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Cold War Bunker Down 60-storeys, Place to Preserve Canada’s Broadcast History


The former NORAD complex — completed in 1963 — was engineered to withstand a four-megaton nuclear explosion, 267 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb

In this undated photo, a member of the Canadian Forces opens with ease one of the three perfectly balanced 17.25-tonne blast doors protecting the now-unused underground complex that housed NORAD headquarters in North Bay, Ont.Handout/Royal Canadian Air Force/The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — It could give a whole new meaning to buried treasure.

A national foundation wants to store millions of videos, films and other recordings 60 storeys underground in an old NORAD bunker near North Bay, Ont. in an effort to preserve the vast electronic record of Canadian history.

The Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation is talking to federal officials about turning the mothballed complex into a secure repository for the country’s endangered audio-visual archive. It would also include photographs, scripts, set designs and other items of interest.

The foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to preservation of broadcast heritage, is working with the CBC to document its analog collection dating from the 1930s — a move that will help smooth its eventual transfer to the foundation’s custody.

The space needed to safeguard the CBC/Radio-Canada collections alone will be about one million cubic feet, said Kealy Wilkinson, the foundation’s executive director.

The foundation is also aware of other significant collections held on a makeshift basis in institutions around the country. Inclusion of these materials would require another 800,000 to one million cubic feet.

The idea is to preserve original items even after they are copied into digital formats.

“It’s absolutely critical to preserve the originals,” Wilkinson said.



  1. What’s the point of “preserving” Canadian television history if its not going to be shown anywhere? One would THINK that a government funded network with a mandate to showcase Canadian culture and talent would jump at the chance to start a Nostalgia Network to show digitally restored copies of these old shows … and perhaps make money at the same time? But, of course, I live in a fantasy land …

  2. I tried to convince the Minister responsible years ago that, as they were looking for storage space for nuclear waste, that this site offered the best possible solution. Most nuclear waste is in Ontario, so it only makes sense to store it there. Never received a reply and have not tried again because everyday Canadians could not possibly have viable solutions.


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