In the 1960s, while John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister, a Nuclear Detonation and Fallout Reporting System was built across Canada, including over 2,000 small fallout shelters. Officially known as Fallout Reporting Posts, the total cost was $3 million in the 1960s, equivalent to $30 million with inflation.
The official plan was to build 200 fallout shelters in Manitoba, but by 1962 it is estimated that only 100 of the Fallout Reporting Posts were built. Most of them were located near federal or provincial agencies. Train stations, RCMP detachments and ranger stations were common locations. This allowed critical government employees to have a place where they could hide from radiation in the case of a nuclear attack.
The location of these sites in Manitoba is a bit bizarre. They can be found in high-population areas and littered throughout provincial forests in some of the most unexpected places, like Beaver Creek.
Beaver Creek is a small waterway that connects to Lake Winnipeg. It’s a two-hour drive from the City of Winnipeg, along Provincial Road 234, passing by Gimli and Hecla Island.
There’s nothing out here to suggest that a Cold War fallout shelter could be found here. The nearest sign of civilization is on the opposite side of the creek, and it’s a bible camp.
I had first heard rumours about this fallout reporting post from people that had attended this camp. During the early 2000s campers would canoe up Beaver Creek, then hike into the woods to visit the fallout post. They’ve left their mark on the fallout post, which is now littered with graffiti, including a warning near the entrance that says “Don’t fall b****”.
Getting to the fallout post from the highway is easy. There is a small quad trail that follows along the creek and leads to a small clearing. Just off of the clearing, a few feet into the woods, the reporting post can be found.
The fallout reporting post was identical to the one I visited two years ago at Moose Lake. It had the same metal lid, was buried the same number of feet underground, and the interior layout was also identical.
The first thing I noticed after I climbed into the shelter was that the temperature inside was drastically different than the temperature outside. Outside, the sun was shining and I was comfortable in a T-shirt. Inside was a different story. It was dark and cold. The temperature was close to zero degrees Celsius. Even though it was late spring, there must still have been a lot of frost in the ground. The frost radiated through the steel walls of the bunker, making it feel like I had descended into a different time and place.
I suppose I had. The bare metal racks, and the rotten mattresses, were remains of a different time. Back then fear of nuclear explosions, and Russian communists, ruled corporate news media. They were the adult version of children’s nightmares.
After taking one more look around, I decided to climb back up the ladder to the surface, and into the sunshine, leaving all thoughts of Russian commies behind, until I got home and turned on the news. I guess things haven’t really changed.