Opened to unrestricted travel in 1947, the road was regraded and widened by Canadian army engineers during the next 17 years, until it was turned over (1964) to the federal department of public works, which has continued to improve it. Some of the road has been paved, but hundreds of kilometres are bituminous surface-treated to carry the traffic, which ranges from 220 vehicles a day in isolated areas to 1700 a day near Whitehorse.
Maintenance is a continual battle against nature, with floods and landslides in spring and blizzards and extreme cold in winter, when temperatures of -48°C can cause bulldozer blades to crack like glass. Although originally built for military purposes, the highway has helped the forestry, oil, mining, tourist and trucking industries. It provided an important impetus to the development of Edmonton as a supply centre and, as an enduring link to northern BC and the Yukon, has had the psychological benefit of ending the isolation of the North.
Author C.W. GILCHRIST
Links to Other Sites
Yukon: Larger Than Life
An extensive visitors guide to all there is to see and do in the scenic and historic Yukon. Includes community profiles. From Tourism Yukon.
Yukon Community Profiles
Click on the map for essential information about many communities situated in the Yukon Territory. See the menu on the left for details about municipal services, population data, local economic activity, and more.
Deh Cho Travel Connection
An extensive online guide to the Deh Cho Travel Connection, a remarkable journey through Canada’s north that traverses the Mackenzie, Liard, and Alaska Highways. Click on the links for more information about the history of the route, interactive maps, and details about local communities, parks, and wildlife. From the website for Industry, Tourism and Investment, Government of the Northwest Territories.
Dane-zaa Stories & Songs: Dreamers and the Land
Explore the oral histories of the Dane-zaa through the stories and songs brought to the people by Dreamers (Nááchê). Also learn about the Doig River First Nations, one of the Dane-zaa communities of the Peace River area of BC. Includes an online teachers' guide and notes about the Dane-zaa Záágéʔ language, a member of the Athabaskan language family. Requires Flash or Quick Time media programs. From the Virtual Museum of Canada.
A guide to historical highlights of Burwash Landing, a community situated on the southwest shore of Kluane Lake in the Yukon.
The Memory Project: Alaska Highway
Listen to an interview with a Canadian veteran about his military service during the Second World War. Includes a reference to the Alaska Highway. Also check out related digitized artefacts and memorabilia. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.