Highway 19 north of Nanaimo
Highway 19, is the main north-south route on Vancouver Island from Nanaimo to Port Hardy, and extension of Highway 1 from Victoria to Nanaimo. A gravel roadway has existed on the Island since about 1912, and was paved in 1953 between Nanaimo and Campbell River, and it was finally being extended to the northern tip of the island in the late 1970s. By 1976, highway 19 was extended north to Port Hardy, to the Bear Cove ferry terminal, to provide ferry access to Prince Rupert, the mainland terminus of the Yellowhead Highway #16.
From Nanaimo to just south of Parksville, Highway 19 is a 4-lane, divided arterial highway with a concrete median barrier. From Parksville north to Campbell River, the highway is divided with a grass median. North of Campbell River, Highway 19 stretch is an undivided two-lane configuration. The total length of highway 19 is 403 kilometres (250 mi).
Highway 4, Parkville to Tofino/Ucluelet
Highway 4 is the longest east–west main vehicle route on Vancouver Island, with a total length of 162 km (101 mi). It is known locally as the Alberni Highway to the east of Port Alberni and the Pacific Rim Highway to the west.
The original highway from Parksville to Alberni and Port Alberni was completed in 1942 and was originally designated as Highway 1A. It was re-designated as Highway 4 in 1953.
The road to Tofino was a gravel logging road (and a dangerous one at that). In 1955, forestry companies BC Forest Products and MacMillan Bloedel Ltd did blasting at the Kennedy rock bluff and also completed the Sproat Lake section, which had tight switchbacks and a steep drop-off without guardrails. The road was opened to the public in 1959.
The road west from Port Alberni was extended in 1961 to the district of Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, connecting Pacific Rim National Park to the rest of Canada. Paving started in the late 1960’s and was completed by 1972, at which point the switchbacks were replaced with a more driveable graded route.