The DEW, or Distant Early Warning, line cost about $7.5 billion to build in today’s money. When it was decommissioned between 1988 and 1993 and replaced with automated radar stations, Mr. Jeffrey said, pretty much everything was destroyed, although a few of the structures were retained. As a result, the only physical artifact his museum currently owns, aside from photos and documents, is a control panel for a diesel power generator from one station. (Dismantling and cleaning up the stations, which were built without consulting Indigenous people and with little regard for the environment, cost 575 million Canadian dollars.)
The Alberta-based Canadian Civil Defence Museum is a third museum that preserves Cold War history. In 2018, it purchased the remaining radar dome and buildings of Canadian Forces Station Alsask, located in the community of the same name that straddles the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Fred Armbruster, the executive director and founder of the Canadian Civil Defence Museum, told me from his home in Red Deer, Alberta, that his interest in Cold War commemoration grew out of stumbling across a small bunker while hiking in Edmonton several years ago.
Mr. Armbruster is passionate about how the Cold War changed Canada.
“The Cold War created the future,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the Cold War, we wouldn’t have the technology that we have today. We would be backstepped a decade or even more in technology because we wouldn’t have had anything to spur us on.”