Chapter VIII
Activities in Western Canada

Before 7 December 1941 the Canadian and U.S. military effort in North America reflected an almost complete absorption in the defense problems of the eastern seaboard. This was a natural consequence of the fact that a shooting war was in progress in the Atlantic. The Pearl Harbor attack and the resulting Japanese menace to the west coast and Alaska produced a reorientation of U.S. military effort in North America. Alaska, whose needs had until then been subordinated to the needs of the Atlantic war and of advanced Pacific bases, found itself enjoying a much higher priority for U.S. military resources. Within a matter of months, a substantial reinforcement of the Alaskan garrison had taken place.

Simultaneously a force of U.S. personnel, both military and civilian, poured into northwest Canada to build the logistical facilities needed to support the defense of that quarter of the continent. United States military strengh in northwest Canada in late 1942 exceeded 15,000, and in the next year, when some of the troops had been replaced by civilian workers, U.S. civilians alone exceeded that figure. On 1 June 1943 the total strength of the American personnel in northwest Canada was over 33,000. In some instances the United States was able to utilize existing air-base and other facilities, expanded by either or both countries to meet wartime requirements. Other projects were carved out of the virgin wilderness, in some cases in areas never before surveyed. It was here in western Canada that the joint U.S.-Canadian war effort left its biggest and most lasting imprint.

It was in western Canada, too, that joint efforts produced the biggest administrative headaches. Shortages of men, materials, and machines were inevitable. Dislocations caused by rapidly changing requirements could not always be avoided. In order to curb competition for available materials, as already noted, the Canadian Government incorporated a crown company, North West Purchasing Limited, on 19 February 1943. Purchases by this company in northwest Canada to meet the requirements of both Canadian and U.S. forces amounted to more than one million dollars a month at the height of construction activity. When the high wage scales paid by U.S. contractors threatened to undermine Canadian wage and price ceilings, the Canadian Government on 17 May 1943 established a Western Labor Board


at Edmonton and invited the United States to name a representative to act as a special consultant to the board.1

The addition of large numbers of Americans, sometimes less concerned with the amenities of international and human relations than with the compelling urge to get the job done, to communities already overcrowded could not help but produce occasional friction and misunderstanding. However, when the tide of the U.S. influx had receded and the fog of friction and misunderstanding had been dispelled, the solidity of the accomplishments of Canadians and Americans working side by side in the spirit of friendly co-operation gave testimony to the relative insignificance of the discordances.

Throughout most of the war the activities in northwest Canada remained free from any real threat from enemy operations. Except for the planning and other defense measures, Canadian-U.S. co-operation until the end of 1944 related largely to logistical activities. After the first of the "free" Japanese balloons was recovered in California on 4 November 1944, Canada and the United States began to co-operate in measures to meet the new threat. The balloons, 331/2 feet in diameter, carried incendiary and antipersonnel bombs in suspended baskets. By the war's end, more than 9,000 had been launched from Honshu Island, althought only a small fraction of that number were known to have reached North America.2 As the flow of balloons increased in early 1945, full co-ordination between the two countries was established. Information was exchanged in the field on sightings and recoveries, and U.S. military officers at conferences attended by Canadian representatives examined the problem and arranged countermeasures. On the Washington-Ottawa level, too, a full exchange of operational and technical intelligence was maintained, as a part of which the results of the extensive U.S. studies of the balloon equipment were made available to Canada.

The Northwest Staging Route

Of the major wartime logistical projects in northwest Canada, only the Northwest Staging Route was a joint one in the sense that it was developed through the full and active participation and co-operation of the two governments. Unlike the Alaska Highway, the Canol Project, and other projects undertaken after Pearl Harbor, the staging route owed its initial development to Canadian initiative and foresight.3 Since the early 1920's bush pilots had


been pioneering airways in the general area, and in 1935 the Canadian Department of Transport initiated a survey of alternate air routes to Alaska. A partial, if not immediate, object of the survey was to seek an air route that might one day form part of the great circle route to the Orient. As a result of the survey, the air route from Edmonton to Alaska was selected as the most favorable.4

In 1939 detailed engineering work was authorized and airfields were planned at Grande Prairie, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, and Whitehorse. At the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, survey parties were in the field. In view of the airfield construction that would thereafter be required for the RCAF training program, Ottawa gave some consideration to terminating the surveys. The Canadians concluded that upon U.S. entry into the war, which was a possibility, this air route would attain real strategic importance and the surveys should therefore be pushed to completion. When the surveys were completed in January 1940, the preparation of detailed plans and specifications was initiated in Ottawa.5

The next steps in the development of the air route were not taken until after the establishment of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, when the United States began to show an interest in the project. The several drafts of the 1940 defense plan, beginning with the very first joint draft prepared by the service members of the Board on 11 September 1940, stated that, in order to execute essential defense tasks, the additional installations that would be needed included aircraft staging facilities between Alaska and the United States.6 On 4 October 1940 the Board itself, in approving its First Report to the two governments, recommended that Canada develop these facilities as soon as possible.7

The First Report was under consideration and had already received Canadian but not U.S. approval when, at the request of its Canadian chairman, Colonel Biggar, the Board was briefed on the Canadian development plans by Squadron Leader A. D. McLean, who earlier as a civilian had been the Canadian Superintendent of Airways. At this meeting, held at Victoria, British Columbia, on 14 November 1940, the Board adopted its Tenth Recommendation, which stated that Canada should provide, as soon as possible, airfields at specified locations and essential facilities to permit rapid


movement of tactical aircraft to Alaska and northwestern Canada. In addition to the airfields on the staging route to Alaska, the recommendation called for airfields at Prince George and Smithers to facilitate reinforcement of the Prince Rupert-Ketchikan area.8 The Canadian Government approved the project and on 18 December 1940 released funds for it.

Moves into the field to initiate work on the airfields began on 9 February 1941. The movement of machines and supplies to some of the selected sites was no small task. Whitehorse, Grande Prairie, and Fort St. John, all at or near rail facilities, posed no problem. Materials moved to Fort Nelson from Dawson Creek over a 300-mile frozen winter trail by tractor trains. Materials for Watson Lake moved by steamship to Wrangell, Alaska, thence by boat via the Stikine River to Telegraph Creek, by portage over seventy miles to Dease Lake, and by boat on the Dease River to Lower Post. From the last point they moved over a newly constructed road to Watson Lake.

The Permanent Joint Board on 29 July 1941 in adopting its Nineteenth Recommendation took steps to spur construction. The changed situation in the Far East, the recommendation stated, made early completion of the route a matter of extreme importance. As a result, the tasks of clearing, grading, and paving the runways were pressed during the 1941 summer construction season. Work advanced most rapidly at Whitehorse, where an airfield had already existed, and at Grande Prairie. By the end of the construction season the airway to Whitehorse was usable by daylight in good weather. Radio range stations were in operation at 200-mile intervals from Edmonton to the Alaska boundary by the' end of the year.9

In Alaska, too, where in 1940 only the airfields at Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Nome (on a limited basis) were suitable for military use, the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Authority pushed an airfield program intended to meet military as well as civilian needs. Progress on the Alaskan airfields and the extensions of the staging route was not entirely satisfactory because of difficulties of transportation and operations on the frozen ground. But by the end of 1941 runways had been completed at Nome, Big Delta, Northway, and Juneau; runways were under construction but usable at Gulkana, Bethel, Cordova, Galena, McGrath, and Naknek. In addition, the Alaska Defense Command had improved its fields at Anchorage and Fairbanks and had constructed new ones at Yakutat and Annette Island.

After the Pearl Harbor attack the staging route was sufficiently far advanced to permit its use, and Canada extended the use of its facilities to the United States. In early January 1942 the 11th Pursuit (twenty-five P--40


aircraft) and 77th Bombardment (thirteen B-26 aircraft) Squadrons were dispatched to Alaska. A month after their dispatch, thirteen P-40's had arrived, five were still en route, and the rest had crashed; only eight of the B-26's arrived, the balance also crashing at points en route. Causes contributing to this performance were inadequate training of personnel for the winter weather conditions encountered and the limited scale of airway facilities available on the route. The AAF elements en route to Alaska found the route as a whole "usable under optimum conditions," but, since such conditions had not been prevalent during the winter of 1941-42, they made the journey only with considerable difficulty.10 Throughout the same winter Canada continued the movement of supplies and further developed the route.

During the early months of 1942 a small flow of U.S. tactical aircraft continued to Alaska, and a military transport aircraft began regular supply operations between Edmonton and Fairbanks. To augment the limited military transport operations, the AAF turned to the use of commercial airlines on a contract basis, and during the remainder of 1942 contract operations constituted the major U.S. use of the Northwest Staging Route.11

In order to clarify the U.S. need for buildings and facilities on the Canadian portion of the Northwest Staging Route, initial discussions took place in Ottawa between representatives of the two governments on 11-12 March 1942. Short-term (thirty-day) as well as longer-term needs were discussed on a general basis and were then submitted in detail to the Canadian authorities in early April. Under the arrangements made, the Department of Transport was to construct hangars for use by the AAF at Edmonton and Whitehorse, and barracks, fuel storage, and miscellaneous facilities at all the main airfields, while the AAF would assist in the movement of personnel and materials. Meetings in Ottawa on 10 April reviewed and gave approval to the arrangements.12

New methods for financing Canadian construction for U.S. use, which had been discussed informally in Washington on 3 March at a meeting between C. D. Howe and Brig. Gen. Robert Olds, came under consideration at the 10 April meeting. Heretofore, Canada had been financing all construction costs on the Canadian portion of the Northwest Staging Route under an arrangement whereby each country took care of the work within its own territory.13 The Canadian authorities indicated that Canada would in the


future want payment from the United States for certain of the construction to be performed by Canada. The actual decision, taken by the Cabinet War Committee on 22 April, provided that Canada would pay for facilities of continuing value to the route, while the United States should pay for such facilities as were over and above Canadian standards and requirements and needed solely for U.S. military purposes. Regardless of the source of financing, title to all improvements was to be retained by Canada.14

Not long afterward, in June 1942, the Japanese penetration of Alaskan defenses brought the staging route into spectacular play. On 3-4 June a Japanese carrier task force attacked Dutch Harbor, and on 9 June it became known that the Japanese had occupied Kiska. To speed urgently needed troop reinforcements and supplies to Alaskan bases, the War Department on 13 June requested eleven U.S. commercial airlines to rush every aircraft that could be made available to Edmonton. Over the next few weeks an emergency airlift of almost fifty aircraft operated around the clock to deliver men and materials to Alaska. Many of the aircraft available were also used to some extent for airlifting materials with which to speed up the work on the Northwest Staging Route.15 With the emergency over, the more routine air transport operations of the U.S. Army expanded in northwest Canada.

During the first half of 1942 no subordinate field command of the Air Corps Ferrying Command was charged with responsibility for the conduct of transport operations over the Northwest Staging Route. The need for such a step was apparent, and on 16 June the Domestic Wing was charged with the conduct of U.S. ferrying operations. Since the U.S. organization in the field was to be manned by 15 July, personnel movements began at once and detachments arrived at Edmonton and Whitehorse before the' end of June. As a consequence of the reorganization of the Air Corps Ferrying Command into the Air Transport Command, and of the completion of plans for ferrying aircraft to Siberia, a new headquarters at Great Falls, Montana-the Northwest Route, Ferrying Division--was established on 14 August 1942. On 17 October in a further organizational change, the Alaskan Wing of the Air Transport Command was activated at Edmonton and assumed the transport responsibility on 1 November, superseding the headquarters at Great Falls. Although further minor organizational changes occurred, the basic pattern remained unchanged and the Alaskan Wing proceeded to


expand to strength of 1,231 on 1 January 1943, and to a peak of 9,987 in November 1944.

