ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth

Atlin, British Columbia, Needs a Highway (1949)

A Guide to the Atlin Road

This editorial was written by Whitehorse Star publisher Horace E. Moore and appeared in the February 18, 1949 edition.

NO EXCUSES, PLEASE! Whitehorse Star, 1949

    For several years past the British Columbia government has included in its yearly estimates an appropriation for the construction of a highway from the town of Atlin to Jake's Corner at the boundary of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in the hope and expectation that the Federal government would allocate the funds necessary to continue the construction of the highway through the Yukon Territory to the town of Whitehorse. As a matter of fact this portion of the highway within the Yukon Territory was surveyed by Federal government surveyors two or more years ago. And there the project has rested to this day with the result that Atlin has, in recent years been gradually decimated, through innanition, due wholly to the lack of adequate and vital transportation facilities.

    It is well to recall at this time that, as far as the mining industry of British Columbia is concerned the Atlin district has played a prominent part especially in placer mining. The largest nugget ever discovered in the province was found in the Atlin district and was purchased by the government of British Columbia for exhibition purposes and today adorns the provincial mining exhibits in Victoria. But in recent years, like other mining districts, and due primarily in the first instance to the outbreak of Worrd War II, the Atlin camp became depleted of man-power. Since that time the numerous mining properties have been at a standstill awaiting facilities for further development.

    But the whole Atlin country is much more than a mining camp. It possesses an even greater asset in its scenic beauty which is not surpassed in any part of the North American continent. Well has it been named "The Switzerland of North America." This valuable potential asset, however, is incapable of development due solely to the lack of transportation facilities and particularly a main artery to give it an outlet to the outside world.

    The building of this highway between Atlin and Whitehorse, so long sought and so long over-due, is a matter of vital importance both to Yukoners and Atlinites alike. Once it is constructed and becomes part of the Alaska Highway system the initial cost of construction will be infinitesimal compared to the revenue which will be derived from the travelling public in the years ahead.

    These salient and undeniable facts have been placed before the proper authorities from time to time in the past and have received the fullest endorsation by the Atlin, Whitehorse and Vancouver Boards of Trade, the Associated Boards of Trade of British Columbia and Alaska, and the Canadian Chambers of Commerce, and still no directive has been issued as yet for the construction of this much-needed highway without further delay.

    Hitherto stated reasons have been advanced in support of the delays which have been suffered in the carrying out of its construction to completion but the time for these has also passed and no valid excuses can at this late stage be adduced to justify the same. The construction of this highway is of paramount importance for this whole north country and any further delay in its construction will be inexcusable and certainly unacceptable by those who are so vitally affected, both individually and collectively, in the matter. They are convinced that there is no valid reason why the highway should not be constructed and completed this year since to their own knowledge there is adequate equipment available within the affected area and a sufficient number of qualified and experienced contractors ready to undertake the work as soon as an opportunity is afforded them of doing so.

    Like many others, we are not unmindful of the fact that there is to be both a general and provincial election held this year. It is to be hoped that the results of same, as far as Northern British Columbia and Southern Yukon Territory is concerned, will not be adversely affected by a short-sighted policy on the part of the governments concerned.

This article has been re-printed exactly as originally published, with words such as "innanition" and typos such as "Worrd" remaining.

Note that the facts and geography in the opening paragraph are incorrect (and were incorrect in 1949). Jake's Corner is 27 miles north of the BC-Yukon border, and the Alaska Highway had been completed from Jake's Corner to Whitehorse (52 miles). A couple of months after this editorial appeared, Ottawa did allocate $450,000 for construction of the road, and it was opened to public traffic in December 1949, at a cost of $679,000.