Links & Books


Dew Line Adventures (Adventures from the Coldest Part of the Cold War)

This is the true story of one person’s involvement in a very small part of what was known as the Cold War. That small part was about a group of people who watched over the North American continent from radar sites in the far north.

Civil Defence League of Canada

“The League is a non-governmental civil defence initiative promoting citizen-centric civil defence in a world where major nuclear warfare is again a credible threat. We encourage broad public education in personal safety know-how for nuclear attack scenarios. We advocate for community fallout shelter programs as well as general preparedness for other types of disasters and emergencies. And we maintain it is vital to protect our electrical grid from a nuclear or natural EMP which, according to official estimates, could in effect take down our civilization for a year or more, resulting in the deaths of up to 90 percent of the North American population. Above all else, we work to revive nuclear civil defence preparedness on the part of officials, emergency responders and everyday Canadians – measures that could save millions of lives in the event of a nuclear attack on North America”.

Civil Defence Museum Edmonton

“Preserving, protecting, and presenting the Canadian Civil Defence emergency preparedness history”. Has a good “Canadian and USA Links Section”

United States Civil Defense Museum, Online, Sirens, Art, History, Supplies, etc.

“This virtual museum is dedicated to the Civil Defense and emergency workers of the United States who worked to protect the public from nuclear attack. Thankfully, their services, in that aspect, were never needed. This virtual museum is for historical purposes and does not make fun of civil defense, however, I do throw in a few “light” comments here and there. There are many aspects of the Civil Defense program that may seem funny today, but the period after World War II was a very scary time. Civil defense officials and volunteers during that time were very serious about their work and I believe they deserve respect for their efforts. They rendered emergency services after natural and man-made disasters and would have had an impossible task had there ever been a nuclear war.” BTW has some Canadian stuff on it including about out CLM sirens….click HERE to HEAR!

Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)

This is a US site entitled the Health Physic Historical Instrumentation Section Museum Directory of the ORAU. It has a huge collection of information on this subject and many interesting related topics. Very pictorial and cross-related information. Click on above title to view the main site with its dozens of links to various topics and from there to sub-links to much, much more information. A specific example of the detail provided is US Civil Defense Signage,

“Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest.” 

Life After Doomsday

Richard Brisson’s “CampX” Website on Spys and Cryptology

Richard’s website is “… intended to reflect a portion of my personal collection of items/artifacts which relate to cryptology, vintage clandestine or espionage tradecraft, and communications technology particularly equipment used by the major powers during the Cold War and by the Canadian military during WW-II. This collection has been accumulated over the last 20 years or so. You will also notice an emphasis on vintage children’s decoders and spy toys over the years starting with the decoder badges and instruction manuals associated with Radio Orphan Annie and Captain Midnight starting in the 1930’s with radio reception become popular especially in American homes. Another partnership ensued with the Diefenbunker in Carp (near Ottawa, Ontario) to launch a “Spy Tools” exhibit. The Diefenbunker is also known as Canada’s Cold War Museum. The exhibit was in place from February 2002 until early September 2002. The display was expanded to a 2-room display to accommodate children’s clandestine toys over the years – that included items such as Secret Sam, Batman cards, James Bond, Spiderman and Get Smart. A local television station CJOH aired a short piece related to this Diefenbunker exhibit and this collection on 27 April 2002 during “Regional Contact”.

Simple Shelters by Andrew Burtch

Monitoring Radioactive Fallout Across Canada, 1959-63

Abstract: During the early Cold War, the Canadian government advised the public that they could cheaply build fallout shelters in their homes to protect their families from radiation after a nuclear war. Publicly, the government stayed out of the shelter-building business, citing that the cost was too high. However, from 1959 to the mid-1960s, the Canadian Army secretly constructed a network of 2,000 fallout shelters in government buildings: the Nuclear Detonation and Fallout Reporting System. This article explores the origins of this network and the reasons for its decline.

YouTube Video of a USAF ICBM Launch (GULP!)


Webmaster’s Note: The Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum has an extensive library (primarily created, curated, organised and maintained by Doug Beaton*, former Parks Canada conservator and long-time volunteer at the Museum, mostly using his own time and funds). This research library currently has over 6000 books.

Andrew Burtch – War Museum historian’s tale of the Cold War in Canada October 28, 2014

People called it the Cold War, the era when the world seemed to teeter on the edge of an atomic Armageddon. It was a harrowing time of home fallout shelters and public service announcements telling frightened citizens to “duck and cover” in the event of a nuclear holocaust.

Faced with potential annihilation, ordinary Canadians reacted with general indifference, while there was confusion regarding jurisdiction among the various levels of government.

Give Me Shelter: The Failure of Canada’s Cold War Civil Defence (UBC Press, 2012) by Canadian War Museum historian Andrew Burtch, winner of this year’s C.P. Stacey Award for most distinguished book on Canadian military history, tells the story of Canada’s half-hearted, haphazard attempts to deal with the threat of nuclear war in the two decades following the end of the Second World War.

