In the quiet Canadian village of Horning’s Mills, 100 km north of Toronto, lies the 12.5-acre homestead of Bruce and Jean Beach. On the surface, the land appears to be a typical rural property, but buried deep under those green fields is the largest private nuclear fallout shelter in North America- The Ark Two.
Bruce Beach’s famous nuclear shelter measures a staggering 10,000 square feet, and is primarily made up of 42 old school busses encased in concrete and buried under 14 feet into the ground. The Ark Two was designed to accommodate 500 people for several months and is equipped with everything you could possibly need to survive, from giant supplies of food, a private well, full plumbing, redundant fuel generators, to a dentist’s chair and even a daycare.
Photo: YouTube screengrab
Bruce Beach, 83, began the project in 1980 during the height of the Cold War, and construction was completed by 1982. Originally from Winfield, Kansas, Beach was living in Chicago and working as an electrical engineer in the 1960s when the cold war had begun to escalate, and fear of nuclear weapons was reaching a fever pitch. He decided to move to rural Canada in 1970, considering it safer than any urban area in the case of nuclear war. He settled in Horning’s Mills, and it was there that he met his future wife, Jean, 90. Her family owned the parcel of land where he would go on to build his Ark.
Despite being prepared for it for over 30 years now, nuclear war thankfully hasn’t happened yet. A consequence of that is that technology has long since moved on from the time Beach completed his gigantic bunker. For example, the bunker’s security monitors are from Commodore 64 computers, and the phones are rotary and connected to working landlines. Not to mention that he has had to throw out tons of food over the years.
Photo: Bruce Beach
“I used to always say the end of the world was going to be two years from now,” Beach told the National Post. “But now I say it is going to be two weeks from now — and if I am wrong, I will revise my date. People think, ‘What a nut,’ and I know that, but I don’t mind,I understand the world looks upon me that way.”
On his website, Beach claims that the government has taken him to court over 30 times since construction began on the Ark Two, over thirty years ago. The project was carried out without a permit, which Beach claims was denied to him because “there is a psychology against shelters.” So he went ahead with construction despite the lack of a permit as he felt that “it was a matter of life and death.”
Photo: Bruce Beach
Fire officials in nearby Shelbourne consider the site a hazard and want it shut down, citing public safety. They want to weld the doors shut, to which Beach responds, “I’ll take (sic) whatever it takes to knock the weld back off.”
But Beach does have plenty of allies and supporters as well. He holds work weekends at the site where other survivalists can come and volunteer, guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Ark. In 2015 The Canadian Survival & Meeting expo held a gathering on the property, and one of the chief draws of the event was a tour of the bunker.
“When you go inside the bunker for the first time, it is a different planet, it’s like you’re on Mars,” event organizer Che Bodhi told to Global News Canada. “When you hear about this concept of 42 school busses underground, to fathom it is nothing compared to going in and actually seeing it…It’s crazy in there.”
Tours of the Ark Two and volunteer opportunities can be arranged via Beach’s website.