The Trans-Canada Highway Route
The Trans-Canada Highway between Victoria (BC) and St. John's (NF) is the world's longest national highway with a length of 7,821 km (4,860 mi.) The midpoint of the highway is at Batchwana Bay, about 65 km north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. We have lots of information about start and end-points of the highway (and what -despite tales to the contrary- aren't).
The highway had THREE different and distinct "openings":
The highest spot on the Trans-Canada is Kicking Horse Pass (on
the Alberta-BC border, the continental divide) with an elevation of 1643 m, which incidentally is 316 m higher than
the Rogers Pass. The Rogers Pass portion of the highway was paved in 1962, completing the coast-to-coast highway (see more complete history of the highway).
The Trans-Canada Highway links several provincial highways, some of which are 4-lane divided, but many stretches (much through isolated wilderness and agricultural land) are still 2 lanes. It connects Highway #1 (#16 is the northern route) in the BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with #17 in Ontario (#69, #12, #7 in the southern route), #40, #20 and #185 in Quebec, #2 in New Brunswick, #104 and #105 in Nova Scotia, and #1 in PEI and in Newfoundland. There is no Trans-Canada Highway through the Yukon, Northwest Territories, or in Nunavut (nor in Newfoundland's Labrador). See our travel itineraries for mile-by-mile details of each section of the highway.
We've also compiler our list of top "must see" attractions along the way. This list has 14 items that we feel charcterizes Canada and the Canadian experience. The mid-point of the highway is at Batchwanana Bay, just noth of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, on the Sault to Wawa segment, which was opened in 1963. We appreciate your feedback.
For detailed maps for each province, click on its name at the TOP OF THE PAGE. Or you can click on the MAP to view specific route itineraries.
Trans-Canada Highway History
As early as 1910, there were calls for a national road across Canada, and Tofino laid claim to the "wetern terminus" in that year, a dream unfulfilled, but the sign remains on its waterfront to this day. The first post of the Canadian Highway was planted in Victoria in 1912. The first successful crossing of Canada by car was in 1912, when Thomas Wilby supplemented existing dirt roads with railway rights of way along the rugged Lake Superior north shore and over the Rocky Mountains.
Some sections of the highway were paved early on (for example, Highway 17 in Northern Ontario was paved in 1937), while others had major construction challenges and would require federal support.
In 1949, the federal Trans-Canada Highway Act set out Provincial and Federal cost-sharing for construction of the roadway, which would revolutionize travel as well as transport in Canada. This public work project rivaled the cost and economic impact of the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway (which was completed in 1959).
Construction of the highway formally began in 1950 and would continue for several more years. The Trans-Canada Highway was officially opened by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker at a ceremony in Roger's Pass, British Columbia on September 3, 1962, with a follow-up cermony in Wawa the next summer. Newfoundland was the last province to complete its highway, in 1967.
More detailed history...