In midsummer 1942 the Army Air Forces was expressing dissatisfaction with the progress of the construction work on U.S. facilities in Canada. At the end of April construction of U.S. facilities had not been started, and a month later little progress toward completion of the thirty-day program had been reported. On 25 June representatives of the two countries met and revised the construction requirements to reflect the new program for ferrying aircraft to the USSR and agreed that both the new and the earlier construction programs should be completed by the end of August. Only two weeks later, on 9 July 1942, Mr. Wilson of the Department of Transport acknowledged that it was doubtful whether even the revised programs could be completed as scheduled.16

There were many factors that contributed to the lack of progress. Among them were insufficient transportation and the shortage of competent labor. The need to refer plans to Ottawa, which made U.S. officers chafe, occasioned delays. Overoptimistic or unrealistic construction schedules also appear to have contributed to the situation. Time-consuming organizational and procedural complexities added greatly to delays.17 Alterations in construction requirements may also have been a factor--for example, U.S. needs at Lethbridge and Calgary, stated on 26 August, were canceled three weeks later. As a matter of fact, the U.S. planners had great difficulty in estimating future needs for aircraft movements over the route. Estimates in 1942 ran as high as 5,000 aircraft per month, in contrast with the planning figures of from 250 to 300 used in May 1943. During the year 1943 a monthly average of over 440 aircraft actually traversed the route.

The War Department would have liked to carry out its own construction program on the Northwest Staging Route, but since it was precluded from doing so by the policy announced in March 1942 by the then Minister of Transport, C. D. Howe, that it was "in the highest degree desirable that . . . construction of additional facilities needed by the United States should be undertaken by the Department of Transport rather than by the United States Government," it sought other means to speed up the work.18 On 25 July 1942 at a conference in Great Falls, Montana, Canadian authorities considered and rejected as impracticable the use of three labor shifts or of overtime work because of the predominance of middle-aged men in the


labor force. The U.S. representatives urged that U.S. Army Engineer troops be used. Canada granted authority in August, and U.S. Engineer troops were assigned to the projects. However, because of protests from labor groups, the troops were withdrawn from the projects the same month. In September, when the strength of the Canadian civilian labor force had fallen off considerably, the U.S. Engineer troops were put back on the construction work, only to draw additional protests and be withdrawn.19

During these same months the War Department did obtain authority to construct a number of airstrips, in addition to those on the staging route, as an adjunct to the military highway being constructed. There is some evidence that this program was an effort on the part of the AAF to overcome the unsatisfactory situation on the staging route. About 1 June 1942 the U.S. Public Roads Administration, which was preparing to undertake construction tasks on the Alaska Highway, suggested that plans be included for flight strips patterned on a similar program under way along many highways in the United States. In requesting approval of the project, the AAF suggested that the flight strips "would permit the movement of Air Transport Command equipment on a much more dependable basis than . . . {has been} possible with the . . . {existing} system of airports."20 Canada agreed, on 10 September, to the formal request of 26 August 1942 for the construction of eight flight strips, by the United States at points along the Alaska Highway:21

Number Point Mile
1 Dawson Creek 0
2 Sikanni Chief River 137
3 Prophet Rive 245
4 Liard River 508
5 Pine Lake 723
6 Squanga Lake 843
7 Pon Lake 1,013
8 Burwash 1,095


The flight strips were not to prove of appreciable value to the Air Transport Command as an augmentation of Northwest Staging Route facilities. Because all available construction facilities were being used to push completion of the Alaska Highway, work on the flight strips was begun during 1942 at only one site, Dawson Creek, in late September. The first plane landed on the cleared and graded strip on 29 October, but more work remained to be done in 1943. Work on the other sites did not begin until the late summer and autumn of 1943, by which time the highway had been substantially completed. Flight strips 3, 5, and 6 were completed by the end of 1943, and 2, 4, 7, and 8 were completed in early 1944.

The American Construction Phase

United States dissatisfaction with the progress of construction continued throughout 1942, and by the beginning of 1943 the Commanding General, Army Air Forces, felt that drastic action was necessary to improve the "deplorable" condition of the staging route. He recommended that, in order to prevent serious delays in movement of aircraft to and through Alaska, the U.S. Army take over completion of the work being done by Canada to meet U.S. needs. Maj. Gen. Guy V. Henry, newly appointed Senior U.S. Army Member of the Permanent Joint Board, proceeded cautiously in acting on the request and first sought elaboration of the purported difficulties.22

On 12 February 1943 the U.S. Government informally proposed that the United States take over certain unfinished construction at Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, and Whitehorse (Plan A) and be authorized to construct additional facilities at Edmonton and Whitehorse (Plan B). The preliminary Canadian reaction was favorable and included the suggestions that the proposal would be strengthened if the Permanent Joint Board endorsed it, and that a meeting should be held to work out the details.23

Meetings of representatives of the RCAF, AAF, and Department of Transport took place in Ottawa on 18, 19, and 20 February. The labor problems arising from the shortage of labor, the competition between Canadian and U.S. contractors, and the different rates paid Canadian and U.S. laborers played a prominent part in the discussions. The conferees agreed that the Department of Transport should complete construction already under way with assistance from U.S. Engineer troops wherever practicable. This included the work at the five original staging route airfields and


FLIGHT STRIPS AT THE WATSON LAKE AIRPORT constructed by U.S. Army Engineers.

Edmonton, and at certain intermediate strips and facilities that Canada had undertaken to construct at Snag, Aishihik, Teslin, Smith River, Beatton River, and Calgary. Subject to approval of detailed plans and to certain conditions as to the use of U.S. labor, the United States was to be authorized to execute the Plan B construction at Whitehorse and Edmonton. During the meetings the U.S. representatives outlined tentative additional requirements (Plan C) emerging from plans being developed for the defeat of Japan. These requirements included an expansion of facilities at Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, Grande Prairie, and a new airfield at Namao, near Edmonton, to relieve possible congestion at the Edmonton airfield. The conferees agreed that subject to similar conditions the United States could initiate the additional construction, even the development of new airfields.24

The Permanent Joint Board on Defense at its 24-25 February 1943 meeting considered the recommendations of the conferees and adopted the Twenty-ninth Recommendation, which substantially embodied them.25


President Roosevelt approved the Board recommendation on 1 April, but Canadian action was not immediately forthcoming. In addition to pondering the question of whether to depart from the policy of having Canada accomplish all work on the Northwest Staging Route, the Canadian Government was engaged in studies and discussions designed to clarify the intergovernmental procedures for processing project requests, co-ordinating activities, and solving labor and similar problems.On 27 April the newly designated commanding officer of the Air Transport Command's Alaskan Wing, Col. D. V. Gaffney, met with Department of Transport officers in Ottawa and stated that because of changes made in U.S. development plans, his requirements were being restudied and a revised program would be submitted in place of the one then under discussion.26 On 18 May 1943, with Canadian approval not yet given to the Twentyninth Recommendation, Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Robins of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met in Ottawa with C. D. Howe, Minister of Munitions and Supply. They worked out an understanding under which the United States was to take over the work already initiated by Canada on Plan B and at other sites, to continue to utilize the, contractors already on the job, and to add others to permit faster execution of the work.27 The United States on 24 May submitted its proposals to Canada for formal approval, at the same time indicating the possible need for considerable additional expansion of the facilities.

The formal Canadian reply to the U.S. proposals, received on 3 June, appeared to counter the understandings reached at the May meeting since it approved the projects but specified that all work of a permanent character would continue to be done by the Canadian Government using Canadian labor.28 Somewhat dismayed by the apparent change in policy and concerned over its impact on the supplementary Plan C, which had been developed and awaited submission to the Canadian Government, the U.S. authorities sought informally to clarify the situation. They were advised that some confusion within the Canadian Government was the cause of the reversal, and that the matter could probably be straightened out during consideration of the new Plan C.The United States on 11 June 1943 submitted the new plan to Canada for approval, and the Cabinet War Committee on 18 June approved it subject to the following provisions:

  1. All unfinished construction under Plans A, B, and C, except in the


    Edmonton area, could be completed with U.S. labor. Canadian contractors and labor on such work were to be withdrawn.

  1. The United States could complete the work in the Edmonton area, but could use only Canadian contractors and Canadian labor.29

The Canadian Government officially notified the United States of the approval on 22 June and a few days later modified the first provision to exclude the work Canada was carrying out at Beatton River, Smith River, Teslin, Aishihik, and Snag, since the projects at these intermediate facilities were almost complete.30Except for the limitations on construction work in the Edmonton area, the revised authority conformed to the understandings reached at the 18 May meeting. On the U.S. side, the authorities were willing to give the modified arrangement a trial to see if the solution was adequate.31

The tentative departure from the 18 May understandings had apparently been the result of confusion compounded with Canadian reluctance to turn over construction tasks to the United States. There were a number of reasons for the Canadian position. First, although the bulk of the unfinished work was on Plan B projects, over and above the basic U.S. requirements, a transfer of the construction responsibility might make it appear that Canada had failed in its undertakings. Second, Canada naturally preferred to do all permanent work itself and thereby maintain full control rather than risk any trend toward the establishment of a vested U.S. interest. Nevertheless, Canada, when convinced that its construction capabilities were not equal to the expanded requirements for facilities at all points on the staging route, was ready to agree to the use of U.S. troops and labor except in the Edmonton area. In this area the labor situation in general and wages and other difficulties inherent in the operations of Canadian and U.S. contractors side by side were especially complicated. This remaining exception was a logical outgrowth of the local political and economic situation and, in the light of the release of Canadian contractors from other airfields, did no violence to the time limits for the work to be done in the Edmonton area.32

The Canadian Government took other concurrent action to help insure that the new arrangement would not allow the United States to intrude unduly upon Canadian sovereignty. On 7 July 1943 the Cabinet War Committee decided that the Canadian Government should (a) take over all


existing leases for land used by the U.S. Government, (b) assume the costs of all properties acquired for the United States and make the properties available without charge for the duration of the war, and (c) acquire any additional land required for U.S. Government use. The decision was communicated to U.S. officials in Ottawa on 7 September.33

The Canadian Government, having virtually completed the program of construction to meet the basic Canadian and U.S. requirements at the main airfields of the Northwest Staging Route, closed out its contracts and withdrew its construction forces on 12 July 1943. United States Army Engineers undertook a further program of expansion and development of the airfields to meet the increasing volume of air traffic. The major task of this program was the construction of the satellite field at Namao, seven miles north of Edmonton, the contract for which was let to a Canadian company.34 With the exception of the completion of work at a few intermediate facilities, construction at the six existing main airfields and at Namao continued throughout the remainder of 1943 under U.S. Army control. In general, Plan C, which had been reduced in scope, included repair and expansion of runways, taxiways, and parking aprons and the construction of housing and service and other facilities necessary to raise the capacity of the route to 100 transport and 350 ferried aircraft per month. By the end of the year the work was substantially complete, except at Namao, where the development had started from scratch.

In early 1944 the Air Transport Command desired to expand the capacity of the staging route to 110 transport and 425 ferried aircraft per month. For this purpose, and to provide adequate accommodations for the necessary increase in personnel, a Plan D was advanced and Canadian approval was requested. Construction under the plan consisted of items such as warehouses, gas stations, turnarounds, and warm-up aprons. In addition, approval was requested for a program of repairs to the runways of the main airfields of the route.35

These requests reached the Canadian Government shortly after it had


again revised its policies with regard to the facilities on the staging route. On 18 December 1943 Canada had notified the United States of its decision to finance all work of permanent value on the northwest route, which embraced work done by or at the request of the United States on items that had originally been considered to be over and above Canadian standards and requirements.36 The Canadian Government had also decided to reinstitute the use of Canadian contractors and labor in future development work. Its reply to the U.S. requests, while approving the projects, specified that all future construction of a permanent nature would be done by the Canadian Government not only at its expense but also through use of Canadian contractors and labor to the fullest extent possible.37

Canada apparently considered the U.S. requests a practicable opportunity to achieve several ends. First, it could re-establish more complete control over the development of the airfields, an objective that was politically desirable for the work to be done at Canadian expense. Second, it could insure employment for Canadian contractors and labor as they were being released from other projects. Too, the execution by Canada of the additional projects would provide useful experience for the postwar development of civil aviation in Canada.

