Within its bowels, the Diefenbunker housed everything required to maintain the affairs of state, including an operations centre, government department offices, a Cabinet meeting room, a vault for the Bank of Canada's gold supply, and a CBC emergency broadcast studio, as well as all the necessary living quarters, lavatories, a cafeteria, a chapel, an infirmary, a generator and machinery room, food storage spaces, and decontamination facilities. Despite its size, space within the Diefenbunker was so tight that only the Prime Minister and the Governor General were accorded the 'luxury' of small, spartan private suites; indeed, even the Prime Minister's wife was not allowed to accompany her husband into the bunker in the event of a nuclear war, a situation that is said to have caused Prime Minister Diefenbaker's wife, Olive, to forbid him from leaving her! The hundreds of other government officials and military personnel would have lived in even more cramped dormitory-style quarters.
The Diefenbunker was maintained in an operational state by a small detachment of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (later the Canadian Forces Communications and Electronics Branch) until 1994, when the facility was closed due to the end of the Cold War and the reduced threat from ICBMs. Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1994, the local municipality took over control of the site and a group of volunteers created a non-profit organisation to operate the Diefenbunker as a museum beginning in 1998. Thanks to years of dilligent work, many of the spaces within the Diefenbunker have been restored to how they would have looked during the 1960s-1980s. The Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum is now open year-round for public tours.
Looking down the T-shaped blast tunnel designed to channel and dissipate the effect of a nearby nuclear blast. Thick doors at either end would have sealed the bunker's inhabitants off from the radiation-ravaged outside world.
The Diefenbunker's cafeteria servery station. Feeding hundreds of military personnel, civil servants, Cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister, and even the Governor General required a large and well-equipped kitchen and cafeteria.
The Diefenbunker's cafeteria. The large mural of the Canadian wilderness somewhat lessens the sterile, institutional feel of the facility, but most likely would have been cold comfort to diners preoccupied with thoughts of the irradiated, post-apocalyptic landscape outside their subterranean haven.
Another look at the Operations Centre. Note the period furniture and office equipment, which the museum has sought to restore to the feel of the 1970s and 1980s.
The Cabinet meeting room where the required number of ministers and the Governor General would have met to decide on government policy, direct the federal response following a nuclear attack, and provide Royal Assent to new legislation and Orders-in-Council. The operations room was located across the hall from the Cabinet meeting room to provide for rapid and easy conveyance of information to the assembled ministers and Governor General.
One of the many corridors throughout the Diefenbunker, with the doors to government department offices lining the walls. Some departments, like National Defence and External Affairs would have been obviously important to government postwar emergency management; however, one can perhaps question the logic of including offices for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, given it is highly unlikely anyone would be concerned about mortgages on homes evaporated by nuclear blasts or contaminated by fallout.
Looking into the Diefenbunker's vault, where the Bank of Canada would have relocated its gold supply in the event of a nuclear war, thereby ensuring the country's continued financial stability.
The machinery space on the lowest level of the Diefenbunker. This room housed the generators, pumps, and ventilation equipment required to sustain the hundreds of people who would have lived in the bunker during a nuclear emergency.
One of the women's lavatories in the Diefenbunker.