An elderly man guards a North American mystery. Decades ago, he fled across the border from his home, and began to amass a collection of old school buses. Acting mostly alone, and fed by impulse and fear, he said he needed them on account of their reinforced steel roofs — and he began to dig. In a massive pit in the ground, he began to form a mysterious labyrinth that few have ever been able to see. But this is no mere hoarder. So why did he take on this colossal project, and what is he hiding inside? Read on to find out what exactly Bruce Beach is up to.
1. Canadian Oddity
Somewhere beneath the snows of a rural part of Ontario, Canada, an 83-year-old man has created one of the most elaborate and bizarre structures in North America. He’s acting purely on a vision, and out of a sense of purpose — and fear.
Authorities are trying to stop him. You can’t see its extent from above ground and chances are, it might be harder than you think to get in. That man is named Bruce Beach, and his convictions have pushed him into creating something miraculous. So, what exactly is it that he’s up to?
2. Red Dawn
Bruce Beach originally hails from the city of Winfield, Kansas. He spent his young adult years in one of the most tense eras of American history. Behind the scenes of the Vietnam War lay the terrible specter of the Cold War, and its menacing atmosphere was all too much for Bruce.
Bruce Beach eventually decided that desperate times called for taking drastic measures. He packed up his belongings, took his wife and family, and crossed the border to Canada. There, he would embark on a mission no one could have anticipated.
3. Canadian Refuge
Bruce Beach didn’t just choose a random spot in Canada to set up base in 1970. In fact, he relocated to his wife Jean’s hometown of Horning’s Mills, a small village in a rural corner of Ontario two hours outside of Toronto.
Bruce was certain that this was the safest place to be in the world. And he hadn’t just gone to Canada in search of safety. He had huge plans in mind! If a certain calamity was imminent, he was going to do something about it in the most incredible way.
4. Metal Menagerie
Between 1980 and 1985, Bruce began to do something particularly unusual. The 83-year-old started to collect old and retired school buses wherever he could find them, purchasing each one for about $300! He ordered them directly to his home address.
In the end, Bruce managed to amass a total of 42 schoolbuses! It had been a costly venture, but he was convinced it was necessary. The task he had in mind was of the highest possible importance. Rural Ontario might have plenty of open space, but where did Bruce plan on parking all of them!? What’s more, what would he do with his strange collection?
5. Digging For Safety
Bruce wanted the buses for a specific reason: they had been built covered with reinforced steel roofs. In his mind, this meant they were blast-proof. He arranged them systematically, side by side, with precise plans for each one. Then he dismantled them, connecting each bus to one another.
On a wide space of land stretched out over 12.5 acres near his property, Bruce created a massive pit in the earth around his impressive bus collection. With some help, he dug until the huge hole measured 14 feet underground, and then completely covered the buses. The reason Bruce buried them underground would leave most people utterly dumbfounded.
Now that his 42 schoolbuses were totally covered under 14 feet of earth, Bruce finalized his plan. He had the pit containing the buses sealed in by two feet of solid concrete, never again to see the light of day.
This collection was not for showing off. Bruce had better plans. He opened each bus and connected all of them into a labyrinth. Together, they form an underground shelter of proportions that is nothing short of astounding. But why did he build it?
7. Ark Two
When he finally completed his project, Bruce Beach had built one of the most massive underground structures in North America. He christened it Ark Two. This enormous underground maze consisted of a staggering 10,000 square feet – quite the undertaking!
Inside the protective walls of Ark Two, Bruce can fit a maximum capacity of 500 people — if you are lucky enough to be let in!! He designed it fully believing that many people would need to use it. The biggest mystery, however, is the purpose this labyrinth of buried buses serves.
Bruce Beach had to think very carefully about what kind of people he was going to allow inside Ark Two, and under what circumstances. He is afraid of sick people getting into his underground creation, especially anyone who carries an infectious disease.
Even if people appear to be physically healthy, Bruce wants to screen them under strict standards. They could bring in contaminants from above ground, and as he sees it, Ark Two has to be absolutely sterile. He had to find a solution.
Bruce built Ark Two with not one, but seven separate entrances. But before anyone can be allowed into the area, they will have to be checked out for being a risk to others. That means a rigorous screening and shower immediately upon entry.
Bruce will only admit people into Ark Two after they have passed through the decontamination chamber he’s designed. He has to be certain his new arrivals won’t endanger the survival of the others. No disease will enter the Ark Two facility on his watch! Bruce went about implementing this strict rule from the get-go for a very specific reason.
10. Proper Protection
Upon first glance, the concept of a bunch of old buses thrown together in a pit in the middle of nowhere sounds quite haphazard. Thankfully, in the process of constructing his dream project of Ark Two, Bruce Beach has had more than a little help.
