Sudbury

Short doc explores North Bay's cold war past

There’s an air of mystery surrounding a defunct Cold-War era bunker in North Bay.

The Hole in Reservoir Hill explores the mystery of a cold war-era bunker in North Bay

The Hole in Resevoir Hill, a short documentary, explores the mysterious military cold-war era bunker in North Bay. (The Hole in Resevoir Hill)

There's an air of mystery surrounding a defunct Cold-War era bunker in North Bay.

The mystery captured the attention of Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson, two filmmakers who first heard of the bunker during family visits to the northern Ontario town.

Williamson said his uncle's stories first spurred his imagination.

"We used to go by Laurentian Hill in North Bay with my uncle Terry," Williamson said. " We used to stop at the place where the south portal of the NORAD Base is."

"He used to talk about what it was like when it was being built. Because it was always closed, we would talk about what was going on there, and what was happening today. It's always been a mystery," he said.

Williamson and Nakhai filmed a short documentary about the bunker's mystique, and premiered it at Sudbury's Cinefest.

Before the premiere, producer Nakhai told CBC's Up North that rumours of what lurked behind the bunker's gates captured her attention.

"We just started looking around, digging in," Nakhai said. "The most obvious place was the museum."

"They knew a lot of retired people, people who worked at the base."

Poking around, asking locals questions, allowed the filmmakers to come across seemingly random characters who drive the documentary's storyline.

"We randomly found a guy who has an Airbnb called the Riverside Bomb Shelter," she said. "We thought, 'how funny is this? This guy has his own bomb shelter.'"

There is still some mystery surrounding the decommissioned bunker. CBC Archives has even toyed with the idea of storing its tape and film in the bunker. It's an idea that Nakhai thinks may never see the light of day.

"There would be a huge cost to gut everything, renovate it, and make it an environment where film and radio would be safe," she said.

Listen to the full interview by clicking the audio link below.

There's a big piece of history in the ground below North Bay that not many people outside of the city know about. 60 storeys underground, well beneath the hard Canadian Shield rock, there's a Cold War-era bunker. It's out of commission, and it's been the subject of local folklore for decades. It's also the subject of a new short documentary called The Hole in Reservoir Hill. The film premieres at Cinefest Sudbury. We speak with producer Shasha Nakhai and director Rich Williamson. 7:08