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The Trans-Canada Highway (French: Route Transcanadienne) is a federal-provincial highway system that joins the ten provinces of Canadamarker. It is, along with the Trans-Siberian Highway and Australia's Highway 1, one of the world's longest national highways, with the main route spanning 8,030 km (4,990 mi). The system was approved by the Trans-Canada Highway Act of 1948, construction commenced in 1950, officially opened in 1962, and was completed in 1971. The highway system is recognizable by its distinctive white-on-green maple leaf route markers.

Throughout much of Canada, there are at least two routes designated as part of the Trans-Canada Highway. For example, in the western provinces, both the main Trans-Canada route and the Yellowhead Highway are part of the Trans-Canada system.


Canada does not have a comprehensive national highway system, as decisions about highway and freeway construction are entirely under the jurisdiction of the individual provinces. In 2000 and 2001, the government of Jean Chrétien considered funding an infrastructure project to have the full Trans-Canada system converted to freeway. Although freeway construction funding was made available to some provinces for portions of the system, the government ultimately decided not to pursue a comprehensive highway conversion. Opposition to funding the freeway upgrade was due to low traffic levels in parts of the Trans-Canada; provinces preferred the money going towards improving vital trade routes (often not inter-provincial).

There have also been discussions of upgrading the Trans-Labrador Highway (Quebec Route 389/Newfoundland and Labrador Route 500) to Trans-Canada Highway standards (fully-paved, two lanes with shoulders, 90 km/h speed limit).

Route numbering on the Trans-Canada Highway is also handled by the provinces. The Western provinces have coordinated their highway numbers so that the main Trans-Canada route is designated Highway 1 and the Yellowhead route is designated Highway 16 throughout; however, from the Manitoba–Ontario border eastwards, the highway numbers change at each provincial boundary. As the Trans-Canada route was composed of sections from pre-existing provincial highways, it is unlikely that the Trans-Canada Highway will ever have a uniform designation across the whole country.

Route details


The Trans-Canada Highway, uniformly designated as Highway 1 in the four western provinces, begins in Victoria, British Columbiamarker at the intersection of Douglas Street and Dallas Road (where the "Mile 0" plaque stands) and passes northward along the east coast of Vancouver Islandmarker for to Nanaimomarker. From here, a -long ferry route (see BC Ferries) connects the highway to West Vancouvermarker, whence it passes through the Vancouvermarker metropolitan area, heading east through the Fraser Valley to Hopemarker. The TCH then turns north for through the Fraser Canyon toward Cache Creekmarker, then east for through to Kamloopsmarker, east to Banffmarker, east to Calgarymarker (where it is known as 16th Avenue N, a road with heavy traffic and many traffic lights), east to Medicine Hatmarker, east to Moose Jawmarker, east to Reginamarker, east to Brandonmarker, east to Portage la Prairiemarker, and finally east to Winnipegmarker. Winnipeg's Perimeter Highway (the southern half of which, Highway 100, is officially part of the Trans-Canada) gives highway drivers a way of bypassing the city completely.

Throughout the prairie provinces, the speed limit varies from 100 km/h (62 mph) to 110 km/h (68 mph). Most of Highway 1 through Alberta and Saskatchewan is 110 km/h (68 mph) and 100 km/h (62 mph) in Manitoba. As in all national parks in Canada, when the highway passes through national parks, the speed limit is 90 km/h (55 mph). Speed limits on the British Columbia mainland segment of the Trans Canada range from 80 km/h (50 mph) to 110 km/h (68 mph). A combination of difficult terrain and growing urbanization limit posted speeds on the Vancouver Islandmarker section to 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban core areas and a maximum of 90 km/h (55 mph) elsewhere.

There is also a route which runs between British Columbia and Alberta known as the Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3 in both provinces); while not officially part of the Trans-Canada Highway, it connects with the main branch of the highway in both Hopemarker and Medicine Hatmarker (the western and eastern termini of the Crowsnest Highway, respectively).

For more information, see also:
Trans Canada (Main) Route

Yellowhead Route


The highway continues east from Winnipeg for another to Kenoramarker. At Kenora, the Trans-Canada designation includes both the main route through the city's urban core and the Highway 17A bypass route. The existing branch from Kenora continues east for to Drydenmarker. A second branch extends southward along Highway 71 from Kenora to Chapple, a routing of , and then eastward along Highway 11 for to Shabaquamarker, where it reunites with the main Highway 17 route.

