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 difficult section (“the Gap”) between Sault Ste Marie and Wawa opened on September 17, 1960 [More about Agawa section…]
- The Rogers Pass (in BC) opened with a ceremony on September 3, 1962 [More about Rogers Pass…], and
- and when the paving of the Trans-Canada across Newfoundland was completed on November 27, 1965 with the opening ceremony in Grand Falls on July 1966 (often credited as having happened in 1965) [More about Newfoundland…]
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.
Trans-Canada Highway History
As early as 1910, there were calls for a national road across Canada, and Tofino laid claim to the “western 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 ceremony in Wawa the next summer. Newfoundland was the last province to complete its highway, in 1967.
Other Neat Info
We are affiliated with FoundLocally.com, an excellent source of community information for communities, both large and small, along the length of the Trans-Canada Highway. Links to FoundLocally content (and to other fine web sites) are made where appropriate, particularly on the highway route travel Itineraries.
We have also added new content, to help you get more out your drive between the cities, with information about what you can see along the way the geography, the flora & forests, the fauna & wildlife, and the farming & agriculture (More will be added to our site, soon).
Check out the Travel Information page, or the info for each province, using the menu at the top!