According to Bruce, the bunker is structurally sound. Everything was constructed under the supervision of a structural engineer with all the necessary licensing required for a job of this nature. But what convinced the engineer that this seemingly bizarre project was worth taking part in?
11. Reinforcing The Labyrinth
Trust Bruce on this one — he says the person who helped supervise construction of Ark Two was none other than the very same one who built the subway system in Toronto! And if it’s good enough for Canada’s biggest city, then certainly it’s good enough for what Bruce intends.
The place comes stocked with diesel generators that can last up to three months with the fuel supplies Bruce has managed to gather and save. There is a fully equipped and functional plumbing system. But what about all the facilities for a human being’s most basic needs?
12. Basic Necessities
It’s great that there’s a plumbing system, but what about an even more basic need? First and foremost, for what Bruce intends his bus labyrinth to become, any person who would need to get inside the hidden tunnels of Ark Two will need fresh water to drink.
Bruce has engineered his own well for the drinking water supply. For the circumstances in which Bruce would need to get inside, Ark Two will absolutely have to be self-sufficient. As he foresees the future, he can’t rely on outside water because it might be contaminated! But Bruce has an even more intricate plan up his sleeve.
13. Subterranean Kitchen
Ark Two has a massive soup tureen, as well as a working oven. Bruce has drafted a friend who is a cook to be on the guest list for Ark Two when the time arrives. The way he envisions it, there will be a constant supply of freshly-baked biscuits for everyone.
Stocking up enough food to feed an entire population inhabiting Ark Two is not without its difficulties. Bruce has been frustrated because he has had to throw out a lot of food over the years. But he’s careful to keep it well-stocked. He’s thinking ahead.
14. Separated For Their Own Good
For the living quarters that comprise a decently large part of Ark Two, Bruce has a system in mind in order to keep things in check. He has devised a strict policy of having men and women sleep separately for a particular reason.
According to Bruce, having families stay together in the sleeping chambers wouldn’t allow enough space for others. He’s trying to maximize the amount of people the bunks can fit. If his future guests don’t want to follow the gender segregation rules, they won’t be allowed in! Why all these strange rules, though? What is Bruce preparing for so meticulously?
15. Child’s Play
Over the past four or so decades that Bruce has spent constructing Ark Two, he has had time to think outside of the box. He doesn’t want it to have to be bare bones essentials, and certainly not for the younger generation.
He wants any child coming in there to be able to continue their learning as best as possible. He has chess sets for them, a play area with toys and tricycles, a nursery and classroom, as well as children’s bunks. And that’s not all.
16. Additional Features
Besides living, the area comes with some extra bonuses. Bruce has had many long years to think up different objects and accessories that the people under his care might need. He even has a dentist’s chair, a mortuary — and a brig for anyone who disobeys rules!
Discipline is key, and to maintain order, he made and installed three security monitors. Always thinking creatively, Bruce has even converted a rusty old exercise bike into his own wheat-grinding mill, powered by a person pedaling! But you can’t stay down there forever…
17. Is There Anybody Out There?
Even if someone has gone voluntarily into Ark Two, Bruce knows it’s still important to understand as best as possible what’s happening in the world around them. Even if Bruce Beach is preparing for holding 500 people beneath the earth, he still needs to be in touch.
To achieve this, Bruce has rigged up an entire radio communications system. It is capable of broadcasting both AM and FM frequencies and has a wide-enough range that it could reach all of Canada and the United States. Why would Bruce need to reach that many people? What’s he up to?
Bruce Beach belongs to a category of people who call themselves “preppers”. These are a band of characters who are convinced that the apocalypse is coming and it’s high time to get prepared. There’s a variety of reasons they feel this way.
Some believe the end is near for religious reasons, while some pointed to the Ancient Mayan calendar’s predictions in 2012 (since passed, of course). Bruce left the United States nearly half a century ago and built Ark Two, but his terror stems from something else entirely! And he’s far from alone.
19. Banding Together
There’s strength in numbers, and seeing as the majority of people around the “preppers” don’t believe them, they band together. They hold Annual Preppers Meetings, but these are not for emotional support. These people want to learn from each other how best to prepare for the worst.
The meetings run like workshops, teaching participants how they can best deal with living in the shadow of the apocalypse. They have classes such as “Zombie Survival Camp,” “Surviving In The Wilderness,” and “Dispatching And Skinning Rabbits.” So what do Bruce’s fellow survivalists think about Ark Two?
20. Off Limits, For Now
Getting inside Ark Two is a rare gift. Bruce Beach is very protective of his masterpiece. Any tour of the facility is not free. Even members of the press who have visited trying to report on Ark Two will have to be deemed worthy to do so.
