History and Importance of the Trans-Canada HighwayBefore modern transportation systems existed, crossing Canada by horse or boat could take months. Railroads, planes, and automobiles greatly reduced travel time. The construction of the Trans-Canada Highway was approved in 1949 by an act of Canada's Parliament. Construction occurred in the 1950s, and the highway opened in 1962, when John Diefenbaker was Canada's Prime Minister.
The Trans-Canada highway is extremely beneficial to Canada's economy. The highway allows Canada's abundant natural resources to be shipped across the world. The highway brings many tourists to Canada yearly. The government continually upgrades the highway to ensure its safety and convenience.
British Columbia and the Prairie ProvincesThe Trans-Canada Highway has no official starting point, but Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is the westernmost city on the highway. Victoria is located very near the Pacific Ocean at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Travelers can drive north to Nanaimo, and then cross the Strait of Georgia by ferry to reach Vancouver and the mainland of Canada. The highway crosses British Columbia. In the eastern part of the province, the Trans-Canada Highway travels through the city of Kamloops, the Columbia River, Rogers Pass, and three national parks - Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, and Yoho.
The Trans-Canada Highway enters Alberta at Banff National Park, located in the Rocky Mountains. Banff, the oldest national park in Canada, is home to Lake Louise. Banff's Kicking Horse Pass, located in the Continental Divide, is the highest point on the Trans-Canada Highway, at 1643 meters (5,390 feet, above one mile in elevation). Calgary, the largest city in Alberta, is the next major destination on the Trans-Canada Highway. The highway travels through Medicine Hat, Alberta, before entering Saskatchewan.
In Saskatchewan, the Trans-Canada Highway travels through the cities of Swift Current, Moose Jaw, and Regina, the capital of the province.
In Manitoba, travelers drive through the cities of Brandon, Portage la Prairie, and Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba.
Yellowhead HighwayBecause the Trans-Canada Highway is located in the southern portion of the four westernmost provinces, a route through the center of these provinces became necessary. The Yellowhead Highway was constructed in the 1960s and opened in 1970. It begins near Winnipeg, Manitoba and heads northwest through Saskatoon (Saskatchewan), Edmonton (Alberta), Jasper National Park (Alberta), Prince George (British Columbia), and ends in coastal Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
OntarioIn Ontario, the Trans-Canada Highway passes through the cities of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, and North Bay. However, the highway does not pass through the region around Toronto, which is Canada's most heavily populated region. Toronto is located farther south than the main highway route. The highway straddles the border with Quebec and reaches Ottawa, the capital of Canada.
QuebecIn Quebec, a province which is mostly French-speaking, the Trans-Canada Highway eases access to Montreal, the second largest city in Canada. Quebec City, Quebec's capital, is located slightly north of the Trans-Canada Highway, across the St. Lawrence River. The Trans-Canada Highway turns west at the city of Riviere-du-Loup and enters New Brunswick.
The Maritime ProvincesThe Trans-Canada Highway continues into the Canadian Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. In New Brunswick, the highway reaches Fredericton, the capital of the province, and Moncton. The Bay of Fundy, home to the world's highest tides, is located in this region. At Cape Jourimain, travelers can take the Confederation Bridge over the Northumberland Strait and reach Prince Edward Island, the smallest Canadian province by area and population. Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island.
South of Moncton, the highway enters Nova Scotia. The highway does not reach Halifax, Nova Scotia's capital. At North Sydney, Nova Scotia, travelers can take a ferry to the island of Newfoundland.