Tuesday, 9 August 2011

We Need Our Roads

By 1920 a road had been established from Port Arthur/Fort William (Thunder Bay), to Nipigon and extended up the Settler's Road to Hydro (Cameron Falls, a community built when the dams were being constructed, now extinct.) In 1937 the first highway bridge over the Nipigon River was opened and traffic could drive toward Schrieber to the East (Highway 17) and toward Beardmore  to the North (Highway 11).

It may seem like it was slow progress to you but one could say the elements are tougher to battle up here.  People we have had in varying numbers, from pre-historic times to before LaVerendreye took over Fort Ste Anne in 1723 somewhere on Nipigon's waterfront property.  Water transportation gave way to rail and rail has now bowed out for roads. We need our road.  It brings our food, our protection, our education, our health care, our communications , our resources, our businesses and our livelihood.

In 1949 the Federal Government took a leadership roll in the development of The Trans-Canada Highway Act.


The men worked in all weather.


The work got easier as equipment arrived.

That Act created a man-made wonder to show off to the world! In 1963 the Canadian Government Travel Bureau considered it a world wide tourist attraction for Canada, billing it the longest National Highway in the world. Canadian Geographical Journal ran cover stories on the completion.

Ontario has 1,453 miles (2338 km) of the Trans-Canada Highway.

By 1986, when Rick Hansen left Wawa, Ontario, on his trek west, the Canadian Press Wire Service reported that he was traveling into the most desolate area on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Forty-eight years ago it was considered a fine road. At that time the people of Ontario and Canada had a right to be proud of it. The Northern Ontario portion was many years in the making.  It slowly evolved from Dominion Government Unemployment Relief road building work camps of the Thirties that were funded both federally and provincially.


A thousand men were employed between Nipigon and Schrieber.

 Even until the late Fifties and early Sixties, wild areas such as Quetico Park were almost unreachable by land. Certainly construction today would be a lot simpler than at the time of the original building when men and equipment had to be brought in by boat, and aircraft were used to fly in supplies to the field camps.  The Superior North Shore still is a wildly rugged land of rocks, gorges, rushing rivers, vast swamps and dense forests...but now we have a road.

One Road.

91 years later, one road.

Joining communities from Nipigon to Thunder Bay, one road.

Joining Canada East with Canada West, one road.

But, let's get our hopes up. Four-laning between Nipigon and Thunder Bay has been started!

Many more Highway construction photos are in the Nipigon Historical Museum photo archives and two binders for easy viewing.
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