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Naval Ammunition Depot Bunkers

1455 McGill Road, Kamloops, British Columbia, V2C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2007/10/30

Exterior view of Naval Ammunition Depot Bunker; City of Kamloops, 2007
Exterior view
Exterior view of Naval Ammunition Depot bunker; City of Kamloops, 2007
Exterior view
Exterior view of Naval Ammunition Depot bunker; City of Kamloops, 2007
Exterior view

Other Name(s)

Naval Ammunition Depot Bunkers
The Bunkers
Royal Canadian Navy Ammunition Depot Bunkers
Naval Ammunition Depot

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1944/01/01 to 1945/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/06/23

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Naval Ammunition Depot Bunkers consist of 22 partially-buried concrete bunkers grouped along a winding linear access road approximately two miles west of downtown Kamloops. Located on a flat bench at the edge of a steep escarpment, the site is adjacent to an industrial area on McGill Road. Each structure is comprised of a windowless one-storey concrete storage space, entered through steel entrance doors and enclosed, to the full height of the storage space within, by earthen blast protection walls.

Heritage Value

The remaining bunkers of the former Naval Ammunition Depot, constructed between 1944 and 1945, are historically significant as a rare surviving Canadian example of ordnance buildings from the Second World War era and as symbols of Canada’s wartime and military experience. The bunkers reflect a period of national and international investment in defence spending after the entry of the United States into the war in December 1941. In particular, they reflect Canadian and American strategic concerns that the long, mostly unpopulated Pacific coastline of Canada could provide a back door to the invasion of the North American continent, and that coastal installations were vulnerable to air attack. Planning for the depot began in 1943. It was intended to store bulk explosives for the western command of the Royal Canadian Navy and stocks required for the British Fleet, to meet operational and practice requirements for the Pacific Fleet by maintaining stocks of ammunition for immediate issue, and to repair, manufacture, modify and inspect ammunition stores and components. The depot was constructed by the Vancouver-based Dominion Construction Company Limited, but by the time it opened, the threat of invasion was non-existent. The depot was used as back-up storage for ammunition expended in fleet exercises. The depot was declared surplus and closed in December 1963, reflecting the onset of the Cold War and the perception that the conduct of war had moved beyond land-based confrontation.

The surviving bunkers, known as magazines, are representative of the infrastructure of the eight advanced ordnance depots constructed across the country by the Royal Canadian Navy at strategic locations far enough away from the coast that they could not easily be attacked by carrier-borne aircraft. Kamloops was selected as one of the sites because of its easy rail access to the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert and the west coast ports of the United States. At the base of the escarpment was the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway; a rail spur was constructed to facilitate the unloading of the ammunition, which was then transported up the hill by means of a mile-long aerial tramway. The depot originally included twenty-two bunkers, administration buildings, mess halls, and officers’ living quarters. Different magazines stored different materials such as filled shells, cartridges and small arms ammunition. The bunkers were placed at a safe distance from one another along a linear access road. Three primary types of bunkers have survived: an exposed above-ground bunker of board-formed concrete buried in a mound with extending angled entry walls; an underground bunker with a red-brick chimney vent; and an exposed above-ground bunker of concrete block with a projecting canopy, with surrounding blast mounds formed behind trapezoidal board-formed concrete walls. In the event of an explosion, the surrounding embankments would direct the blast upwards through a lightweight wooden roof that was designed to fragment.

Source: City of Kamloops Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key characteristics that define the heritage character of the Naval Ammunition Depot Bunkers include their:
- location on a hillside at the edge of an embankment, hidden amongst the topography but proximate to rail and road networks
- arrangement along a linear access road, set back from the main access road
- orientation, form, scale, spacing and massing of the various types of bunkers expressing their functional requirements
- construction materials including board-formed concrete, vertical concrete revetments, concrete blocks, red-brick internal vents, steel doors and wooden roofs
- earthen blast protection embankments shaped at the angle of repose
- deeply recessed entrances
- internal arrangements of magazines including any remains of shelving and painted signage



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type



Armoury or Drill Hall

Architect / Designer



Dominion Construction Company Limited

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Kamloops Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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