Highways and Public Works

Department Overview

Alaska Highway

Alaska Highway

Today, the Alaska Highway is vastly different to the road hastily constructed - in just 10 months - to satisfy American defence needs during World War II.

The Alaska Highway is a unique road with a colourful history that is as much a part of the Yukon as the Gold Rush of 1898.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour in December 1941
U.S. Government worried about the vulnerability of shipping lanes on the west coast and sought a land route to guarantee a continuity of supplies to and from Alaska.

Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board of Defense met and decided upon a route for a road between Dawson Creek, British Columbia (B.C.), and Fairbanks, Alaska. 

Canada granted the right of way and the United States financed the construction done by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Public Roads Administration during 1942 and 1943.

At the end of the war, Canada assumed responsibility for maintenance and improvements of the Alaska Highway and Haines Road (also constructed by the U.S. Army). 

Post-war improvement efforts focussed on the area between Dawson Creek, B.C., and Whitehorse, Yukon.  Beyond Whitehorse, sparsely populated northern sections of the road received little attention and began to deteriorate over time. 

This section of the highway came to be known as the Shakwak – from the Tlingit word meaning “between the mountains”.

The Shakwak Project has enabled quicker rebuilding of the Alaska Highway and Haines Road, and Canada is grateful for the assistance of the United States Government.

Contact Us

Contact Transportation Engineering

Government of Yukon
Department of Highways and Public Works
Box 2703 (W-13)
Whitehorse, YT Y1A 2C6
Phone: (867) 667-8820
Toll free in Yukon: 1-800-661-0408 - local 8820
Fax: (867) 393-6447

Contact Transportation Maintenace

Department of Highways and Public Works
Government of Yukon
Box 2703 (W-12)
Whitehorse, YT Y1A 2C6
Phone: (867) 667-5644
Toll free (In Yukon): 1-800-661-0408, local 5644
Fax: (867) 667-3648
Email: highways@gov.yk.ca