The Trans-Canada Highway: connecting Canadians from coast to coast

On September 3, 1962, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker officially opened the Trans-Canada Highway...

  • May. 26, 2017 5:00 a.m.
Two travellers in front of a Trans-Canada Highway sign near Ottawa

Two travellers in front of a Trans-Canada Highway sign near Ottawa

By Staff Black Press

On September 3, 1962, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker officially opened the Trans-Canada Highway at a ceremony in Rogers Pass, British Columbia. However, the highway, which stretches 7,821 kilometres between St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Victoria, British Columbia, was in fact only completed to determined specifications in 1971.

Formal construction began in 1950 under the Trans-Canada Highway Act, which set up parameters for cost sharing between the federal and provincial governments to build the roadways. Some sections had already been constructed, such as Highway 17 in Ontario, while others were yet to be formed at all. The project was scheduled for completion sometime in 1956, but certain stretches proved more difficult to construct than anticipated. The two most challenging sections were the passage alongside Lake Superior between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa in Ontario and the mountainous area through Revelstoke and Golden in British Columbia. In Ontario, the difficulty lay in the need to build 25 bridges and clear 98 kilometres of virgin forest. The task was at last completed in September of 1960. In British Columbia, work was delayed and plans were revised due to the site being under constant threat of an avalanche. Snow sheds and earth dams were constructed to ensure the safety of workers, and the Department of National Defence was enlisted to help guard future motorists against potential calamities—a job it still performs to this day. The stretch was opened to the public on June 30, 1962.

As all roadways do, the Trans-Canada Highway continues to evolve, with many provinces electing to add new stretches to the already established route. In many locations, twinning—the process of broadening the highway to add two full lanes on either side of a median—is also underway (or already compete in the case of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba).

In addition to the 7,821-kilometre main stretch, several alternative routes are considered official segments of the Trans-Canada Highway, bringing its total length to 12,800 kilometres of pavement. For example, in the Maritimes, one passage crosses Prince Edward Island while another avoids it, venturing exclusively through Nova Scotia. In Ontario, motorists can either follow the coast of Lake Superior or head north and cruise through the forested area of Kapuskasing. And west of Winnipeg, travellers can choose to stay on the original stretch and pass through Regina, Calgary and Banff, or take an alternate route further north, along the Yellowhead Highway, that traverses Saskatoon, Edmonton and Jasper.

No matter which route you take or how much time you spend on the highway, however, one thing you’ll never come across is its end: both St. John’s and Victoria claim the prestige of being mile zero of the world’s longest road.

 

Just Posted

file photo
UPDATE: Leduc RCMP, Millet Fire Department and more on scene at serious multi-vehicle collision

Traffic is expected to be diverted for several hours and alternative travel routes are recommended.

File photo
Leduc RCMP request assistance to identify armed robbery suspect

Leduc RCMP are searching for suspect involved in an armed robbery at the Leduc Giant Tiger.

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read