The War Department sought reconsideration of the Canadian reply on the grounds that, since the change-over to Canadian labor would involve loss of at least two months, only prompt action would prevent the airports from being inoperative during the coming summer. Canada reaffirmed its position, although it authorized the United States to complete all work at Whitehorse and Fort St. John.38

With the United States at least officially resigned to the new arrangements, the Northwest Service Command found their implementation not entirely to its liking. When that headquarters learned that the design specifications for the repair and rehabilitation work had been changed by the Canadian Department of Transport, it requested opportunity to review and analyze them, citing prior Canadian agreement to consult on any changes that were made to the U.S. plans. On analyzing the Department of Transport specifications, the U.S. Army Engineers took issue with the Canadian plans for work at all four airfields-Grande Prairie, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, and Edmonton. The report of the U.S. analysis criticized the


technical adequacy of the proposed rehabilitation designs and forecast runway failures at three of the sites.39

As it turned out, the dire consequences of a change-over to Canadian responsibility predicted by the War Department for the summer of 1944 failed to materialize to the extent of having a serious impact on flight operations, although the technical discussions as to design criteria for the rehabilitation work by Canada at the four airports continued to the end of 1944 and into the spring of 1945. On V-E Day arrangements were in hand for completion of field tests for evaluation of the design criteria, but with the arrival of V-J Day the matter was dropped.

The initial conception of and much of the construction on the Northwest Staging Route were Canadian accomplishments, and only the programs of construction at the main airfields executed from July 1943 into 1944, plus some temporary and limited permanent construction thereafter, were undertaken by the United States. But the U.S. construction programs carried out during the one working season comprised a substantial portion of the total construction at the main bases. United States expenditures on the staging route project of approximately $40 million were about twice the amount of Canadian expenditures on the route during the wartime period. That so much construction could be carried out in the one season was the result of careful planning during the preceding months and of the mobilization of extraordinary resources. The use of construction facilities on a lavish scale was to some extent uneconomical, and therefore the two-to-one ratio of expenditures does not accurately measure the relative accomplishments. Nor does this ratio reflect the handicaps suffered by the Canadians in the earlier years because of the severely limited transportation facilities available.40 The eight flight strips proposed originally as adjuncts to the Alaska Highway and built by the United States came in practice to fill the need for emergency and alternate landing fields on the staging route. Except for these flight strips and minor construction at the Calgary and Prince George airfields, all facilities supplemental to the main airfields were also developed by Canada.

The wartime construction of another air route in northwest Canada was, on the other hand, almost entirely a U.S.-sponsored contribution to the expansion of the airways system of that area. As with the Northwest Staging Route, U.S. expenditures for improvements of lasting value were repaid by Canada. The development of this route, the Mackenzie River air route,


began in September 1942 soon after the initiation of the Canol Project and the construction of facilities for the operation of the water route from Waterways to Norman Wells.

The project was born in a slight fog of misunderstanding. Col. Theodore Wyman, the U.S. Army commander of the Canol Project, initiated the construction of fourteen landing strips during the summer of 1942 without having secured specific authorization from the Canadian Government. Upon learning of the project, the Canadian Government on 17 September asked about the accuracy of reports that the United States intended to construct and operate a chain of airports in the area. The inquiry pointed out that the work had been neither foreseen nor provided for in the diplomatic agreement covering the Canol Project and that the Canadian Government had not been officially informed of the project.41

In reply, the United States notified Canada that the fourteen installations would in fact be only landing strips whose construction was incidental to the prosecution of the Canol Project. No special authorization had been considered necessary since it was felt that the original agreement had encompassed essential supply lines and means of communication. The United States pointed out that special authorization had not been necessary for the developments on the water route to the Norman Wells airfields, nor had one been contemplated for the development and use of the winter roads to the same point. The United States indicated a willingness to arrange an agreement if one was considered necessary. Apparently the Canadians accepted the U.S. explanation, for they made no reply and the exchange of correspondence was later cited as the authority for the project.42

The airstrips formed a route parallel to the water route from Waterways to Norman Wells. A cutoff from Peace River to Fort Providence paralleled the winter road from the railhead at the former. All were equipped with lighting, and six with radio range beacons. The main strips were at Waterways, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, and Norman Wells. Those at Peace River, Mills Lake, Wrigley, Embarras, Fort Resolution, Hay River, Fort Providence, and Camp Canol were essentially for emergency purposes. At Waterways and Peace River, the existence of landing facilities reduced the work necessary to develop the sites to the required standards. The work of clearing and grading the strips was for the greater part accomplished by U.S. Army Engineer troops, although civilian contractors did all or part of the work at a few of the sites. Little work was done beyond the clearing and grading


and the installation of minimum flying aids. As a result, the expenditures at all sites totaled only $1,264,150.

Proposals to develop part of the Mackenzie River air route and extend it to Fairbanks to provide an alternate air route to Alaska were discussed in Ottawa at the 18-19 February 1943, meeting called to consider the construction program on the Northwest Staging Route. The new route, called the Low-level Route, would originate at Fort Nelson and proceed via Fort Simpson, Wrigley, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope, Fort McPherson, Old Crow, and Fort Yukon to Fairbanks. Advantages of the new route were that it would provide (1) a means of preventing congestion at Whitehorse, where expansion was limited by physical conditions, (2) an alternate route if the existing route was interrupted at Whitehorse or some other point in close proximity to the coast, (3) facilities capable of handling extraordinary transport operations, (4) alternate weather conditions, and (5) a route for carrying out night operations, which were virtually impossible in winter on. the existing route.43

The Permanent Joint Board on Defense considered the proposals a few days later. The Board did not adopt a recommendation on the subject, but the Canadian Section undertook to obtain governmental approval of the project.44 The matter dragged until early April, when Canadian authorities in Washington sought more information on the project. By then it appeared that the Cabinet War Committee, although unenthusiastic, about the project, would probably agree to it. At the same time it became evident on the U.S. side that the Army Air Forces had made no definite plans for carrying out the project but had only intended that preliminary inquiries be made of Canada. After re-examining the need for the Low-level Route, the War Department concluded that the Northwest Staging Route would be able to handle all requirements. In consequence, the U.S. Section withdrew its request in the Permanent Joint Board for approval of the project and asked Canada to postpone indefinitely consideration of it.45 The Canadian Government nevertheless proceeded with a survey of the route with a view to its possible future development.

Traffic Along the Staging Route

From the U.S. point of view, the Northwest Staging Route provided facilities serving three main purposes: (a) the movement of tactical aircraft


to the defense garrisons in Alaska, (b) the delivery of aircraft for the USSR at Fairbanks, whence they continued to the Soviet Union via Siberia, and (c) the administrative and logistical support of the Alaskan garrison and of the U.S. projects in western Canada. The numbers of aircraft delivered over the Northwest Staging Route in the first two categories were as follows:46

Year Total For USSR For AAF
Total 8,646 7,930 716
1942 311 148 163
1943 2,776 2,491 285
1944 3,276 3,148 128
1945 2,283 2,143 140

The great bulk of these aircraft were fighter and other short-range types that could not have been delivered to Alaska by air in the absence of the staging airfields.

As is readily apparent from these figures, the movement of aircraft over the route for ferrying to the USSR represented a much greater operation than the movement of aircraft to the Alaskan defense garrison. The ferrying arrangement had first been discussed on 4 August 1941, when Secretary of War Stimson and Soviet Ambassador Constantine Oumansky agreed in principle on the plan. The Russians were not enthusiastic about use of the Siberia route, and it was not until March 1942 that a detailed plan was presented. In April President Roosevelt in a personal message urged Premier Stalin to accept the plan, which he did in July. Under it the Ferrying Division of the Air Transport Command delivered the aircraft to a Soviet detachment at Ladd Field, Fairbanks, Alaska. There Russian pilots tested and accepted the aircraft and then staged them through Nome into Siberia. The first aircraft were delivered to Soviet representatives in Fairbanks on 4 September. Pilots to fly the aircraft away did not arrive until 24 September. Once the program was fully organized, aircraft deliveries took place in steadily increasing numbers.47

United States air transport operations to Alaska were largely carried out by the Alaskan Wing of the Air Transport Command, although the Naval Air Transport Service also operated over the route. From mid-1943 on, from thirty-five to forty aircraft were assigned to the Alaskan Wing for these


operations, most of them commercial aircraft operating under contract. The air transport accomplishments of the Alaskan Wing are indicated in the following table:48

Year Ton-miles Passenger-miles
1942 (July-December) 6,145,000 13,176,000
1943 19,674,000 86,850,000
1944 30,801,000 153,905,000
1945 (January-September) 23,006,000 116,337,000

The number of total arrivals at the main airfields, including Edmonton, perhaps gives a better layman's appreciation of the scale of activity along the route:49

Week       Total AAF RCAF Civilian
14-20 August 1943   2,505 782 1,497 226
12-18 August 1944   1,381 990 230 161
11-17 August 1945   867 539 214 114

The Alaska Highway

Of the logistical projects undertaken by the United States in Canada during World War II, two stand out far above the others in magnitude, the complexity of the problems met, and the size of the construction organizations assembled to execute them. These projects were the construction of the Alaska Highway and the related Canol Project.50 United States governmental agencies had several times since 1930 examined proposals for a highway between the United States and Alaska. Before Pearl Harbor the War Department in commenting on such proposals could find little or no immediate military utility in such a highway. When the proposals of the joint Alaskan International Highway Commission for a highway between British Columbia and Alaska were discussed by the Permanent Joint Board on Defense on 15 November 1940, the Board unanimously agreed that the military value of a road following either of the two routes then proposed would be negligible. The Board, it may be noted, did not rule on the merits of a road to Alaska but only on the two proposed routes, which lay west of the Rocky Mountain Range. At the same meeting the Board did adopt its Tenth Recommendation, calling for the construction of the air staging


facilities between the United States and Alaska, and this action held real significance for the future routing of the Alaska Highway.51

During 1941 general interest in a highway to Alaska grew. In January 1941 Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, famous Arctic authority, recommended to the War Department the construction of a highway to Alaska via the Mackenzie and Yukon River valleys.52 Officials of Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, and the several U.S. adjacent border states urged routes favoring their own geographic interest.53 In April 1941 Secretary of State Hull sought the support of Prime Minister King for a highway. King "was not entirely favorable in holding out hope for immediate co-operation," since the Permanent Joint Board had believed the construction of facilities on the air route to Alaska to be more important. In July Mayor LaGuardia, U.S. chairman of the Permanent Joint Board, joined the proponents of a highway, and by October the War Department had declared itself in favor of a highway "as a long-range defense measure."54

The Pearl Harbor attack and the subsequent Japanese menace to west coast shipping radically altered the picture. Members of the President's Cabinet at a meeting on 16 January 1942 discussed the possibility that sea communications to Alaska would be interrupted and the desirability of constructing a highway through Canada. The President appointed a committee, comprising the Secretaries of War, the Navy, and the Interior, to study the need for a highway. While this study went forward, Roosevelt took up with General Marshall and Admiral King possible enemy intentions toward Alaska and the state of the defenses there, which the President considered unsatisfactory. Marshall and King anticipated a Japanese raid on Alaska and were troubled by the difficulty of providing air reinforcements.55 Although Admiral King admitted the vulnerability of the coastal shipping route, he would not agree that it was necessary to construct a highway to Alaska on the basis that the U.S. Navy could not adequately protect coastal shipping, nor would he categorically commit the Navy to insuring uninterrupted sea communications to Alaska under all circumstances. The Army considered Admiral King's position equivocal and unsatisfactory.


