Alberta (historical) snapshot: Mount McGillivray bunker.

Now, this was a fascinating find!  A short (about 2 km, one way) hike west from the Heart Creek parking lot near Canmore, Alberta leads you to this gigantic cave carved out of the base of Mount McGillivray.  My hubby and I headed out there a few weeks ago to check it out.

There is plenty of speculation about the purpose of this huge excavation, but it seems that a private enterprise called The Rocky Mountain Vault and Archive Company started digging it out in the late 1960’s, presumably so that they could rent space to individuals and corporations to store documents (in the event that the Cold War took a nasty turn, perhaps?). You can read more about their ambitious plans for the site here (it was slated to become operational in 1970) – but there doesn’t seem to be any information about why they never finished the project. At any rate, it’s an amazing place to visit (and fortunately, there weren’t any creepy Hallowe’en masks hanging from the ceiling when we went – my heart wouldn’t have been able to handle the fright).


Looking towards the entranceway from inside the vault.  


  1. As we might say in Maine, that is some story. I wouldn’t want to be there at Halloween, either. Too scary for me! 😉

    • Yes. Head west over the flood-damaged creek bed and follow the Trans-Canada Trail markers (if I recall correctly, there are two) until you get to an obvious junction. There will be another TCT marker on the right – don’t go that way. Head left instead – you’ll arrive at a series of switchbacks up a hill. Partway up, you’ll see the bunker is carved into the mountain. Bring headlamps or flashlights and watch your heads – there are wires and rebar sticking out of the ceiling.

    • It’s actually much deeper than I originally thought, with anterooms shooting off to the one side. And it’s dug out to about 6 feet in height, so I was able to stand upright without conking my head on the rebar on the ceiling.

  2. How incredible that in these modern days there is no answer as to why it was never completed. What a mystery!

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