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Thread: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    This weekend is Open Doors Ottawa, and we went to visit the Central Emergency Government Headquarters; a Cold War relic from the late 1950s and early 1960s. This was also known as Canadian Forces Station, Carp and is now known as the Diefenbunker, after the Prime Minister that established the facility. It was decommissioned in 1994 and now houses a Cold War museum.

    This top-secret installation was meant to house key members of the goverment, senior civil servants and military personal in case of a nuclear attack on Canada (located between the USA and the USSR, there was a good chance that nuclear arms would cross Canada in the event of a nuclear war). The complex was designed to house 535 people for a month after a nuclear attack. It was designed to withstand the heat, shock waves and radiation from a blast as close as 1.6km / 1 mile away.

    Back in those days, the Distant Early Warning (DEW) radar stations were thought to give three hours of warning of imminent nuclear attack. The key officials would be marshalled at the main train station, not far from the Parliament Buildings and moved by train to the complex. Canada was a gold reserve system nation at the time and the Bank of Canada had a large vault to house 800 tons of gold bars there. The Canadian government and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation established an emergency broadcast system that would be able to control all CBC radio stations and broadcast to the people of Canada in an emergency situation.

    The facility had medical facilities, eating, sleeping and work areas.

    This image is the nuclear blast tunnel that was also the entrance to the complex. It is 115m / 378ft long and the complex entrance is at right angles to where I took this image. Huge steel blast doors prevent damage to the complex.


    Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada


    Needless to say, there were hundreds of people visiting while we were there. I shot everything with my f/2.8 14 - 14mm lens. It nicely allowed me to step in front of the people and made it look like I had the place all to myself...

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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    Great shot Manfred - I like it a lot! Is it my eyes or could it use a slight rotation to the left (although I think a more slightly more exaggerated rotation to the right might give the image a little more abstract)?

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    It looks a pretty grim place. Don't know what they planned on doing with the gold bars maybe they
    could have a couple of tons each. I think you have done well to convey the feeling of loneliness.

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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    Really nice photo, Manfred! Thanks also for the detailed explanation.

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    Stinky's Avatar
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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    Nice shot, Great DOF and lighting.

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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    Very interesting! YOu have captured the mood very well, nice photo!

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    Thanks everyone - here are a few more shots that I took. Again, all in fairly crowded conditions with the f/2.8 14-24mm Nikkor. Lighting was provided by those sickly old fluorescent tubes; and I find that the colours complemented the atmosphere in this underground bunker.

    The operating room. The best 1960's technology money can buy:

    Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada



    A closeup of the front panel of an x-ray machine from the early 1960's:

    Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada


    The serving area of the cafeteria. What a nice and cheerful place...

    Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada



    The Prime Minister's bedroom - in character with the minimalist interior decorating style. Pretty well everyone else got a bunk bed.

    Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada



    A glance into the Bank of Canada vault; alas I did not see any gold bars. I focused on the two tables in the back and DoF took care of the rest. The shot I have of the vault door is interesting, but not from a compositional standpoint, so I didn't bother posting it.

    Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada


    The exterior wall of the Bank of Canada vault had a gap in it (to protect from tunneling break in attempts?) with mirrors at 45 degrees at the end of each passage. Just wide enough for a person to walk through.

    Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    Very illuminating documentary photos, Manfred. Well done!

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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    Why would anyone want to save politicians? Were used car salesmen also welcomed?

    Another of the Diefenbunkers north of where I lived in Penhold Alberta was sold by the feds to a developer. When it subsequently went up for sale there were stories a criminal motorcycle group was bidding on it so the federal government bought it back and destroyed it.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Central Emergency Government Headquarters - Carp, Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
    Why would anyone want to save politicians? Were used car salesmen also welcomed?

    Another of the Diefenbunkers north of where I lived in Penhold Alberta was sold by the feds to a developer. When it subsequently went up for sale there were stories a criminal motorcycle group was bidding on it so the federal government bought it back and destroyed it.
    I understand that the feds bought it up for considerably more than they paid for it (hardly a surprise) and then permanently sealed the entrances.

    Doing a bit of research, the Canadian version was a number of bunkers across the country to house key government officials; including provincial and municipal ones was started by the Diefenbaker government in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was for politicians (5 cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister and the Governor General), but no families. The key Deputy Ministers, so staff and a lot of military to run the place were also to be housed there. Quite a few bunkers were built, the one in Carp was by far the largest. Funding was cut over time after the Cuban Missile Crisis when things seemed to cool down. The Trudeau government finally shut them down in the early to mid-1990s.

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