Most people have never heard about it, but right outside of a major Canadian city, lies on of the strangest and best kept secret buried deep underground.
Placed there by a single man with one unique vision, has inspired countless number of people and has angered many others including Government officials. This man goes by the name Bruce Beach.
Canada’s Best Kept Secret
Since the early 80s, Bruce has been secretly buying school buses and burying them deep underground in an undisclosed location in Canada. His strange project has drawn criticism and praise as well as intervention of law enforcement, and while it is not known those have heard of it can’t help but have a strong opinion about it one way or another.
So what is Bruce Beach’s secret and why is it so polarizing?
A Safe Refuge
Bruce Beach was born in Kansas 1934 and due to having lived through the horrors Vietnam and the tensions of Cold war Bruce and his wife decided to move to Canada thinking it was safer, but moving to the great north was enough.
In the late 70s’, Beach was bothered by the rising threat of nuclear war between Russia and United States, and rather than sit around waiting for the bombs to fall, he decided to do something about it.
He ended up started working on his project which he called the ‘Ark Two’ which captured the imaginations of countless like-minded individuals when he reveal it to the world.
In the early 70s, Beach move to his wife’s hometown of Horning Mills, a Canadian village which is approximately 90 minute drive from Toronto, very scenic and most importantly – safer.
Standing in the middle of the Great Lakes, it just wasn’t a beautiful location- it was also perfect for Bruce’s plans, and by 1980 he already sketched a huge blueprint which would prove to be one of the most outlandish projects the Canadian province of Ontario would ever see.
Building the Ark
Starting in 1980, Bruce Beach began acquiring old school buses, buying them for approximately $300 a piece, Bruce was interested in their solid, sage structures. Slowly accumulating a collection of 42 buses and storing them in a tightly pack formation in an old lot near his home, by 1985 Bruce was ready for his next of his plan.
Specifically School Buses
Bruce Beach has some very specific plans for his Horning Mills project- and he chose to use school buses because they boosted several features which makes them perfect for his plans.
First, school buses have roomy open floored plans but more importantly, school buses are required by law to have roofs reinforced with steel beams. This makes them safe for child passengers in case they ended up in an accident, but also allows them to carry much larger weights on their roofs. Weight that could result from dirt being piled on top of them when they are buried underground.
If You Build It, They Will Come
After he finished setting up the school buses in a tight packed formation in a large grass of his 12.5 acres property, he began slow, difficult process of cutting their chassiss and turning them into a massive, interconnected structure of winding corridors, rooms, storage spaces and bulkheads.
However, Bruce did not do this alone, as he began construction a small army of like-minded individuals showed up and volunteered and over the next few years would help to construct this complex project.
The Buses, Submerged
After several years of slow paced, but deliberate and thoughtful work, Bruce’s bus building project was complete and he was ready to take the next step. Making sure the bus chassiss were airtight, he began pouring concrete over the structure encasing it forever in thick resilent structure and then cover the structure with 14 feet of dirt when it was dried. The entire concrete complex was totally invisible to outside observers and safe under a thick layer of earth.
10,000 Square Feet of Survivalist Utopia
Finally the intial construction of Bruce’s vision was complete. This was capable of withstanding a nuclear blast and housing over 500 people within it underground walls.
Naming it “Ark Two” a megacomplex made of school buses and concrete is one of the largest underground structures in North America- a huge accomplishment on many scale.
You may think that a complex as large as Ark Two, made out of salvage materials and old school buses encased under tons of concrete and dirt built by a single untrained man is considered to be unsafe.
Serious about his passion project, Bruce consulted with the same engineer who designed and constructed Toronto’s subway system and after going over Bruce’s plan and making a few key changes, approved that the structure was indeed very safe.
Building a Community
Describing the construction of Ark Two as feat carried out by Bruce Beach alone would be false. He wouldn’t have been able to pull it of without volunteers and friends. As the project progressed, at least the 50 people from Horning Mills, as well as members of the survivalist community came together to take part in planning and labored to bring the project to life.
Question that people ask, is what motivates people to get involved in such project?
Earning Their Spot
One motivation gets people to pitch in and work with Bruce on the Ark Two is the simple fact that Bruce has guaranteed a spot on this massive shelter for anyone who is willing to help construct and maintain the Ark Two.
Entering the Shelter
Getting in the Ark hasnt simple as opening a door and walking inside. First, you must be granted access ahead of time and even granted access entering the bunker is an ordeal. You must enter through a rusty old door which house behind it a rusty old generator, and the entrance to an undergound labyrinth.
Visitors or future fault dwellers will descended down 14 feet of earth before they actually reach the underground living area.
