North Bay, Ontario – Buried within two-billion-year-old granite of the the Canadian shield is the Canadian (and THE most critical) portion of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). Along with Cheyenne Mountain in the United states, they provided aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for both countries. During the cold war, to attack the USA Russia would have had to cross Canada, so this was the most critical part of North America’s defense. North Bay’s Under-Ground Complex (UGC), known as ‘the hole’ was the only NORAD facility built underground – able to withstand a nuclear strike. This facility operated for 43 years until moving to an above-ground building in 2006.
No longer open to the public, one young man that visited ‘The Hole’ in 2005 described to me driving down the tunnel for more than 2 km, then arriving at a mammoth door that was so well balanced, even thought it weighed tones, it could be swung open by a child. He found the stadium-sized cavern that when sealed could generate its own power, air for a month, and had storage for more than 5 million gallons of water, had an “other-worldly” feel to it.
Members of the public cannot go down into it but you will get a feel for the historic strategic military importance of this area when you see the mounted CF 100 fighter jet as you enter town, across the road from the mounted Beaumark missile (there were once 28 in Quebec and 28 in North Bay.) At the entrance to North Bay’s airport you can see radar shields and another mounted military aircraft.
In 2012 the bunker became the Worldʼs Deepest Movie Set with ‘The Colony’, staring Laurence Fishburne, filming there.
North Bay, which is on the Trans Canada Hwy, sits on the eastern shore of big Lake Nipissing, one of Northern Ontario’s largest lakes. You can explore the lake on the 320-passenger ‘Chief Comanda II’, which offers regular day-time and evening summer cruises. You can visit the Dionee Quintuplets Museum (more than 3 million people came to visit the quints themselves during the Great Depression), and at Discovery North Bay in North Bay’s historic CPR Station you can learn about local heritage. . Want to see the fall colours? Ontario Northland often offers a ‘fall colour’ train trip from North Bay called the Dream Catcher Express, which travels the 100 km to Temagami and returns the same day.
In 2012 the bunker became the Worldʼs Deepest Movie Set with ‘The Colony’, staring Laurence Fishburne filming there. More info in this Toronto.com story.
Manston Crescent, Hornell Heights, North Bay, Ontaro