Some journalists were not allowed inside Ark Two until they had performed something that could benefit Bruce, or his future refugees. They got on his good side by doing a chore: chopping firewood. Once in, they discovered that not everything underground is fine and dandy.
21. The Costs Of Ark Two
Being the owner and protector of Ark Two has come at a cost for Bruce Beach and his family, and not just financially. Maintaining such an enormous structure for such a long time, and doing it more or less by himself, is a never-ending challenge.
Rats found the bags of wheat that Bruce had been storing, and once they had gorged themselves, destroying his supplies, they ran into his home. He’s also had to deal with fires, floods, and theft. And there’s problems from outside too.
22. The Opposition To Ark Two
The local government in Ontario is not happy about this structure. In their eyes, it’s one huge dangerous hazard. Never mind what Bruce views as his service to the greater public — they’re not having it. As far as they’re concerned, they want it destroyed.
Every part of Ark Two was built without permits, though not for Bruce’s lack of trying to get them! He’s been taken in court more than 30 times, and the local government has spent over $250,000 to try and shut him down. And he’s made enemies on the ground, all in the name of his vision, which is driven by one particular reason.
23. Closing Ark Two
Bruce’s local fire department in his corner of Ontario is more direct than the government. Rather than waging legal battles, they’ve taken action. Fire brigades have come and physically sealed off the structure off twice, leaving Bruce the job of figuring out how to reopen it.
In 2015, during a gathering of Canadian survivalists on Bruce’s property, the fire department threatened to shut down Ark Two a third time. For Bruce, these interventions are merely preventing him from doing his job of saving people from destruction. So what does his family think?
24. Help From Home
Not just anyone would go along with Bruce’s idea, which is that a nuclear apocalypse is knocking at our front door. Luckily for him, he’s got a partner in his wife, Jean. She’s 90 years old, and hard of hearing, but she still helps him with inventory and planning.
Fortunately for Bruce, Jean has supported him this whole way through and isn’t about to stop. The Cold War has long since ended, but that has done nothing to soothe their fears. But Bruce has children — how do they feel about this incredible plan?
25. Skeptics From Within
Bruce’s children are adults now, with children of their own. They’re not shy about expressing that they have had enough of their father’s apocalyptic worldview, and are done participating in it. You can’t necessary blame them; imagine growing up in that sort of environment!
Never mind the fact that Ark Two is equipped to shelter children from a nuclear attack: it must be exhausting having that heavy and frightening atmosphere dominating and defining your life from such an early age. But how does their opinion affect Bruce?
26. True Motives
Many years have passed, with the threat of nuclear war rising and falling. Bruce Beach will do what he knows how: prepare to survive. He doesn’t care what people think about him. He believes he’s doing his best to try and help society. But it goes beyond that.
Bruce even thinks a lot of “preppers” are selfish in their motives. He says some of them are far too focused on their own survival, and not thinking about helping their fellow man. But that’s not his goal. The way he envisions things, Ark Two exceeds their visions. How?
Ark Two is also known by the name SAFE, which stands for “Safe America For Everyone”. In Bruce’s far-reaching vision, Ark Two is meant to be a true melting pot to shelter those in need, open to people regardless of politics, religion, culture, race.
As the manager of the largest nuclear shelter in North America, in the event of an actual catastrophic attack, Bruce would be responsible for managing an entire society of hundreds. He wants it to be clear that all are welcome: you just have to get in! But for how long can it last?
28. A Temporary Solution
By his estimates, Bruce thinks that Ark Two should be able to hold people for up to three weeks. But that’s strictly under the worst-case scenario; ideally, he hopes people would be able to refuel, rest, and continue on to the next safe place.
Granted, although Bruce Beach has done — and continues to do — the best that he can in order to help others, his vision doesn’t exactly take into account the real-life effects of a nuclear winter. What does he think will set this off?
29. Bruce Predicts
Bruce Beach first became concerned about nuclear war during his time as a radio control tower operator in the US Air Force, and as a former professor of computer science. Forget the old nuclear threats from the Soviets, and the recent ones from North Korea. He has another theory.
In his mind, nuclear war is a ‘when’, not an ‘if’. And according to him, when the nuclear apocalypse comes Bruce, he’s convinced it will be set off by a chain of events that start with Pakistan nuking India. And he has one positive message through the chaos.
30. A New Hope
In Bruce’s mind, despite the terrifying visions of a nuclear winter that he describes, this is not the end, but the beginning. He describes the entire process of rehabilitation that he wants to take part in as giving birth to a new type of humanity.
Marta Iwanek/Toronto StarBruce Beach has his fair share of supporters as well as detractors. But whatever people may think of him, the amount of labor and painstaking care that Bruce has almost singlehandedly poured into the creation of Ark Two is nothing short of amazing.
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