for the rest of the tour, constantly looking for him in every room. I guess that is a parenting win…we added two new vocabulary words for her everyday use.

The rooms also prompt questions from kids to make you feel old, like what a VHS tape is, what the heck a rotary telephone does, and why there are those funny disks (ash trays) in the War Cabinet Room.  Seeing old technology and “cutting edge” ideas makes one leave for an appreciation for how far technology has advanced our ways of life.  I feel for the price of admission, this activity was well worth the quality family time we took to tour it.  If you are in the area, definitely check it out.  Oh, and at the end of the tour, the kids trade in their pencils and checklists (if they don’t want them anymore) for a miniature spy glass keychain.  It was a nice touch to end the trip.

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