Heart Creek Bunker History
Back in the late 1960s, during the Cold War, three ambitious brothers headed the construction of a what is now known as the Heart Creek Bunker. Under the corporate banner of Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives Ltd, construction of the bunker began in Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, in 1969, and was abandoned not long after.
Original plans for the bunker included making it completely self-sufficient and able to withstand a nuclear attack.
The planned electrical utilities, heating, air conditioning and telecommunication systems were never installed.
Prior to abandonment of the project, Rocky Mountain Vaults and Archives Ltd was in negotiation with the Bank of Canada to house bank records. The deal never materialized and Rocky Mountain Vaults didn’t have a way to continue to finance the project. Due to this lack of funding, and issues with humidity, Rocky Mountain Vaults declared bankruptcy and the project was abandoned.
Finding Heart Creek Bunker
Starting at the Heart Creek Trail parking lot, visitors who wish to find the bunker will travel west along the Trans Canada Trail, parallel with the Trans-Canada highway. It is a two kilometer hike from here to the bunker.
While walking down the trail you will encounter a Trans-Canada Trail marker. Take a left here and it will take you around a washed-out area.
Further down the trail you will encounter another Trans Canada Trail marker, once again take a left. Here you will start ascending upwards, along the side of Mount McGillivray, towards the trail entrance. It is about 200 meters from this point until you reach the entrance to the bunker.
The bunkers entrance tunnel stretches 50 meters into the side of Mount McGillivray, with a side tunnel that stretches off or another 40 meters.
The bunker interior is not as dry as one would think. In some places water has forced its way through cracks in the limestone rocks, and the dripping water creates eerie echoes inside the bunker.
Temperature inside and outside the bunker can be significantly different. In late August the 22°C temperature dropped so drastically inside the bunker that your breath could be seen while navigating the bunker rooms and hallways.
When it comes to the cold war the Heart Creek Bunker isn’t a historic monument of national significance, but it is a unique piece of Canadian history that’s worth visiting if you prefer those places that lie off the beaten path.