Ontario: The Strange and Interesting. The Search Continues

A tunnel into history

Searching Ontario for the Strange and Interesting for my new book is so exciting. I have seen so many cool places. I am so excited to share them with you. Let’s get started.

The Diefenbunker

My search takes me east to a walk back into time. It also gave me a chance to visit with a couple of friends who were also excited to see this historical time capsule.

Darcy, myself, and Ray at the Diefenbunker

In 1959 the cold war was in the news and worries of a nuclear attack was in the air. The Prime Minister at that time was John Diefenbaker. His plan was to build a nuclear fallout shelter for members of the goverment and the military that would work to rebuild the country afterwards. The Diefenbunker was created.

Looking from the roadway you would not guess there were four stories of operations that went below ground. By the time you hit the fourth level you will be 75 feet (22.86 meters) underground. As you entered a long tunnel that would transport you into a time that was, you would never guess that you truly were stepping back in time. This is so well preserved I actually felt like a little girl again.

The first thing you encountered was the Geiger counter on the wall. Everyone would have to go through two showers before stepping out to put paper slippers on.

Geiger counter and paper slippers

As you traversed down the hallways you discover it is like a small scale city. With a hospital and operating rooms, kitchens and cafeterias, high-tech (for that era) computer rooms and communication areas to keep abreast of what was happening in the outside world.

Operating room

When you walked into the kitchen area I swear I could hear my Mom. The tables and chairs, the appliances, everything reminded you of that 60’s era and brought those of us that were there, right back.

Waiting for Mom to make coffee

The computer rooms were of course large and filled with giant machinery that now fits in our hand. You could almost hear the whirring and humming that I remember a computer making as it computed the information.

Computer of yesteryear

The Prime Minister suite was just as bare as the others. There was no real privacy and the barest of essentials. It was interesting yo note that no family could come with personnel, not even the Prime Ministers wife.

Prime Ministers suite

There is so much more I want to share with you about this amazing place and how I met Mr. Deifenbaker but we have a few places to visit in this blog. Look for a feature blog on it for sure.

Chalk River and The Manhattan Project

The beginning of Nuclear Power in Canada

Driving west on Highway 17 from Ottawa I seen a small blue sign that said something about Nuclear power. I had to check this out. In 1942 during World War II Nuclear power was just starting out. I think everyone of that day heard about the Manhattan Project. Did you know Canada was part of that? I certainly did not. Along with three other cities in the United States, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Hanford, Washington, and Los Alamos, New Mexico, a small town by the name of Chalk River in Northern Ontario would be chosen to help create the atomic bomb. A Nuclear research laboratory would be built and the first Nuclear generation plant would be constructed. Canada’s role did not stop there as their contribution of raw uranium through the rich sources in the north proved invaluable. Thankfully the threat of Nuclear War is over with a treaty. There is still a Nuclear laboratory there as they continue to work this valuable resource to power our lives.

In Deep River you can find an atom statue that celebrates the great strides these communities have taken in the growth of Nuclear power.

The Atom Statue, Deep River

Brent Crater

Brent Crater

This is somewhere I had been before and just had to go back and spend the night. Brent Crater is a meteorite strike that happened over 450 million years ago. Personally I just find this fascinating. Looking at the rim of this crater and realizing that a gigantic chunk of space rock came streaking towards and hit with such a force that it created a hole 2 miles (3.2 km) wide and 1400 feet (426 meters) deep. What an impact! Check out my you tube video I made while standing at the lookout.

The rim of Brent Crator

At the very bottom of a very bumpy road there is a wonderful campsite with beautiful lake. There is also a few ruins of an old logging town that was once there. The houses that were used for the workers are still there. Some are used as cottages and some show their age.

Repurposing the old houses.
A story of what once was

Oh and I found a plaque. You know how I love those. I laughed when I saw it.

It says it all. Lol

It is a very quiet peaceful place that gives you a chance to take a breath while enjoying the best nature has to offer.

This is where you get your mind right

Dionne Quintuplets Museum

The Home of the Dionne Quintuplets

In 1934 a miracle happened. Five little baby girls were born. Quintuplets…first of their kind in Canada to survive infancy. Born to Elzire and Oliva Dionne, together they weighed just over six pounds. The largest baby only 2.5 pounds, the smallest 1 pound 8 and half ounces. They must have been so little. Born in this little house in North Bay with six siblings before them their parents worked as farmers by trade. Their lives would change forever but not in the ways you would expect.

I had heard my parents talk about the Dionne Quintuplets even 30 years after they had been born when I was a little girl. I had the chance to stop in at this beautiful museum and was honoured I got a chance to speak with Mrs. Dionne’s Grandson, born by one of her first six children, Brian Callahan who created this beautiful little piece of history. He told of a story of a miraculous birth and the heartache cause by severe goverment overreach that followed that tore a family apart.

The Dionne Quintuplets

When Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie and Marie were born, they were so tiny they would fit into a breadbasket. They kept them warm by laying the basket on the door of the oven. Oh my stars I just could not get over that. Five little babies fitting in one basket, being warmed by an oven and they all survived. It was a miracle.

The doctor ran out and told the townsfolk and news spread like wildfire of their birth. Canada was in the midst of a depression and needed a feel good story, but at what cost? The babies were not more than six hours old when they did their first public photo shoot. They laid the babies with their exhausted mother as she almost did not make it threw the birth and the exploitation began. At four months old the sisters were taken from their parents. I was told by Brian the parents were only allowed to see there children for 20 minutes at a time and the siblings were not allowed to visit. Less then a year later the Ontario government stepped in and made them wards of the crown. As a mother I could not even imagine being separated from my children.

Staying warm in a breadbasket

The Ontario goverment then did an even more despicable act. They used the children as a tourist attraction. Millions of dollars were made as people from around the world came to see the girls. It is said that up to 3000 people per day would go through the turnstile at the museum.


Not only would people pay to see them but there was all kinds of merchandise made, such as dolls, clothes as well as being used for commercials.

Meanwhile the parents were fighting to get their daughters back. When in 1942 they finally got their children back but the damage had been done. They did not know each other. The other children led the life of farmers while the girls led a life of being in the spotlight. Years later compensation was given to the girls and an apology but really, how do pay for something you can never get back? There are two serving sisters left, Annette and Cécile. It is my hope they all found some peace and some contentment in life. If you ever are in North Bay make sure you make this little house one of your stops and have a chat with Brian. You will be glad you did.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure. Check in next week as my search leads me to a beautiful mine and a tire store.

See you next week.


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