The united highway proceeds southeast for to Thunder Baymarker, then northeast for to Nipigonmarker, where it once again splits into two routes. The northern route is designated as Highway 11, and the southern branch is designated as Highway 17. From Nipigon, Highway 11 extends through Northern Ontario for east to Hearstmarker and another east through Cochranemarker. The highway proceeds southeast for to New Liskeardmarker, then south for to North Baymarker, where it meets Highway 17. Near Kirkland Lakemarker, a northern spur route of the Trans-Canada extends eastward from Highway 11, following Ontario's Highway 66 ( ), then Quebec's Route 117 ( ) and Autoroute 15 ( ) into Montreal.

A section of the Trans-Canada between Thunder Bay and Nipigon is named the Terry Fox Courage Highway. The section marks the spot where Fox was forced to end his cross-Canada Marathon of Hope run (which was raising money for cancer research). A bronze statue is located near the spot where he stopped his run.

From Nipigon, Highway 17 proceeds east along the coast of Lake Superiormarker for through to Sault Ste.marker Mariemarker and another east to Sudburymarker, where the Trans-Canada Highway splits again. The resulting southern branch follows Highways 69 and 400 south for , then follows Highway 12 southeast for to Orilliamarker, then follows Highway 12 south for along the shore of Lake Simcoe, then follows Highway 7 east for to Peterboroughmarker. The existing northern branch goes east for to North Bay, where it meets the Highway 11 route. The highway then goes east for before arriving at Pembrokemarker. The two branches converge at Ottawamarker, east of Peterborough and east of Pembroke.

Through most of Ontario, the speed limit is generally 90 km/h (55 mph) on the Trans-Canada, though freeway portions, such as the freeway segment in Sudbury and the section from Arnprior through Ottawa to the Ontario/Quebec border, have a higher limit of 100 km/h (62 mph).

It is notable that the Trans-Canada does not go through Canada's most heavily populated region, the Golden Horseshoe area of Southern Ontario, which includes Torontomarker, Ontario's provincial capital and the country's largest city.


From Ottawa, the Trans-Canada Highway proceeds east to Montrealmarker. Known as Highway 417 in Ontario and Autoroute 40 in Quebec, the Trans-Canada also assumes the name "Autoroute Métropolitaine" (also known as "The Met" or "Metropolitan Boulevard") as it traverses Montreal as an elevated highway. At the Décarie Interchangemarker in Montreal, the Abitibi route (Highway 66/Route 117/A-15) rejoins the main TCH line. The TCH then follows Autoroute 25 southbound, crossing the St. Lawrence Rivermarker through the Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine Bridge-Tunnelmarker, and proceeds northeast on Autoroute 20marker for to Lévismarker (across from Quebec Citymarker).

East of Lévis, the Trans-Canada highway continues on Autoroute 20 following the south bank of the Saint Lawrence River to a junction just south of Rivière-du-Loupmarker, northeast of Lévis. At that junction, the highway turns southeast and changes designation to Autoroute 85 for , and then downgrades to Route 185 until the New Brunswickmarker border. The portion from Autoroute 20 to Edmundstonmarker, New Brunswick is long.

Following the designation of Route 2, from Edmundston, the highway follows the St. John Rivermarker Valley, running south for to Woodstockmarker (parallelling the International Boundary) and then east for another to pass through Frederictonmarker. east of Fredericton, the St. John River turns south whereby the highway crosses the river at Jemsegmarker and continues heading east to Monctonmarker another later. On 1 November 2007, New Brunswick completed a 20-year effort to convert its 516 km section of the Trans-Canada highway into a four-lane freeway. The highway has a speed limit of 110 km/h.

Moncton – North Sydney

From Moncton, the highway continues southeast for to a junction at Aulacmarker on the New Brunswick–Nova Scotiamarker border (near Sackvillemarker) where the Trans-Canada Highway splits into the main route continuing to the nearby border with Nova Scotia as Route 2, and a route designated as Route 16 which runs east to the Confederation Bridgemarker at Cape Jourimainmarker.