On 2 February the Cabinet committee met with War Department officials and concluded that a highway was needed and that it should follow the line of airports of the air staging route to Alaska. From the military point of view, this alignment had the merits of providing a land route to Alaska, a means of supplying the air bases on the Northwest Staging Route, and a ground guide for pilots flying aircraft over this route. The Army Chief of Staff endorsed the plan, and on 11 February the President approved it, allocating an initial $10 million from his emergency fund and directing that arrangements be made with Canada through the Permanent Joint Board on Defense.56

Arrangements with Canada were initiated the next day without awaiting a Board meeting. Minister Moffat in Ottawa, who had warned the Canadians of the impending decision a week earlier, was instructed by the State Department on 12 February to request authority for the dispatch of U.S. survey detachments and for construction of the road. The next day Canada readily granted permission for the "proposed survey," and Moffat reported that Canadian approval of a survey included authority for construction of a pioneer road such as would be needed in connection with the survey.57 On the basis of the partial approval received, and in anticipation of approval of the entire project, the War Department on 14 February ordered the Chief of Engineers to undertake construction of a pioneer road from Fort St. John to Boundary, Alaska.

The Permanent Joint Board at its 25-26 February 1942 meeting considered the U.S. proposal for the construction of the Alaska Highway.58 Some of the Canadian members were not entirely satisfied that the project was of sufficient value to justify the diversion of resources needed elsewhere, particularly since by 1 January 1944, the estimated date of completion, they assumed that U.S. sea and air communications to Alaska would be secure. Canadian Department of Mines and Resources officials were even skeptical of the feasibility of constructing a road along the line of airports because of the muskeg areas and winter survey difficulties that would be encountered. Nevertheless, "for reasons of general policy," the Canadian Section supported the Twenty-fourth Recommendation proposed by the U.S. Section.59 The


U.S. ARMY ENGINEERS CONSTRUCTING A PIONEER ROAD to Alaska through virgin forests, May 1942.

U.S. Section informed the Board that the United States was willing to assume the responsibility for and the whole cost of constructing and maintaining the highway. In undertaking to meet the cost of constructing the road, the U.S. Section told the Board, the U.S. Government acknowledged the financial burdens Canada had borne since it entered the war in September 1939, especially in connection with the construction on the Northwest Staging Route. The Board then, as its Twenty-fourth Recommendation, proposed that, "as a matter pertaining to the joint defense of Canada and the United States," a highway be constructed along the line of staging route airports and connecting with the existing road systems in Alaska and Canada.60

The two governments were not long in approving the Twenty-fourth Recommendation. The Canadian Government approved it on 5 March, and the next day, 6 March, Prime Minister King informed Parliament of the


project. President Roosevelt on 9 March formally approved the recommendation covering the project to which he had given informal approval several weeks earlier.61

In the diplomatic notes exchanged by Canada and the United States on 17 and 18 March 1942 detailing the terms of the agreement, the United States undertook to (1) make the necessary surveys, (2) construct a pioneer road using Engineer troops, (3) arrange for the completion of the highway under civilian contractors, (4) maintain the highway until six months after the termination of the war, and (5) release the highway at that time to become an integral part of the Canadian highway system. On its part, Canada agreed to (1) provide the right of way, (2) waive import duties, taxes, and charges on shipments through Canada and on all equipment and materials to be used in construction and maintenance of the highway, (3) remit income tax of U.S. residents employed on the project, (4) facilitate entry of construction personnel, and (5) permit use of local timber, gravel, and rock for the project.62

Only one U.S. proposal occasioned discussion. Canada would not agree to guarantee postwar use of the highway to U.S. military vehicles under conditions to be recommended by the Board. It offered, as an alternative, to "give due consideration" to any recommendation which the Board might make along these lines. The point was simply omitted from the agreement.

Several other points were agreed on or clarified at a later time. In an exchange of notes between Canada and the United States on 4 and 9 May 1942, the Canadian Government agreed that it had been the intent of the Board that the southern terminus of the highway be Dawson Creek, despite the fact that Fort St. John was the southernmost point mentioned in the Twenty-fourth Recommendation. Nearly a year later notes exchanged on 10 April 1943 authorized U.S. use of the highways between Fort St. John and the U.S. border as being in keeping with the language and intent of the original agreement. Finally, at the suggestion of Mr. Anthony Dimond, Alaskan delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, the highway was officially named the Alaska Highway on 19 July 1943.63


Construction on the pioneer road began about a week after President Roosevelt formally approved the Alaska Highway project and after the arrival of the initial contingent of troops at the Dawson Creek railhead on 16 March 1942. The force of Engineer troops was soon built up to seven regiments, reinforced by ponton, survey, and other units, totaling 394 officers and 10,765 enlisted men.64 On 25 October 1942 the pioneer road was completed, and its 1,523 miles between Dawson Creek and Fairbanks were passable and in use for supply purposes. During succeeding months the pioneer road was developed into a well-graded and well-drained two-lane road 26 feet wide. In the latter half of 1942 the Engineer troops were reinforced by a construction organization (totaling approximately 7,500) under the U.S. Public Roads Administration, which, through arrangements worked out with the Chief of Engineers, undertook to assist in the pioneer road construction and to develop the pioneer road into the final-type highway. The construction of the final-type road by seventy-seven contractors and four management contractors under the Public Roads Administration continued through most of 1943. The work involved a civilian force totaling as high as 15,950 using as many as 11,100 pieces of road-building equipment. By 1 November 1943 construction on the Alaska Highway was 96 percent complete, and, except for certain bridge construction, the remaining work and the maintenance of the highway was taken over by the Army Engineers.

The completed highway between Dawson Creek and Big Delta, Alaska, was a permanent, all-weather road, 1,428 miles long and 26 feet wide, except for the southernmost 75 miles which was 36 feet wide. The link with Fairbanks was provided from Big Delta by the Richardson Highway, which ran from Valdez to Fairbanks. Construction involved 133 bridges 20 feet or more in length. About half the footage was steel bridging. The 2,130-foot suspension bridge over the Peace River was the major structure, and a 2,300foot, one-lane, pile-trestle bridge over the Nisutlin River was the longest.

The finished highway permitted speeds in safety from 40 to 50 miles an hour and had an estimated normal capacity of 400,000 tons annually, which might be increased to a maximum of 720,000 ton's for emergency military purposes. For use as part of a through-road system between the United States and Alaska, the highway capacity was limited by the fact that the road facilities south from Dawson Creek were poor-quality highways, unusable at certain seasons of the year. This limitation could of course be circumvented by use of railroad shipments to Dawson Creek.


SIKANNI CHIEF RIVER BRIDGE, one of the first bridges to be completed on the Alaska Highway. Photograph taken in 1943.

The construction of the Alaska Highway was a tremendous engineering achievement and a tribute to U.S. and Canadian co-operation. Few projects could match the complexity and enormity of the task of putting the highway through virgin forests within established time schedules and in the face of transportation handicaps, muskeg and ice, and thaw, washouts, landslides, freezing temperatures, and other weather handicaps. The cost of the construction work performed on the highway proper was almost $116 million, exclusive of the costs of wartime maintenance, of many auxiliary installations, and of the final job inventory of materials, supplies, and equipment. These two additional categories totaled about $23.5 million. In addition, it has been conservatively estimated that the cost of the Engineer troop labor involved, not included in the above figures, was $8 million.65

With the completion of highway construction and the replacement of the initial temporary timber bridges by permanent structures, the required maintenance was easily carried out and was facilitated by the excellent design and construction standards. A steady flow of supplies continued over the highway both in support of the construction operations and of the numerous other U.S. and Canadian activities in northwest Canada. In late 1943 a U.S. Army


fleet of over 1,500 trucks (ranging from 2½--to 10-ton capacity) and 27 crosscountry-type passenger buses was operating on the highway, and during 1943 moved 134,000 tons of cargo and 42,000 passengers. Hauling for U.S. activities alone totaled over 36,700,000 ton-miles in 1943, and over 30,900,000 in 1944. These figures decreased in 1945 with the closing out of construction activities and the operation of the pipeline along the highway for supply of gasoline to the air bases and other facilities.66 As early as the spring of 1943 the flow of civilan traffic over the highway had become so heavy that a Joint Travel Control Board was established at Edmonton. The board included representatives of the U.S. Northwest Service Command and of the Canadian Special Commissioner for Defense Projects in Northwestern Canada, who met to deal with applications for civilian travel.67

In September 1944, with U.S. need for use of the highway diminishing, the United States suggested in the Permanent Joint Board on Defense the transfer of administration and maintenance responsibility to Canada and indicated its willingness, pursuant to the original agreement, to share the cost of the maintenance operations. The Canadian Section pointed out "certain difficulties which would confront the Canadian Government in accepting this proposal," and, after study and further report, the Board agreed to defer a recommendation on the subject. In notifying the War Department of the action of the Board, the Senior U.S. Army Member thereof stated that the position of the Canadian Section was in line with the previously known attitude of the Canadian Government, which did not desire to assume maintenance responsibility for the Canadian portion of the highway, either with or without U.S. financial assistance.68

Upon the termination of hostilities, the United States again sought to transfer the responsibilities to Canada. Canada agreed to assume the responsibility for maintenance and operation of the Canadian portion of the Alaska Highway on 1 April 1946. On that date transfer was effected with appropriate ceremony at Whitehorse, amid general agreement that the highway would be an important factor in the further exploitation of the potential of northwestern Canada.69


The need for road and rail facilities over which to bring freight for the construction of the Alaska Highway involved the U.S. and Canadian Governments in additional negotiations. Freight for the highway was delivered at three points--Dawson Creek, Whitehorse, and Fairbanks. The railhead at and the connecting highway net to Dawson Creek have already been mentioned. For the Alaskan portion of the highway, freight was delivered to Fairbanks principally by the Alaska Railroad after water shipment to either Seward or Whittier. Some freight was transported over the Richardson Highway, which connected the port of Valdez with Fairbanks and also linked the Alaska Highway terminus at Big Delta with Fairbanks. The Glenn Highway, between the Richardson Highway and Anchorage, also linked Anchorage to the Alaska Highway. Another avenue to the northern portion of the Alaska Highway was provided by the Tok cutoff connecting the Alaska and Richardson Highways.

A vital link to the center section of the Alaska Highway was the White Pass and Yukon Route railway, connecting Skagway and Whitehorse and having its origins in 1901 in the Klondike gold rush. Over that railway had passed the supplies for the air base at Whitehorse long before the Alaska Highway was planned. As construction of the Alaska Highway began, the use of this railroad permitted the movement of troops and supplies to a middle point on the proposed highway, from which point construction could advance in two directions. Still later, large rail shipments were to be made to Whitehorse in connection with the Canol Project.70

In the fall of 1942 the U.S. need for use of this narrow-gauge (36-inch) railroad made it desirable for the U.S. Army to take over its operation. Of the three segments making up the White Pass and Yukon Route, the two in Canada were owned by companies incorporated in Canada. Arrangements for U.S. lease of these two segments for the duration of the war were worked out in a meeting in Ottawa on 16 October 1942. On the basis of these arrangements, the Canadian Government issued an order-in-council establishing the legal foundation for U.S. lease and operation of privately owned Canadian common carriers. An exchange of notes at Ottawa in February 1943 formalized the agreement.71

Operation of the White Pass and Yukon Route railway had been taken over by the U.S. Army Military Railway Service by 19 October 1942.


