80th Year: Alaska Highway Portal
1942 – 2022
It was the greatest infrastructure project Canada’s North has ever seen, built in record time. The Alaska Highway, starting at Dawson Creek, B.C. and ending in Fairbanks, was planned and paid for by a foreign government to aid in a war that had engulfed the entire world but hadn’t touched the wilderness north of 60.
While the highway has put the Yukon far ahead of its neighbours in accessibility and industrial opportunity today, such towering achievements always cast shadows. The inhabitants of the land saw their world disappear without warning in moments, and the new one bore a heavy cost. – From Paths of Glory by Tim Edwards
The Alaska Highway Corridor crosses provincial, territorial, international and cultural boundaries as it winds through northern British Columbia, southern Yukon and into Alaska. Its geography, geology, flora and fauna encompass arable lands at its south end and sub-Arctic conditions in the north. The human footprint in the Corridor is most clearly evident in the highway itself, in its towns and in protected places, such as Kluane National Park. A closer look reveals that the Corridor has many stories to tell through less obvious human imprints on the landscape, such as places of importance to First Nations, former trading posts along the waterways, old trails and relics from the Second World War era.
The Corridor’s centrepiece is the Alaska Highway. Over a distance of almost 2,237 km, it crosses five summits ranging from 975 m to 1,280 m to serve residents, tourism, forestry, mining and the oil and gas industry. The highway is divided into three distinct sections. In British Columbia it is known as Highway 97; in the Yukon as Highway 1; and in Alaska as Highway 2. It runs through diverse natural eco-regions, from the Peace River Plains through boreal forests and mountain ranges.
The Highway itself was a significant feat of engineering and was recognized as an event of national historic significance in 1954, and as an International Historic Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers and Canadian Society for Civil Engineering in 1996.