CARP – The Diefenbunker Museum received a $400,000 grant from the federal government yesterday (March 4), the largest single investment the museum has received in more than 10 years.
Media, board members, museum staff and community members gathered in the chilly entrance to the blast tunnel to hear the announcement that put a smile on everyone involved’s chilly face.
Museum executive director Christine McGuire brought her daughter’s old Diefenbunker Museum spy book filled with details written from Hailey’s experiences as a visitor to the museum.
“It’s just such a great reminder of Hailey’s and others’ love and affinity for this museum,” McGuire told the gathered group. “It’s a one-of-a-kind museum in Canada and very likely the world.”
The $400,000 comes from the Canadian Experiences Fund and will be used to upgrade the visitor experience including permanent infrastructure upgrades; an eight-language audio tour guide system; a dedicated space for youth; and making the facility more accessible.
The Diefenbunker is a unique museum where the building is the exhibit. The museum is a bunker built by the Canadian Forces starting in 1959 to provide a safehaven for the prime minister, top politicians and military members in the result of a nuclear war.
“This is a 60-year-old facility that was never intended to be a museum,” McGuire said.
Kanata-Carleton MP Karen McCrimmon was on hand to make the announcement on behalf of the federal government. Fitting as McCrimmon is also a highly decorated, retired member of the Canadian Forces.
“Tourism is a strong economic driver for Carp,” she said. “In particular, visitors come from far and wide to experience Canada’s history at the Diefenbunker Museum. It took imagination and dedication to build this. It brings all kinds of Canadians together and shares what we’ve learned from the past to help make a better future.”
Diefenbunker Museum board president Bernard Proulx said the tourist destination is very important to the people of Carp.
“It’s more than just a museum, it’s a national historic site,” he said. “The bunker is an artifact. It needs to be preserved for future generations. And it’s right here in the City of Ottawa.”
The museum has been steadily growing in popularity over the years. From just a few thousand visitors a year in the early days, over the last five years the Diefenbunker has attracted an average of 80,000 visitors every year.