Friday, March 24, 2017

The Canol Road, Yukon, Canada

In April 1942, the U.S. military embarked on a grand scheme to tap a local source for vitally needed oil to support its northern World War II operation.

The war effort included construction of the Alaska Highway, the deployment of thousands of troops in Alaska to guard against a feared Japanese invasion from the captured Aleutian Islands, and a major airlift of supplies to Siberia to aid a beleaguered Russian army’s ultimately successful struggle to turn back a German invasion.
The Canol (short for Canadian Oil) Road was part of a project to build a pipeline and a road from Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to Whitehorse, Yukon during World War II.

The pipeline no longer exists, but the 449 kilometres (279 mi) long Yukon portion of the road is maintained by the Yukon Government during summer months.

The 4 inch pipeline was laid directly on the ground, and the high grade of the oil allowed it to flow even at −80 °F (−62 °C). Workers on the road and pipeline had to endure mosquitoes, black flies, extreme cold and other difficult conditions.

One poster for the company that hired workers warned that the conditions could be life-threatening; emphasising that if people were not willing to endure the conditions, they should not apply for the work. The oil flow commenced in 1944, but was shut down in 1945, having not performed entirely satisfactorily.
The primary pipeline between Whitehorse and Canol was later removed and sold for use elsewhere. The refinery was purchased in early 1948 by Imperial Oil, dismantled, and trucked to Alberta for the Leduc oil strike.

The roadway is the surviving legacy of the Canol project. Although abandoned in 1946–1947, the southernmost 150 miles (240 km) was reopened in 1958 to connect Ross River, Yukon with the Alaska Highway.