TRAIN PLOWING THROUGH DEEP SNOW on the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad
TRAIN PLOWING THROUGH DEEP SNOW on the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad.

During the ensuing months, the railway battalion assigned to the task completely reconstructed 20 miles of the 111-mile railway, added much new equipment, and rehabilitated the property as a whole. During 1943 the narrow-gauge railway carried up to 40,000 tons of freight per month.72

Although the White Pass and Yukon Route offered an excellent means of transportation to Whitehorse, U.S. Army Engineers had examined the need for an alternate transportation route as early as April 1942. At the meeting of the Permanent Joint Board that month, the U.S. Section requested authorization for construction of a highway between Haines, on the Lynn Canal near Skagway, and a point on the Alaska Highway between Kluane and Champagne. The Canadian Section of the Board replied that the Canadian Government would have no objection to a survey but suggested that the question of actual authorization be deferred to a later date. After several months had elapsed, the War Department on 14 October 1942 asked for


immediate approval for a survey, and it was granted. Less than a month later the United States requested Canadian approval for construction of the Haines-Champagne cutoff, and the Cabinet War Committee granted it on 18 October. The exchange of notes formalizing the agreement provided that the new section would be considered an integral part of the Alaska Highway and would be constructed under the same arrangements that had been agreed upon for the highway.73

Construction was carried forward the same winter by the Public Roads Administration and, beginning in March 1943, by civilian contractor to the U.S. Engineer District. In November 1943 the 159-mile cutoff was completed, but to standards below those of the Alaska Highway proper. Responsibility for the part in Canada passed to Canada on 1 April 1946 along with that for the rest of the Alaska Highway. As in the case of the Alaska Highway, Canada was under no obligation to continue to maintain the Haines cutoff.

Apart from the road construction undertaken in connection with the Canol Project, the road system described was the extent of the highway construction completed in northwestern Canada during World War II. Other highways were proposed but did not materialize. A link between Prince George and Fort St. John was suggested by the Canadian Section of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense at the 7-8 April 1942 meeting, which followed the one at which the Alaska Highway was recommended. After examining a study on this highway link submitted by the Canadian Section, the U.S. Section at the next Board meeting on 27 April reported its view that such a road would have so slight a military value that a sufficiently high construction priority would not be warranted. One other proposal never got past the preliminary survey stage. In December 1942 the United States sought and received authority to undertake a survey for a road from the Mackenzie River near Aklavik to the Yukon River. The road, which never materialized, would have followed the route Peel River-Rat River-Macdougall Pass-Dell River-Porcupine River.74

The War Department also examined the feasibility and desirability of constructing a rail route to Alaska. A survey for a route between Prince George and Fairbanks was authorized by Canada in April 1942 and undertaken during the summer. The route surveyed in general followed one of the two that had been proposed by the Alaskan International Highway Commission for a highway. On the basis of the survey the War Department


concluded that a railroad adequate for military purposes could be constructed for $112 million. Although informal discussions between the countries took place in September and October 1942, the War Department in December announced that a military necessity for the railroad did not exist at that time and filed the survey "for possible future wartime use."75

The Canol Project

The Canol (from " Canada" and "oil") Project, if not the most spectacular wartime military undertaking in Canada, was surely the most debated and controversial enterprise. The oil was to come from the Mackenzie River field at Norman Wells, where the first oil-producing well had been drilled in 1920. Oil seepages in that vicinity had been reported by Alexander Mackenzie over a hundred years earlier. At the time of the establishment of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense in August 1940, four of seven wells drilled in the general area were producing, and a small refinery was meeting the petroleum products needs of the lower Mackenzie valley.76

With Pearl Harbor only a few weeks past, the War Department in January 1942 undertook its initial investigations of the feasibility of using the oil resources at Norman Wells to meet military requirements in Alaska and northwest Canada. At a Cabinet meeting on 16 January 1942, the President indicated to the Secretaries of War and the Navy his concern over the vulnerability of the sea routes to Alaska as well as the critical tanker situation facing the Allies. In the War Department intermittent discussion of the Canol Project took place in the early months of 1942, while tanker losses mounted, the Dutch East Indies oil fields were lost, and Caribbean facilities were shelled by German submarines. On 29 April 1942 War Department representatives outlined the project to officials of the Imperial Oil Company, Limited, of Canada, which owned and operated the oil fields. Action followed quickly. The same day James H. Graham, a technical adviser to Lt. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, Commanding General, Services of Supply, recommended and received approval for the project. The next day, 30 April, General Somervell directed the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, to carry out the project, which at this stage called for the drilling of nine additional wells, the erection by 1 October 1942 of a refinery with a 3,000-barrel daily refining capacity at


Whitehorse, and the construction by 15 September 1942 of a 4-inch pipeline between Norman Wells and the refinery. On the following day, 1 May, a contract was let to the I mperial Oil Company for the drilling and operating of the additional wells.77

The decision immediately evoked expressions of doubt and criticism. Officers within the War Department and elsewhere in the U.S. Government questioned the soundness of the project as a whole or of parts thereof. Representatives of the Standard Oil Company of California, which the War Department had hired as a consultant on the project, and of the Imperial Oil Company commented unfavorably on the project. The Department of State, in forwarding instructions to the legation in Ottawa, pointedly noted that it had made no examination of the merits of the Canol Project.78

Despite the contemporary expressions of doubt, the U.S. decision to undertake the project stood. The United States presented its request for Canadian approval of the project to the Canadian Government informally on 1 May and formally on 8 May. Prodded for a reply on 15 May at the instance of the U.S. Army Engineers who were anxious to utilize the full summer construction season, Canadian officials informally indicated that they were not declining assistance but had serious doubts about the soundness of the proposition. They suggested that the United States give the project additional consideration. The War Department on 18 May reaffirmed its request to the Department of State and indicated that the reconsideration of the Canol Project at Canada's suggestion had confirmed the decision to undertake it, and that the risk involved was justified in terms of the critical situation. The State Department immediately informed Canada of the War Department position, and the same day the Canadian Government signified its approval, which had actually been granted by the Cabinet War Committee on 16 May 1942.79

Discussion of the formal diplomatic arrangements followed, and the


agreement was effected in an exchange of notes signed in Ottawa on 27 and 29 June 1942. Under the agreement, by which Canada was to provide assistance similar to that for the Alaska Highway, the facilities were to be built by the United States, remain its property during the war, and be disposed of subsequently under an agreed procedure.80

Even before the agreement was finalized, the War Department had come forward requesting approval of a supplemental project. This project, suggested by Harold L. Ickes, who as U.S. Petroleum Co-ordinator for War had objected to the original project and had sponsored the new one as an alternative, called for construction of 4-inch pipeline with a 5,000-barrel daily capacity between Skagway and Whitehorse along the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad and of storage and loading facilities at Prince Rupert. The supplemental project, which could be completed in a shorter time, would permit transportation of gasoline to Whitehorse from the United States via the relatively protected and shorter tanker haul along the inside passage from Prince Rupert to Skagway. Canadian approval was given informally in one day, 27 June, and later formalized in an exchange of notes dated 14 and 15 August 1942.81 The provisions of the earlier agreement were applied to the new one.

Other associated projects were planned and undertaken with the result that the original project became known as Canol 1 and the supplementary project as Canol 2. Canol 3 provided for a 2-inch gasoline pipeline between. Carcross, a point on the Canol 2 pipeline, and Watson Lake, with associated storage and other facilities. This line would permit deliveries from Skagway or Whitehorse to installations southward as far as Watson Lake. Canol 4 called for a 3-inch gasoline pipeline from Whitehorse to Fairbanks and related facilities.82 Canol 5, a gasoline pipeline extension from Fairbanks to Tanana, Alaska, was to be wholly a U.S. project, but it was later abandoned.

None of the proposals in connection with the several Canol programs was processed through the Permanent Joint Board. However, the agreements for Canol 1 and 2 provided that if, at time of disposition of the facilities, there was no purchaser, the problem would be referred to the Board for recommendation. This provision resulted from a War Department suggestion


designed to insure against dismantling where such action would be contrary to foreseeable future war needs.83

Major logistical tasks faced the U.S. Army even before work at Norman Wells could begin. On 4 June 1942 the vanguard of Task Force 2600 began arriving at Waterways, Alberta, the northernmost railhead in the area, to establish the transportation system to Norman Wells over which could move the civilian construction organization and supplies needed for construction of the pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse. The 1,171-mile route, open only from May to October, involved a 285-mile passage down the Athabasca and Slave Rivers, a 16-mile portage at Fort Fitzgerald, and additional passages of 195, 125, and 550 miles on the Slave River, Great Slave Lake, and Mackenzie River, respectively. By the end of June 1942 a force of over 2,000 troops was constructing the wharfage, warehousing, housing, and other facilities needed at the various terminal and storage points. Available river boats were purchased or hired, others were brought in, and large numbers of prefabricated barges were assembled on the rivers.

By the summer of 1943 more than 39,000, tons of supplies had been moved over this water route. The greater part of the freight moved was delivered by the marine transportation facilities of the Hudson's Bay Company, which carried 50 percent of the tonnage between Waterways and Fort Fitzgerald and 60 percent between Fort Smith and Norman Wells. After mid-1943 an increasing portion of these accomplishments was the result of augmentation of the force operating the route by the civilian organization, Marine Operators, at Edmonton. Pursuant to a contract arranged in February 1943, Marine Operators made extensive preparations for the task, which it took over during the summer of 1943. Task Force 2600 was then withdrawn. By the close of the river navigation season in early October, virtually all the supplies that had been assembled for movement to Norman Wells had reached that destination.84

With the waterways frozen during the winter months, alternate routes were sought to permit movement of supplies. Although a network of air bases was constructed which permitted movement of men and supplies by air, the principal means of winter transportation were tractor roads built over the frozen ground, rivers, and lakes.85 The U.S. Army built such a route during the winter of 1942-43 from the railhead at Peace River to Norman Wells via Hay River and Fort Providence. The 1,000-mile route, sometimes


referred to as Canol 6, was constructed between 23 October 1942 and 25 February 1943. A shift of the base of operations from the railhead at Waterways to that at Peace River was made because the winter road from the Peace River railhead could to a large extent utilize existing wagon roads and trails as far as Hay River. A route from Fort Smith joined the first at Hay River. A third, from Fort Nelson on the Alaska Highway, joined the first near Fort Simpson. The winter road operation was not successful. An estimated $7.5 million was expended on construction and operation. Of 18,222 tons of supplies that left the Peace River railhead, only 5,293 tons were delivered to Norman Wells. Consumed in the operation were 3,567 tons, while the balance was left along the route, to be delivered by water after the waterway was open. The winter roads were not used after the winter of 1942-43.86

The construction of the several pipelines and the erection of the refinery, which were well under way in early 1943, were accomplished by civilian contractor organizations, both Canadian and U.S. The largest of these was Bechtel-Price-Callahan of San Francisco. The Skagway-Whitehorse pipeline, Canol 2, had gone into operation in late 1942. Gasoline reached Watson Lake via Canol 3 on 24 July 1943 and Fairbanks via Canol 4 on 23 February 1944. The crude-oil line from Norman Wells was completed on 16 February 1944, and the first oil was delivered through it on 16 April. Two weeks later, on 30 April 1944, the formal dedication of the refinery at Whitehorse took place and refinery operations began. The construction of the 595-mile pipeline and service road, which at two points reached elevations exceeding 5,000 feet, over the uncharted Mackenzie Range between Norman Wells and Whitehorse was the most difficult of the pipeline tasks, and its execution was a significant step in taming the northwest Canadian wilderness.

