The Diefenbunker is a four-story, 100,000 square foot underground bunker, built between 1959 and 1961. During the Cold War, it was intended to house 535 Canadian government officials and military officers in the event of a nuclear war. It served as Canadian Forces Station Carp until 1994.
For years it protected us from 75 feet underground and we knew virtually nothing about it. Today, it operates as a not-for-profit, charitable museum and boasts award winning tours and programs.
Visit us to experience how close we came to a nuclear disaster. A lot has changed since 1961. There is no other museum like the Diefenbunker!
The Diefenbunker was designated a national historic site in 1994, due to its significance as Canada’s most important Cold War history site, and its unique construction. When the Department of National Defence decommissioned Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Carp in the same year, the building was stripped of its furnishings, machinery, and all moveable objects. The empty building was then sold to the Township of West Carleton.
The volunteers from the Village of Carp began to give tours of the bunker in 1995 and 1996, in order to raise funds for a new community library, to be built in one of the Diefenbunker’s exterior buildings. The tours were a huge success, and drew in thousands of people over the first few days. A group of volunteers formed the Diefenbunker Development Group in 1997 to discuss the possibility of preserving the building and opening a Cold War museum on site.
With the dedication of a group of volunteers, many of whom were former employees of the bunker, the Diefenbunker incorporated as Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum in 1997, a private, non-profit and registered charity. In 1998, the Diefenbunker Museum was open to the public year-round, operated entirely by volunteers.
The mandate of the Diefenbunker is to increase throughout Canada and the world, interest in and a critical understanding of the Cold War, by preserving the bunker as a national historic site, and operating a Cold War museum.
In 2010, the Diefenbunker underwent a massive capital campaign to retrofit the building’s fire systems. Because of the unique design of the building, fire code had limited it to a capacity of 60 people. After the building retrofit, the Diefenbunker was able to increase its capacity to 460 people. At this point, the museum began to offer self-guided tours, audio guides, large events, rentals, and increased operating hours.
The Diefenbunker is still a private, non-profit and a registered charity, with a team of over 50 dedicated volunteers. It is operated year-round by a full-time staff of ten, and a governing Board of Directors. The museum is a member of the Ottawa Museum Network, the Ontario Museum Association, and the Canadian Museums Association.
Wednesday to Friday
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
*For the best experience, we suggest at least one hour to explore the Diefenbunker. The admissions desk closes 30 minutes before the museum closes. Tickets cannot be purchased after this time.
*We highly recommend buying your tickets online in advance of your visit to the museum to ensure there are still spots available.
Senior (60+): $16.50
Student (18+): $13.00
Youth (6-17): $11.00
Family Rate (2 Adults, 5 Youth): $48.50
Child 5 and under: Free
Annual Pass/Membership: Free
Parking is always free!