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Calgary evacuates: Operation Lifesaver practices for a nuclear disaster

With superpowers in the east and west testing powerful new weapons, the Canadian race for self-preservation took off in the early 1950s. The rising of the Iron Curtain intensified the threat of mass destruction, as communication between the Americans and Soviets came to a screeching halt. In this volatile new world, Canadians fretted about fallout shelters and the government prepared to go underground.

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The clock is ticking down to a planned disaster. On a sleepy Wednesday morning, Calgary's mayor initiates the alarm to empty one-quarter of the city's suburbs. Schoolchildren run home and families are given two hours to relocate to surrounding towns. Escape routes are tested and by early afternoon the northeastern section of the city is eerily deserted. This CBC Television report chronicles the mass evacuation effort.
• The notion of civil defence as a means of patriotism was issued from the top. "Civil defence can serve a deterrent purpose by demonstrating to a potential aggressor that Canada is determined to survive even a nuclear war and carry on as an organized society and united nation in the face of the utmost perils and hardships," said Prime Minister Diefenbaker in a 1959 address to the House of Commons.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Newsmagazine
Broadcast Date: Oct. 9, 1955
Duration: 10:15

Last updated: October 2, 2014

Page consulted on October 2, 2014

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