At the end of 1942 the War Department in the hope of making available new supplies of oil had decided that additional exploratory well drilling in northwest Canada was desirable. In an exchange of notes dated 28 December 1942 and 13 January 1943, Canada acceded to a U.S. request for a wildcatting program in which exploratory wells would be drilled to seek sources capable of producing from 15,000 to 20,000 barrels of oil daily. Canada authorized the program in the area specified, which included all of the Yukon Territory and that portion of the District of Mackenzie on the mainland and west of the 112° meridian.87

Under the initial Canol 1 agreement, producing wells drilled at U.S. expense on land held under prior lease by the Imperial Oil Company became


the property of that company, which was also to be reimbursed an agreed price for oil delivered to the United States from those wells and from wells already producing at the time the agreement was made.88 Under the wildcatting program the United States assumed all the costs of the exploratory work, which was carried forward by Imperial Oil Company and by a U.S. company, Noble Drilling Corporation. All the exploratory drilling took place on land for which permits were issued by the Canadian Government to Imperial Oil. Under new regulations issued by the Canadian Government, one-half of any location upon which oil was discovered, together with the wells or other improvements thereon, would remain or become property of the Canadian Government. Imperial Oil Company, as the permittee, became owner of the remaining half of the improvements on crown property, and the two would share equally from the proceeds of oil produced under the new regulations.89 This arrangement was also applicable to the drilling done under Canol 1 in the Norman Wells area but on ground for which additional permits were needed by and issued to Imperial Oil.90

As a result of the exploratory work, new producing wells with a daily output of 3,900 barrels were drilled, and as many as 4,000 barrels of crude oil per day, even in the coldest month of the year, moved through the pipeline to the Whitehorse refinery. The Canadian Government estimated that this proven field contained from thirty to sixty million barrels of oil; U.S. authorities estimated that the oil resources discovered at U.S. expense totaled from sixty to one hundred million barrels, although they admitted that not all of this oil might be obtainable since part of the oil-bearing structure lay under the Mackenzie River. Approximately one-third of the proven field was covered by the old Imperial Oil leases, while the remainder was covered by the new regulations, which gave the crown a one-half interest.91

In September 1943 the U.S. Senate Special Committee Investigating the National Defense Program (then commonly referred to as the Truman Committee, after its chairman) began an extensive investigation of the Canol Project. On 26 October the hearings delved into the arrangements effected by the United States with Canada and with the Imperial Oil Company. The committee report, released on 8 January 1944, severely criticized the initial


decision by the War Department to develop the Canol Project. It also criticized subsequent decisions, some made as late as October 1943, to carry the project to completion despite the changing circumstances of the war and the contrary recommendations of the U.S. Petroleum Administrator for War and others, who considered the project to be unsound and excessively costly. The report concluded that the contracts and agreements were unfair and unreasonable, since the question of postwar rights and other U.S. interests had not been properly safeguarded, despite the expenditure of $134 million for the entire project. This failure to safeguard U.S. interests the committee too attributed to improvidence on the part of the War Department, which had prepared the documents. The report also noted that Canada had accepted the U.S. proposal without modification or reservation and that there was no indication that it would not have been possible to obtain a more equitable arrangement from Canada.92

Soon after the Truman Committee began to inquire into the Canol contracts and agreements, the War Department, with the cognizance of the committee, initiated action to revise them. As a result of War Department representations to the Department of State a few days earlier, the U.S. Ambassador in Ottawa on 23 November 1943 broached the subject of the renegotiation of the contracts and agreements and arranged a meeting with the Canadians on 2 December. The meeting found Canadians amenable to the idea of making minor adjustments but opposed to any revisions premised on a major oil discovery.93

At a second meeting, on 31 January 1944, specific alternate U.S. proposals were discussed. Since the relationship between the Canadian Government and Imperial Oil Company established by an order-in-council had a direct bearing on any changes in the arrangement, it was necessary that this relationship also be amended. The three-way discussions continued at some length, and the arrangements finally worked out were announced publicly on 5 May 1944, five days after the refinery at Whitehorse began operations.

During the period between 1 December 1943 and 30 April 1944, while renegotiation discussions were in progress, the War Department expended $17 million of the $99 million that was the cost of that part of the Canol Project involved in producing and refining oil in Canada. Vigorous War Department action in pushing the project to completion and the protracted


discussions made it impossible to carry out the Truman Committee recommendation that this project not be completed unless new and equitable arrangements could be worked out with Canada and the Imperial Oil Company.94

The Canadian Minister of Mines and Resources explained the arrangements to the House. of Commons on 5 May 1944 when he announced the order-incouncil, dated 27 April, that established the new relationship between the Canadian Government and the Imperial Oil Company. The new arrangements gave the United States an option to purchase for its own use, at cost plus twenty cents per barrel, an amount up to one-half of the oil recovered in the proven area, not exceeding thirty million barrels.95

The agreement formalizing the new arrangements was signed by the two governments on 7 June 1944. As a result of the agreement, the United States gave up all its rights to explore for oil in Canada. The agreement also met the Truman Committee criticism about safeguarding of U.S. interests by providing for (1) application of the disposition arrangements for the SkagwayWhitehorse pipeline to the distribution lines to Watson Lake and Fairbanks, and (2) extension to the postwar lessees or owners of the installations of the rights of way and other rights necessary for their satisfactory utilization.96

When it went into operation, the Canol refinery was able to process 3,000 barrels of crude oil per day and produce from this crude 479 barrels of aviation gasoline, 1,018 barrels of motor gasoline, and 525 barrels of fuel oil. This output reflected changes made in the plans to accord with the "anticipated peacetime demand in the territory to be served by it" and still to allow the facilities to "make an important contribution to the wartime demand in the North Pacific region."97

The oil-producing and-refining facilities of the Canol Project had not long to operate, for less than a year later, before V-E and V-J Days had arrived, the War Department on 8 March 1945 announced discontinuance of operations as of 30 June. The War Department cited as reasons for its action the improved tanker situation and the improved military situation in Alaska. The system of distribution lines for delivery of petroleum products from the port at Skagway to points between Fairbanks and Watson Lake was not affected and continued to supply that area with petroleum products until after the war ended.98


Communications and Weather

A major problem for both Canada and the United States in northwest Canada was posed by the extremely limited scale of communications facilities in a region whose size and attendant physical phenomena, such as the aurora borealis, made communications particularly difficult. The need for adequate meteorological data for safe air operations also presented a problem.

As the U.S. troop units and detachments and the civilian elements involved in the construction projects deployed throughout northwestern Canada, the task of maintaining communications for command and administrative purposes was a formidable one. During the initial months of work on the Alaska Highway and Canol projects, the three commands involved (two for the highway, Northern and Southern Sectors) operated independent radio nets. The three networks were also independent of the Canadian facilities serving the airfields of the Northwest Staging Route and other principal locations, except for a brief initial period during which the commanders of both the Northern and Southern Sectors of the highway were linked to Edmonton only by the Department of Transport radio system or by the telegraph line to Edmonton.99

Upon the establishment of the Northwest Service Command on 10 September 1942, the need for integrating these three networks and adapting them to new requirements arose. The backbone of the system developed was the telephone and telegraph land line parallel to the Alaska Highway. The construction of this line was considered by the United States to be part of the over-all Alaska Highway project, but it also received specific authorization by the Canadian Government.100

Although perhaps dwarfed by other projects under way in that area, the construction of the telephone system was itself no small field engineering feat. Work was begun by the U.S. Army Chief Signal officer with a civilian organization in the late summer of 1942. In November the 843d Signal Service Battalion joined the construction forces on an emergency basis. Reinforced by crews recruited from Canadian and U.S. telephone companies, this battalion by 1 December 1942 had completed the 442-mile line between Edmonton and Dawson Creek, following the highway right of way. Canadian and U.S. contractors continued construction into 1943, and by 1 May they had opened another 900 miles, to Whitehorse; on 14 October the full


line between Edmonton and Fairbanks was open. An additional 102-mile. line linked Skagway to the system, while 830 more miles was needed to tie in the various air bases, flight strips, and other installations. The line, with a capacity of six voice and thirteen teletype circuits, required the setting of 95,000 poles, the stretching of over 14,000 miles of wire, and the establishing of twenty-three booster stations at from 70-to 100-mile intervals.

With radio communications frequently blacked out, the wire network provided an essential complementary communications link for the many installations in the area. Through its use Fairbanks could be linked directly with Washington, D. C. The system was connected to Helena, Montana, and thence to U.S. commercial networks by Canadian and U.S. commercial circuits leased for military use, and could be linked, through its Edmonton switching center, to Canadian commercial facilities.

Because the wire network was subject to frequent interruption by falling trees, thaws and floods, and fire and winds, radio networks were required not only to link points not served by the line, such as those in the Mackenzie River valley, but also to insure continuous service to points on the line. In June 1943 all U.S. radio nets were consolidated into a single network comprising sixty-five fixed, semifixed, and mobile radio stations that served the Northwest Service Command and the operational and meteorological needs of Air Transport Command operations. Canadian needs for communications continued to be provided independently, through the radio net for the airfields and intermediate fields of the Northwest Staging Route.

Although there was virtually no integration of the communications services by the agencies of the two countries operating in northwest Canada, some such co-ordination was developed in the provision of meteorological services. The Department of Transport had maintained, before the U.S. tenancy on the Northwest Staging Route, a weather system that included hourly observations from each of its radio stations and forecasts every six hours from forecast centers at Edmonton and Whitehorse. The initial U.S. weather services were provided by detachments of Northwest Airlines personnel for the contract transport services that began in March 1942. As the Army Air Forces expanded its air operations along the route in 1942 and 1943, it established its own weather service, which replaced that of the Northwest Airlines and to some extent duplicated that of the Canadian Department of Transport. United States observation stations were established at a number of points along the staging route, only a few of which duplicated Canadian observations. Meetings were held and arrangements worked out for co-ordinating the Canadian and U.S. observation networks so that by and large they supplemented each other. This was also done when Mackenzie


River air operations necessitated the establishment of a reporting system in that area. The Royal Canadian Corps of Signals operated an observing and radio-reporting net of eleven stations, while the AAF operated a net of stations located at the landing strips developed by the United States.

The two countries further collaborated in the collection and dissemination of weather reports. The AAF operated a teletype circuit between Edmonton and Whitehorse to which the Department of Transport stations were linked. Over this circuit were transmitted the reports collected hourly by both Canadian and U.S. stations, in the Mackenzie River valley as well as along the staging route, making all reports available to all agencies.

The U.S. Army saw fit to operate its own forecasting services and established stations at Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, Prince George, and Watson Lake. There undoubtedly was room for economy of operations through better co-ordination of the weather services. However, fundamental differences on the question of airway control and operation made fuller co-ordination infeasible.101

The Prince Rupert Port

Although many of the major logistical projects carried out in the Canadian northwest were fully publicized, one of these, the utilization of Prince Rupert as a U.S. Army subport of embarkation, remained officially secret until after the Japanese surrender. Naturally this secrecy was to some extent circumscribed since the operation of the port involved several thousand people and the movement of nearly a million measurement tons of supplies through the port and over the Canadian National Railways line to it.102

Surveys of the possible utility of the port in the event of a war had been made by the U.S. and Canadian Armies as early as 1937. As the pre-Pearl Harbor build-up of U.S. bases in Alaska and the Pacific increased the pressure on the ports of Seattle and San Francisco, the desirability of using the port was re-examined. After a survey was made in March 1941, Prince Rupert was declared to be a potentially satisfactory port for the supply of all of southeastern Alaska and for partial supply of western Alaska.103

Prince Rupert was desirable for port operations for reasons other than that it would ease the pressures on other west coast ports. The northernmost west coast railhead, the port had rail connections to Vancouver and the west coast industrial areas and through Edmonton to the rest of Canada


and the United States. Since the port is located 500 miles north of Seattle, a round trip to the Anchorage area would involve only 2,000 miles as opposed to about 3,000 miles from Seattle. In a critical shipping situation the same tonnage of vessels could thus carry 50 percent more cargo by using the shorter route.

