Students Catalog Information on KW’s Cold War Bunker

by | Dec 11, 2021 | Communities

An underground conference room
The main conference room in the ‘Diefenbunker,’ the federal government’s nuclear shelter. Bunkers like this and the one in Freeport were designed to preserve a government’s ability to operate during a nuclear attack. [Z22OriginalCC BY-SA 3.0]

In the mid 1960s, during the Cold War, a nuclear bunker was built in Waterloo Region to provide shelter for regional and municipal officials in the event of nuclear attack. Emergency services and communications throughout the local area were to be coordinated and maintained from this concrete structure, located in the Freeport neighbourhood of Kitchener.

For the past year, Waterloo Regional Government has been considering the fate of this Cold War historic site. Options have ranged from demolition to restoration. Funds have now been dedicated to stabilizing the structure while its ultimate fate is determined. Working with the Region of Waterloo Museums and Archives, LCSC will assist with the documentation, analysis, and preservation of the bunker’s history.

A very rare Canadian example of a municipal government preparing for Cold War conflict, the Waterloo Region bunker provides insights into the engineering, political, and socio-cultural dimensions of the Cold War and emergency preparedness, at a local community level.

With supervision from Centre Fellows Kevin Spooner and Sara Matthews, Victoria Wang, an undergraduate Copp Scholar at LCSC, has developed an annotated bibliography of scholarly literature related to local civil defence in Canada and detailed finding aids for Regional archival sources related to the bunker.

Stay tuned for updates to this exciting local history project!