About a year ago I got word there was an old bunker located somewhere in Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park. The details were pretty thin. The best I could find out was that it was an old "Diefenbunker" that was constructed during the Cold War supposedly to house politicians and government officials in case of nuclear war. Boy was I wrong...
Turns out the bunker wasn't a "Diefenbunker" at all, but a vault! Rocky Mountain Vaults & Archives, a private company, had begun building a high-tech, ultra-secure storage facility that would have housed the most important documents of the day. In 1969 they began tunneling into the north-facing slope of Mt. McGillivray, but that's where the project ended. It is believed the project failed because of a lack of financing and possibly because they discovered moisture inside the caverns. All that remains is the main tunnel, two 24m by 7.5m caverns. and what could have been the main reception lounge.
Highline Magazine, a Canmore publication, had a detailed article on the background of the vault in their Winter 2009 issue. The article, A Dark Secret was written by Rob Alexander and can be found on pages 14-16. You can read it in its entirety here:
|Click the photo above to read the full story|
Christine and I headed out one sunny afternoon to try and find the vault for ourselves and see it up close. We parked along the Trans-Canada Highway near the Heart Creek Day Use Area. We would have parked in the lot, but because of the flooding the road to the parking lot was completely covered in several feet of debris. We hiked west along the highway towards Mt. McGillivray before cutting up through an old gravel pit and connecting with the trail that would take us directly to the vault. The hike itself is an easy 4km round trip, with 150m elevation gain.
|A portion of the trail to the vault is actually the Trans-Canada Trail|
|There was a pair of Bald Eagles circling above us, but I couldn't get one photo with both of them in it|
|The entrance to the vault|
|Looking up to towards the summit of Mt. McGillivray|
|The main tunnel leading inside|
|Looking back out towards the entrance|
|Some interesting artwork can be found inside the vault. Make sure you bring a good flashlight!|
|The view of Lac des Arcs from the entrance|
|The whole thing is pretty cool, fairly odd, and a tiny bit creepy!|
Recently I did a story for the Calgary Guardian called Mystery on Mount McGillivray featuring this mysterious vault.