Prince Edward Island

After crossing the Northumberland Straitmarker on the -long Confederation Bridgemarker to Borden-Carletonmarker, the Trans-Canada Highway follows a -long route across southern Prince Edward Islandmarker, designated as Route 1. After passing through Charlottetownmarker it ends at Wood Islandsmarker where a -long ferry route (operated by Northumberland Ferries Limited, or NFL) crosses the Northumberland Strait to Cariboumarker, Nova Scotiamarker (near Pictoumarker). From the ferry terminal at Caribou, the highway continues south for another as Highway 106 to a junction with the direct Trans-Canada Highway route (Highway 104) at Westvillemarker (near New Glasgowmarker).

Nova Scotia

From the New Brunswick border, the main Trans-Canada Highway route continues east into Nova Scotiamarker at Amherstmarker, where it follows the designation of provincial Highway 104. The highway then passes by Truromarker, where it links with provincial Highway 102 to Halifax, east of the New Brunswick border. Halifaxmarker, like Toronto, is a provincial capital not serviced by a Trans-Canada Highway. There is a stretch of highway with a toll of $4 per automobile (different rates for other vehicles).

From Truro, the highway continues east for to New Glasgow (where it links with provincial Highway 106—that portion of the Trans-Canada running to the ferry terminal at Caribou), and then northeast for another to the Canso Causewaymarker which crosses the Strait of Cansomarker to Cape Breton Islandmarker near Port Hawkesburymarker. From the Canso Causeway, the highway continues east for 144 km (89 mi) using the designation of Highway 105 on Cape Breton Island, until reaching the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal at North Sydneymarker.

Port aux Basques – St. John's

From North Sydney, a -long ferry route, operated by the Crown corporation Marine Atlantic, continues the highway to Newfoundlandmarker, arriving at Channel–Port aux Basquesmarker, whereby the Trans-Canada Highway assumes the designation of Highway 1 and runs northeast for through Corner Brookmarker, east for another through Gandermarker and finally ends at St. John'smarker, another southeast. The majority of the Trans-Canada Highway in Newfoundland is undivided, though sections in Corner Brookmarker, Grand Falls-Windsormarker, Glovertownmarker and a 100 km section from Whitbournemarker to St. John'smarker is divided.

The "mile zero" concept

Although there does not appear to be any nationally-sanctioned "starting point" for the entire Trans-Canada Highway system, St. John'smarker appears to have adopted this designation for the section of highway running in the city by using the term "Mile One" for its sports stadium and convention centre complex, Mile One Centremarker. It should be noted that the Trans-Canada Highway has been posted in kilometres since 1977, when all Canadian roads switched to metric.

The Victoriamarker terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway lies at the foot of Douglas Street and Dallas Road at Beacon Hill Parkmarker, and is marked by a "mile zero" monument. This is the official western end of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Although Highway 4 was commissioned in 1953 and is technically not part of the Trans-Canada Highway system, there is also a sign marking the Pacific terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway at Tofino, British Columbiamarker, where Highway 4 terminates in the west, but it was most likely erected before 1953. Tofino was a strong proponent of a Trans-Canada Highway since the 1920s, when the only roads in the area were gravel, recognizing the need for tourism. The community was bypassed by the official Trans-Canada Highway in the 1950s, when government prioritized the connection of major communities in its budgets, choosing instead to connect Nanaimo with Victoria.

"Highway 1" and other references

The marker showing the actual start point
  • All the highways designated 1 in the western provinces are designated as Trans-Canada Highway 1 on road maps.

  • Quebec and Ontario use standard provincial highway markers to number the highway within their boundaries, but post numberless Trans-Canada Highway shields alongside the provincial markers to identify it.

Cultural references

  • The indie rock band Constantines released a song called "Trans Canada" on their 2008 album Kensington Heights. The lyrics "There's no short cut and no straight line" allude to the highway's notoriously serpentine route.

  • Peter Brodie wrote a song called 'The Afternoons are Cold Round Georgian Bay" about a journey along the Trans-Canada Highway. It is on a CD which can be heard at [10928]

Unserved cities

See also


  1. Department of Justice Canada—Trans-Canada Highway Act—R.S.C. 1970, c. T-12
  2. Transport Canada—The Trans-Canada Highway

External links

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