At the 20 December 1941 meeting of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense the Canadian Section sought information, on behalf of the Minister of Transport and the Canadian National Railways, on U.S. plans for use of the port.104 The successful emergency operation of lightering to, and reshipment from, Prince Rupert of the cargo of a grounded U.S. Army Transport Service vessel on 13 January 1942 sparked additional U.S. interest in the port. By the end of the month both U.S. Army and Navy commanders on the Pacific coast had recommended immediate use of the port.105 The Canadian Government authorized trial shipments, which were handled by the U.S. Army port of embarkation staff at Seattle.

At the 25-26 February 1942 meeting of the Permanent Joint Board, the U.S. Section presented the War Department's request for authority to use the port for supply of Alaska with an estimated daily movement of 2,500 tons and suggested the working out of plans by the local staffs. Canadian willingness to approve the use of the port was indicated at a Board meeting in April.106 The War Department, apparently anticipating Canadian approval on the basis of the earlier discussions, had on 20 February ordered activation of the port as a subport of the Seattle Port of Embarkation. The port officially opened on 5 April 1942.

The Prince Rupert harbor is rated one of the world's best, but the port facilities were to require considerable augmentation. Canada, with U.S. matériel assistance, assumed responsibility for reinforcing the harbor defenses. The United States expanded the Prince Rupert port facilities to provide a capacity of 50,000 cubic tons of freight per month. Facilities constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers included 400,000 square feet of warehousing, 54,000 square feet of office space, and a 1,000-ton-capacity cold storage plant. The existing waterfront wharfage was doubled. A complete temporary housing project, which would provide quarters for the majority of the 3,500 military and civilian personnel employed at the subport, was constructed nearby and included theater, gymnasium, medical, and similar facilities. The construction program lasted over the two years from March 1942 to March 1944.


The Corps of Engineers constructed two other major facilities near Prince Rupert. A personnel staging area, accommodating 2,500 personnel, with its own port and rail facilities, was constructed at Port Edward, some ten miles from Prince Rupert. Through this staging area, beginning in March 1943, passed the bulk of the military and civilian personnel en route to or from the U.S. Army projects and garrisons to the north. The other principal operating facility was at nearby Watson Island, which was used as a backup storage dump for ammunition. Shipment of ammunition from this dump was made to bases throughout the Pacific that were supporting the Pacific war.

When the construction in the Prince Rupert area, which was accomplished by civilian contractors under contract to the U.S. Army Engineers, was first initiated, the question arose whether the United States had secured the necessary authority for it. The U.S. Section of the Permanent Joint Board cited the Board's Twenty-second Recommendation. Canada initially questioned whether that recommendation provided the authority but subsequently agreed that it did.107

As a result of the U.S. Army construction activities, the population of Prince Rupert increased from a pre-Pearl Harbor 4,700 (excluding 2,300 Japanese that were evacuated) to over 11,000. The subport, which came under the direction of the U.S. Army Seattle Port of Embarkation for port operations, was supported by and reported to the Northwest Service Command for personnel, communications, fiscal, medical, construction and maintenance, and similar purposes.108 By the time of the Japanese surrender almost a million tons of freight had passed through Prince Rupert.

After V-E Day the War Department sought ways of supplementing the capacity of the Prince Rupert and other west coast ports to permit increased shipment of supplies to the Pacific. In June 1945 U.S. Army authorities initiated investigations and inquiries concerning the use of Ballantyne Pier in Vancouver as an additional subport. They found that the available labor supply would allow the handling of six ships per month at the pier, but that if additional labor were brought in this number could be increased to twenty. The United States formally sought approval of the project in Ottawa in July and readily obtained it.109 The welcome surrender of Japan prevented fruition of the project.


Table of Contents
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1. H. C. Debates, 21 Mar 44), p. 1701; Lingard and Trotter, Canada in World Affairs, III, 72; Privy Council 3870, 17 May 43. See also Ch. V, above.

2. Conn, Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, Ch. III.

3. The fullest public account of the development of this route is to be found in the historical monograph, History of the Northwest Air Route to Alaska: 1942-1945, which is in the files of the Headquarters, Military Air Transport Service. This official monograph was completed by Maj. Edwin R. Carr and submitted by him to the University of Minnesota as a doctoral dissertation under the title "Great Falls to Nome: The Inland Air Route to Alaska, 1940-1945."

4. H. C. Debates, 29 Feb 44), p. 979. For fuller accounts of the pre-Pearl Harbor develop-ment of the route, see J. A. Wilson, "Northwest Passage by Air", Canadian Geographical Journal, XXVI (March 1943), 107-29, and Lingard and Trotter, Canada in World Affairs, III, 3034, 73-74.

5. Wilson, op. cit., p. 123n.

6. Draft Plans at PDB 133-3,-5, and-7.

7. Appendix B, below.

8. Appendix A, below.

9. "Canada's Northern Airfields", The Canada Year Book, 1945, p. 706. Pages 705-12 of this volume contain a brief account of the wartime development of all of the northern airfields.

10. See Craven and Cate (eds.), Plans and Early Operations, pp. 303-04, 357.

11. A full account of these contract air services and of the lengthy U.S.-Canadian discussions relating thereto will be found in Chapter XI, below.

12. History of the Northwest Air Route to Alaska, 1942-1945, pp. 105-07.

13. H. C. Debates, 25 Feb 41, p. 1016; Carr, Great Falls to Nome: The Inland Air Route to Alaska, 1940-1945, p. 109. The United States had already taken cognizance in the exchange of notes on the Alaska Highway (EAS, 246; CTS, 1942, No. 13) of the contribution to overall continental defense by such Canadian expenditures.

14. Alaskan Division, Historical Record Report, Nov 42-Dec 43 volume, p. 220; The Canada Year Book, 1945, p. 708.

15. Accounts of the emergency operation are to be found in Craven and Cate (eds.), Plans and Early Operations, p. 358; Cleveland, Air Transport at War, pp. 163-66; and Cave, Wings Across the World, pp. 116-19.

16. History of the Northwest Air Route to Alaska: 1942-1945, p. 108; Ltr, to U.S. Military Attache, 9 Jul 42, reproduced in Alaskan Division, Historical Record Report, II, 42.

17. See above, pp. 131-41.

18. Ltr, to Brig Gen Olds, 7 Mar 42, PDB 126.

19. History of the Northwest Air Route to Alaska: 1942-1945, pp. 114-15.

This situation aptly exemplified the disparity between the manpower situations of the two countries. Canada, in its fourth year of war, was already plagued by a tight manpower situation occasioned by the requirements of the armed forces, industry, agriculture, and merchant marine. The United States, which in 1942 could pour the flower of its youth into Canada, was not until 1944 faced with manpower difficulties and even then on a lesser scale. The resultant political climate in Canada was not improved by the unwillingness of the Canadian Government to introduce conscription for fear of a repetition of the unhappy experience in World War I, when violent opposition arose in French-Canadian Quebec and elsewhere.

20. Memo, for CG SOS, 29 Jul 42, Exhibit 4 in Appendix E, House Committee on Roads, 79th Congress, 2d Session, House Report 1705, on House Resolution 255, The Alaska Highway, p. 98.

21. EAS, 381; CTS, 1942, No. 26; House Report 1705, 79th Congress, 2d Session, p. 100.

22. Ltr, CG AAF to SUSAM, 7 Jan 43, and Ltr, CG ATC to SUSAM, 5 Feb 43, both in PDB 105-13.

23. Memo/Conv, Hickerson and Clark, 13 Feb 43, PDB 105-13. 456178 O-59--15

24. Minutes of meetings and joint recommendation, 20 Feb 43, by the senior conferees to the PJBD, PDB 105-13.

25. Appendix A, below.

26. Minutes of meeting, PDB 105-13.

27. Minutes of meeting, PDB 111-12.

28. Ltr, Keenleyside to Clark, 3 Jun 43, PDB 105-13.

29. Ltrs, Clark to Hickerson, and Keenleyside to Clark, 22 Jun 43; both in PDB 105-13.

30. Ibid.; Ltr, Keenleyside to Clark, 26 Jun 43, PDB 105-13.

31. Memo, Robins for Hickerson, 26 Jun 43, D/S 811.24542/5f-1/2.

32. Ltr, Clark to Hickerson, 22 Jun 43, PDB 105-13. For a discussion of criticism in Canada of the government's failure to undertake even greater construction responsibilities than it had, see Lingard and Trotter, Canada in World Affairs, III, 72.

33. Privy Council 6998, 7 Sep 43. The U.S. officials were able to report in March 1944 that the arrangements were acceptable. (D/S Desp 241, to Ott, 10 Mar 44, D/S 811.24542/76; Privy Council 3869, 23 May 44.) The mechanics of transfer of existing leaseholds and of acquisition of new ones were worked out with U.S. Army representatives at a meeting in Ottawa on 20 October 1944. The conclusions of the meeting, which provided that Canada would assume the payment of rentals dating from 7 September 1943, were formalized in an exchange of notes on 28 and 30 December 1944. (CTS, 1944, No. 34.) Apparently the notes were not published by the Department of State in its Treaties and Other International Acts Series.

34. Canada, Wartime Information Board, Defense Projects in Northwest Canada (Ottawa: 1944, mimeographed), p. 2.

35. Ltrs, SUSAM to Cdn Air Member, PJBD, 17 Jan 44, 14 and 21 Feb 44, OPD 580.82 Can (27 Jan 44).

36. EAS, 405; CTS, 1944, No. 19. The policy was announced by Canada on 29 February 1944. (H. C. Debates, p. 980.) For data on the expenditures by each country on Northwest Staging Route improvements, see Chapter XII, below.

37. Ltr, Cdn Air Member, PJBD to SUSAM, 17 Mar 44, OPD 580.82 Can (27 Jan 44).

38. Ltr, Atherton to Department of External Affairs, 28 Mar 44, and Reply, 3 Apr 44, PDB 105-27.

39. Ltr, CG, NWSC to Foster, 4 May 44, and Ltr, SUSAM to Cdn Air Member, PJBD, 20 Sep 44, PDB 105-27.

40. For details of expenditures by both countries, see Table 7, below, p. 324.

41. Ott Leg Desp 3614, 17 Sep 42, PDB 110-11.

42. Ltr, Moffat to Keenleyside, 5 Oct 42, PDB 110-11. See below, pp. 228-35.

43. Minutes, 18-19 Feb 43 PJBD meeting, PDB 105-13; Memo, ATC for SUSAM, 9 Apr 43, PDB 110-11.

44. Journal, 24-25 Feb 43 meeting, PDB 124.

45. Memos, SUSAM for Hickerson, 16 and 19 Apr 43, PDB 110-11; Journal, 6-7 May 1943 PJBD meeting, PDB 124.

46. Special Senate Committee Investigating the National Defense Program, 79th Congress, 2d Session, Hearings on Senate Resolution 46, 80th Congress, extending Senate Resolution 71, 77th Congress, Investigation of the National Defense Program, Pt. 39, p. 23470.

47. For fuller accounts of the arrangements, see History of the Northwest Air Route to Alaska, 1942-1945, and Admiral William H. Standley, "Stalin and World Unity," Collier's June 30, 1945. Other sources are The Northwest Route Under the Ferrying Division: 16 June 19421 November 1942, and Organizational History of the Ferrying Division: 20 June 1942-1 August 1944.

