FedDev funds to fuel a refresh at Diefenbunker museum in Carp

Visitors viewing an exhibit at the Diefenbunker museum

With the return of in-person tourist activities and events in the region, the announcement of a $600,000 federal investment for the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum in Carp comes at the perfect time as the local museum rebuilds its visitor base post-pandemic.

The funding is made up of investments from both the Tourism Relief Fund and the Canada Community Development Fund. Museum staff will use the funds to improve both visitor access and the visitor experience. 

Jenna Sudds, MP for Kanata-Carleton, on behalf of Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, visited the Diefenbunker museum Wednesday to make the announcement. 

“The Diefenbunker is a world-renowned museum that attracts thousands of visitors each year,” said Sudds in a news release. “Through today’s investments, the Government of Canada is supporting necessary infrastructure upgrades to enhance accessibility as well as upgrades to service offerings, both of which will improve the visitor experience at this public space and continue to drive tourism in the Ottawa area.”

Built between 1959 and 1961 under the direction of then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, the site of the “Diefenbunker”, as it came to be known, was designed to provide a safe haven for top government officials in the event of a nuclear attack. Fully operational as Canadian Forces Base Carp until 1994, it was designated a national historic site and restored as the museum, which opened to the public in 1997.

Christine McGuire, executive director of the museum, highlighted the valuable role that unique sites like the Diefenbaker play in bringing history to life.

“We offer visitors an important platform to learn from our past and envision a more peaceful future,” McGuire said. “These funds support upgrades to our facility and exhibitions that will allow us to expand Indigenous perspectives, create more immersive and accessible experiences, and engage and inspire our communities as we bring relevant Cold War history to life.”

The $412,000 received from the Tourism Relief Fund will be used to highlight and recognize the Indigenous experience during the Cold War and support the addition of Algonquin to the museum tour’s audio guide. Additional projects include enhancement of exhibitions and the addition of an augmented reality emergency preparedness gamified simulation.

Leveraging a $187,000 investment package from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, the museum will create a more accessible environment for people with disabilities, specifically those with low vision or visual impairments. The updates to the facility’s lighting and controls will result in improvements to the site’s overall energy efficiency.