Keeping it Clean
Making the Ark Two safe for people fleeing the a disaster doesn’t just mean making the safe for nuclear blast. Once the shelter is occupied at full capacity, one of the dangers that its occupants will face is not from above but from from the inside. Some healthy looking individuals could be incubating a very dangerous diseases, and letting them into the shelter could seal the fate of hundreds of other survivors.
Screening and Decontamination
To avoid contamination, Bruce had setup a special decontamination chamber at the entrance to the complex.
Equipped with stainless steel, double sink, a shower and bath tub for children and disabled persons, a food decontamination area, the screening chamber is meant to minimize any danger of contamination and illness by any of individuals seeking shelter in the Ark Two.
In order to survive, the inhabitants of the Ark will need more than just shelter from the fall out and radiation. They will need to have access to fresh water, plumbing and electricity to maintain any semblance of normal life underground. Luckily, Bruce thoughtof everything, Ark Two boast an elaborate plumbing system which runs throughout the complex into a septic tank. The shelter is also equipped with several diesel generators. Very impressive, right?
The Preppers are Impressed
Bruce Beach is part of an international community of people who call themselves “Preppers”. Preppers believed that a catastrophic disaster of one kind or another is inevitably and likely and relying on Government infrastructure in times of need may not be possible. Instead, they like to prep for these events themselves making sure that they are equipped to deal with these situations as individuals and small communities to the best of their ability. To the preppers Bruce project is mind blowing and unique to them as anyone else. It’s like you are on Mars, its crazy in there.
Feeding the Ark
One of the most basic things the Ark needs to answer is that of food. Even if everyone inside is healthy, safe and clean, without food to sustain the shelter’s survivors they wouldn’t be able to last long before they can brave the hostile outdoors once more. the Ark boasts two industrial kitchens-one primarily for cooking, while the other mostly for washing dishes. Bruce has placed two large rooms full of food and pantry items, but there biggest challenge is food supplies.
Keeping it Fresh
A well stocked pantry is essential for any survival situation, but keeping an underground shelter stocked with food proves quite difficult, especially to sustain over 500 people.
In three decades the shelter have been on standby, even food with long shelf life such as canned foods and other preserved ingredients have been replaced several times over.
Planning a shelter with over 500 people who are seeking refuge for a prolong peroid means more than just being able to feed them and provide them with a safe place to sleep. In addition to living quarters, Bruce has built classrooms, radio communication center, day rooms, an infirmary and even mortuary and a dentists office!, imagine that. Still Ark Two isn’t exactly a five star hotel as you will soon see.
Breaking Up Families
Ark Two was designed and built as a shelter meant to allow people to survive the harshest of catastrophic conditions imaginable. that means space inside the shelter is divided, for this reason, sleeping quarters at the shelter will be split into men’s and women’s- which means families wont be able to share a living space, but the way he explains it, it is for good.
Thinking of the Children
Even though parents will have to sleep in different quarters, Bruce has given a lot of thoughts to the kids who would have to spend alot of time underground, he built a play area meant has a playground, the chamber is also stocked with chess set which he considers important learning tools. While Bruce has built the shelter with a long peroid of isolation in mind, he is not planning on neglecting any other survivors after disaster strikes. Ark Two is equipped with an advanced radio broadcast system which send and receive messages on both AM and FM frequencies, strong enough to reach both Canada and United States.
Preppers believe that some sort of catastrophic event in the future may not likely happen but is imminent, they spend much of their time and money on preparation, training and equipment for whatever event might occur. Bruce may seem like a prepper and was even featured on an episode of National Geographic documentary series called Doomsday Preppers, but he is not comfortable being categorized in that group. Bruce believes that most preppers are fairly selfish and primarily concerned with their own safety rather than that of others, so he categorize his own efforts from theirs by saying Ark Two is driven by kindness and desire to help others, rather than to maintain his own safety.
Staying in Touch
While Bruce sees Ark Two has a public service and is open to everyone, local authorities are far from happy with its construction and have repeatedly try to shut it down saying it is a public hazard. Over the years, Bruce has had to appear in court over more than 30 times. Even the fire department was not happy with it and called it a fire hazard, they even closed the complex down several times.
Bruce has served in the United States Airforce has a Radio Control Tower Operator, and later in his life taught Computer Science at a college. He believes the Nuclear War will start after Pakistan Bombs India.
Bruce sees is project as truly kind and humanitarian undertaking and operates a network called SAFE to prove it. SAFE means ‘Safe America For Everyone’ and that everyone is welcome to Ark Two regardless, of race, religion, culture and politics as long as they do so before the castastrophe occurs. He has stated that “I am optimistic about the long term future of mankind but a pessimist about the immediate future. This means that he believes catastrophe is imminent but will prove that it is an opportunity to rebuild a better, healthier and more tolerant society when the dust settles. His advice to others is to ask themselves what are their plans if castastrophe ever does strike.