48. Alaskan Division, Historical Record Report, Nov 44-Sep 45 volume, p. 395.

49. PDB 105-28. These figures include the tactical aircraft deliveries tabulated on page 216. RCAF arrivals for the week 14-20 August 1943 include those incident to operations of No. 2 Air Observers School and Aircraft Repair, Ltd. Some data on Air Transport Command operations on the route may be found in Cave, Wings Across the World; Cleveland, Air Transport at War; and Oliver LaFarge, The Eagle in the Egg (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1949).

50. A fairly voluminous literature on the highway is included in the bibliography. By far the most detailed account is contained in House Report 1705, 79th Congress, 2d Session.

51. Journal, PDB 124; see above, pp. 200-207.

52. House Report 1705, 79th Congress, 2d Session, p. 7.

53. For a comparison of the various routes proposed, see House Report, 79th Congress, 2d Session. Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson supports his proposal in "The North American Arctic," Compass of the World, eds. V. Stefansson and H. W. Weigert (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1944), pp. 233-40.

54. Memo/Conv, 17 Apr 41, D/S 711.42/214; House Report 1705, 79th Congress, 2d Session, p. 8.

55. Memos, Roosevelt for Marshall and Adm King and for Capt McCrae, 20 Jan 42, Memo, Marshall for President, 21 Jan 42; all in Roosevelt Papers, Secy's File, Box 1. See above, pp. 200-207.

56. House Report 1705, 79th Congress, 2d Session, pp. 9-11, 88-89; Memo, CofS for Adm King, 4 Feb 42, and Reply, 5 Feb 42, WPD 4327-27.

57. Ott Leg Desp 2592, 14 Feb 42, D/S 842.154 Seattle-Fairbanks Hwy/359.

58. Department of State Bulletin, March 21, 1942, VI, 237.

59. Keenleyside MS; Memo/Conv, Moffat and Hickerson, 7 Feb 42, and Moffat and Robertson, 6 Mar 2, Moffat Diary.

The journal for the Board meeting does not record these Canadian doubts, but only the agreement reached by the Board as a whole on the need for a highway on the basis of a number of military considerations that were discussed in detail.

60. Extract of Journal at Appendix C, below; see also Appendix A, below. Mayor LaGuardia reported this background to the President in picturesque language: "We encountered more difficulty in giving 'something to somebody' than in collecting a war loan from an ally. . . . The Canadians. . . . fear a terrific political backfire. . . . I am sure you will agree that all hell will break loose when our Washington and Oregon friends learn of the route." (Ltr, 27 Feb 42, Roosevelt Papers, Official File, Box 1566.) In apparent reflection of the Canadian attitude manifested at the PJBD meeting, the phrase quoted in the text was not included when the recommendation was embodied in the diplomatic notes exchanged later.

61. House Report 1705, 79th Congress, 2d Session, pp. 91-92.

62. EAS, 246; CTS, 1942, No. 13. Ltr, Clark to Hickerson, 29 Mar 42, D/S 842.154 SeattleFairbanks Hwy/522. The regulations subsequently issued as to exemptions from import duties and taxes are contained in Department of National Revenue order WM No. 75, 9 Oct 42, published in Canada, Privy Council, Canadian War Orders and Regulations, III (1942), 155-58.

63. EAS, 380; CTS, 1942, No. 22. EAS, 381; CTS, 1943, No. 17. EAS, 331; CTS, 1943, No. 10. Concern had been occasioned in Ottawa and in the Department of State by the possibility that the highway might be christened by unilateral U.S. action through Congressional approval of House Joint Resolution 105, introduced by Mr. Dimond on 24 March 1943, rather than by a Joint and simultaneous announcement in the two capital cities. However, the announcement was made while the resolution was awaiting committee action. (Memo/Conv, J. G. Parsons and M. Wershof of the Canadian Legation, 30 Apr 43, D/S 842.154 Seattle-Fairbanks Hwy/542-1/2.

64. With passenger shipping in critical supply, Canada contributed to this troop movement by making available between 1 and 19 April, for nine trips between Seattle or Prince Rupert and Skagway, Prince Rupert, Prince George, Princess Norah, and Princess Charlotte.

65. House Report 1705, 79th Congress, 2d Session, p. 22.

66. For an account of transportation operations on the highway, see Bykofsky and Larson, The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas, pp. 57-65. The authors point out that of the total supplies moved along the highway, a net of only 57 tons of supplies had been delivered to the Alaska Defense Command by the end of the campaign in the Aleutians. However, this figure is consistent with the situation in which ocean shipping was the primary means of transportation, with the highway intended for use as an emergency facility.

67. Journal, 1-14 Jul 43) PJBD meeting, PDB 124.

68. Journal, 6-7 Sep and 7-8 Nov 44 PJBD meetings, PDB 124. Memo, 15 Nov 44, House Report 1705, 79th Congress, 2d Session, pp. 246-47.

69. Canada soon redesignated the Alaska Highway as the Northwest Highway System. (Lester B. Pearson, "Canada Looks 'Down North,'" Foreign Affairs, XXIV (July 1946), 641.)

70. The system known as the White Pass and Yukon Route comprises three companies owning the three segments of railroad in Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory, and a fourth company operating shipping on the Yukon River and its tributaries. All four companies have but one bank account and common officials and shareholders. (See Carl A. Dawson (ed.), The New North-West (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1947), pp. 193-98.)

71. EAS, 390; CTS, 1943, No. 3. The Canadian note also contains the order-in-council, Privy Council 10067, 6 Nov 42).

72. Bykofsky and Larson, The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas, contains a fuller account of the U.S. Army operations over this railway. The peak figure of 47,000 tons was achieved in August 1943, while the total for 1943 was 284,532 tons in addition to 22,000 passengers.

73. EAS, 382; CTS, 1942, No. 21.

74. Journals, 27 Apr and 14 Dec 42, and 13 Jan 43 PJBD meetings, PDB 124.

75. WD Press Releases, 4 July and 10 Dec 42; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 81st Congress, 1st Session, Senate Report 1131 to accompany H. R. 2186, Providing for a Location Survey for Railroad Facilities Between the United States and Alaska, p. 2.

76. For an account of the prewar development of the Norman Wells field, see Oliver B. Hopkins, "The 'Canol' Project", Canadian Geographical Journal, XXVII (November 1943), 238-49. For a detailed account of its wartime development, see Trevor Lloyd, "Oil in the Mackenzie Valley", Geographical Review, XXXIV (1944), 275-307.

77. An extensive list of literature on the Canol Project is included in the bibliography. The most authoritative and fully documented data result from the investigation by the Senate Special Committee Investigating the National Defense Program. They are contained in Special Senate Committee Investigating the National Defense Program, 78th Congress, 1st Session, Hearings on Senate Resolution 6, Investigation of the National Defense Program, Pt. 22; Investigation of the National Defense Program, Pt. 39 (cited above, n. 46); and Special Senate Committee Investigating the National Defense Program, 78th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Report 10, Investigation of the National Defense Program Pursuant to Senate Resolution 71, 77th Congress, and Senate Resolution 6, 78th Congress, Pt. 14, Additional Report, The Canol Project. Minutes of the late April meetings, the recommendation and approval, and the contract are reproduced in Investigation of the National Defense Program, Pt. 22, as Exhibits 1095, 1096, 1097, and 1087.

78. Investigation of the National Defense Program, Pt. 22, Exhibits 1097, 1101, and 1141.

79. D/S Telg 71, 1 May 42, D/S 811.248/486; Memo/Conv, Moffat and Keenleyside, 8 May 42, D/S 842.6363/162; U.S. Leg Ott Telg 80, 18 May 42, D/S 842.6363/168-1/5; Ltr, SW to Secy State, 18 May 42, D/S 842.6363/175.

80. EAS, 386; CTS, 1942, No. 23.

81. 81 EAS, 387; CTS, 1942, No. 24.

82. Canols 3 and 4 had not been specifically authorized before work on them began. They were noted in an exchange of letters in Ottawa, dated 22 September and 5 October 1942, which was the result of Canadian inquiry concerning reports about these projects. They were formally approved for the record on 7 June 1944. (List, U.S. Defense Projects and Installations in Canada, 12 Jan 44 [Canadian origin], PDB 150-1; EAS, 416, and CTS, 1944, No. 16.)

83. Memo, by Hickerson, 12 Jun 42, D/S 842.6363/168-4/5.

84. For an account of the Hudson's Bay Company operations, see "Oil for the Planes of Alaska", The Beaver, Outfit 274 (September 1943), pp. 4-14.

85. See above, pp. 207-15.

86. Bykofsky and Larson, The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas, pp. 64-65.

87. EAS, 388; CTS, 1943, No. 18. The area was reduced in size by a subsequent agreement published in EAS, 389, and CTS, 1943, No. 19.

88. Investigation of the National Defense Program, Pt. 22, Exhibit 1087.

89. Privy Council 1138, 12 Feb 43; Privy Council 2447, 26 Mar 43; Regulations under Privy Council 742, 28 Jan 43, in Canada, Wartime Information Board, Defense Projects in Northwest Canada, pp. 44-64; Investigation of the National Defense Program, Pt. 22, Exhibits 1088, 1145, and 1146-A; H. C. Debates, 5 May 44, pp. 2721-22.

90. Privy Council 4140, 18 May 42.

91. H. C. Debates, 5 May 44, p. 2722M; WD Press Release, 8 Mar 45; Memo for Record, 20 Nov 43 meeting in War Department, D/S 842.6363/267-4/23.

92. Senate Report 10, 78th Congress, 1st Session, Pt. 14. The report did not criticize that part of the project which called for delivery of petroleum products through Prince Rupert to Skagway and thence through the pipelines to points between Fairbanks and Watson Lake. This portion of the project cost $35 million.

93. Memo for Record, Hickerson, 30 Nov 43, D/S 842.6363/267--4/23; Minutes, 2 Dec 43 meeting, D/S 842.6363/267--11/23; H. C. Debates, 5 May 44, p. 2722.

94. Senate Report 10, 78th Congress, 1st Session, Pt. 14.

95. Privy Council 2904; H. C. Debates, 5 May 44, pp. 2722-24; WD Press Release, 5 May 44.

96. EAS, 416; CTS, 1944; No. 16.

97. WD Press Release, 5 May 44.

98. WD Press Release, 8 Mar 45.

99. Since the Radio Act, 1938, prohibited radio broadcasting except by licensed operators who had to be British subjects, authority for the operation of the U.S. Army stations was furnished, as a war measure, under Privy Council 3363, 28 April 1942.

100. Ltr, Department of External Affairs to Moffat, 16 Oct 42, cited in List, U.S. Defense Projects in Canada, 6 May 43, PDB 150-1.

101. See Ch. XI, below.

102. A summary history of the role of the port in World War II was made public by a War Department press release of 7 September 1945. The Canadian National Magazine, XXXI (November 1945), contains an article, "Prince Rupert--Secret City of the War", which expands upon the press release.

103. Ltr, Commandant 13th Naval District to CNO, 10 Mar 41, Com 13 Serial 122209.

104. Journal, PDB 124.

105. Ltr, Commandant 13th Naval District to CNO, 14 Jan 42, Com 13 Serial 123003; Ltr, WDC and Fourth Army to ACofS WPD, 28 Jan 42, WPD 323.91.

106. Journal, PDB 124; Memo, SUSAM for ACofS WPD, 27 Feb 42, PDB 116-1. 456178 O-59-17

107. Appendix A, below; Ltr, Cdn Secy PJBD to U.S. Secy, 24 Apr 42, PDB 147-1.

108. For a more detailed account of U.S. Army operations at Prince Rupert, see Bykofsky and Larson, The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas, pp. 41-46. Tucker, The Naval Service of Canada, II, 233-41, contains an account of the role of Prince Rupert in Royal Canadian Navy operations.

109. Ltr, SUSAM to Military Attaché, 14 Jul 45, and Reply, 20 Jul 45, both in PDB 126-21.

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