In Canada, serious planning began in the late 1940s. “All across the Western alliance,” says Burtch, the Museum’s historian for the post-1945 period, “it seemed reasonable that governments should have some kind of program in the advent of nuclear attack.” But the specifics of the program changed as nuclear weapons evolved. The initial model, he says, “was the London Blitz applied to the nuclear age” — individuals were trained as firefighters, air-raid wardens and nurses on the assumption that enough people would survive the initial attack and could then help the wounded and fight the fires. By the early 1950s, however, with the development of more powerful bombs — the “city killers” — the emphasis was on evacuation. And the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles in the late 1950s called for a “stay put approach. You built a shelter to put some protection between your family and atomic fallout.”

The entire civil defence program, says Burtch, was “dogged by apathy. In the dark days of the Korean War or the Cuban missile crisis, tension was high” and so was speculation. But unless confronted by crisis, people showed no concern. “Once the emergency passed, and things looked like they were under control, their interest faded almost immediately.” When an ambitious evacuation exercise in Calgary had to be cancelled because of a heavy snowfall, “the mayor said if the weather had been that bad the Soviets wouldn’t have attacked anyway.” Differing levels of government squabbled over who should pay for civil defence or whether to be involved at all. “British Columbia and Alberta were really up on it in the 1950s. Ontario and Quebec were not, and refused all funding.”  

Responsibility for civil defence was kicked from ministry to ministry. After 1968, the Cold War rhetoric began to cool, the sense of urgency faded altogether and civil defence was forgotten. But, says Burtch, it never entirely disappeared. “Public Safety Canada,” the government ministry in charge of protecting the safety of Canadians today, “is in one way a direct offshoot of it.”

The C.P. Stacey Award is presented by the Canadian Committee for the History of the Second World War and the Canadian Commission for Military History. It recognizes the year’s most distinguished publication on the 20th-century military experience. In winning this prize, Burtch joins a number of current and previous colleagues at the War Museum. “Tim Cook, Dean Oliver, Jack Granatstein . . . I feel like I’m carrying on a bit of a tradition,” he says. 

How the Cold War Began by Amy W. Knight

How the Cold War Began draws on newly declassified intelligence files to examine one of the twentieth century’s most influential spy cases as well as its role in generating the Cold War, discussing the defection of a cipher clerk who revealed a Soviet espionage network in North America less than a month after the atomic bombing of Japan. Amy’s website is worth perusing.

Finding Diefenbunker: Canadian Nationalism and Cold War Memory

….by Sara Maththews, Justin Anstett & Patricia Molloy (Contributor).

The text discusses the legacy of the Cold War in Canada by looking at Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s “Diefenbunkers”—eleven nuclear fallout shelters constructed in secret in the late 1950s to protect the Canadian national and provincial governments from a nuclear strike. While many of these sites have fallen into disrepair or been sold off, one such site has recently been repurposed as “Canada’s Cold War Museum” with the explicit purpose of fostering “interest and critical understanding of the Cold War.”

The text questions how the site, its museumological apparatus, and the community curation of various rooms in the museum, constructs a “Cold War” for use in Canadian memory; questions the validity of considering the Diefenbunker as a memory site, following Pierre Nora’s seminal concept; and explores the role of fictions in the interactive exhibits that aim to engage Canadian youth—in particular—in the issues of nuclear war, emergency measures, and the role of civil defence. The museum and its displays are interrogated for their performance of and possibilities for inscription, re-inscription, and resignification of Canadian cultural memory.

Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton

A Survivalists Guide to Nuclear War and Other Major Disasters

Webmaster Note: Whether you agree with the author or not, this is an illuminating read for the basic information it contains about the effects of nuclear weapons and what can be done to attempt to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

Excerpt: “There is no need to lie to people about the effects of a nuclear war. The truth is bad enough. The damage done by making the threat seem worse than it really is cannot be easily dispelled. The exaggerated tales of total annihilation convince people that survival is impossible. This is not true. For most Americans, survival of at least the first few weeks following a nuclear attack is not only possible, it is almost unavoidable. With careful preparation, any family or small group of people can insure its own survival under such conditions and also through the long period of recovery to follow.”

Paul Ozorak ‘Bunkers, Bunkers Everywhere….’

Paul Ozorak has written many books on the general theme of underground bunkers both in Canada and elsewhere in the world, as well as about lessor known military facilities. He was at one time a contributor to the Diefenbunker’s exhibits. He currently lives in the Ottawa area. Some covers of his books are displayed below. Many of them are available through Amazon.

Underground Structures of the Cold War: The World Below

Recommendations by Doug Beaton*

For really specific cold war Canada books:

            –Cold War Canada: the Making of a National Insecurity State, 1945-1957, by Reg Whitaker and Gary Marcuse, University of Toronto Press, 1994, 0-8020-5935-X

            -Misguided Missiles, Canada, the Cruise and Star Wars by Simon Rosenblum, James Lorimer and Company, 1985, 0-88862-698-3

            –Canada and the Cold War by Reg Whitaker and Steve Hewitt, Lorimer, 2003,  978-1550-28769-1