Whitehorse Daily Star

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About 1,000 persons witnessed teh hand-over ceremony Wednesday of the Northwest Highway System. The Department of Public Works takes over from the Canadian Army who have maintained and operated the Canadian section of the Alaska Highway for 18 years. Officials from all over Canada attended the ceremony and saw a 4,500 pound cairn unveiled.

DPW takes over highway

Hundreds of spectators crowded around the ceremonial grounds Wednesday to witness the official hand-over of the Northwest Highway System to the Department of Public Works from the Canadian Army.

By Whitehorse Star on April 2, 1964

Thursday, April 2, 1964

DPW takes over highway

Hundreds of spectators crowded around the ceremonial grounds Wednesday to witness the official hand-over of the Northwest Highway System to the Department of Public Works from the Canadian Army.

The hour-long ceremony attended by top officials of army and government departments marked the end of an 18-year tenure which began when Canadians took over control of the portion of the highway in Canada from the U.S. Army.

Chief Military officer taking part in the ceremony was Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant-General Geoffrey Walsh. He turned over control at 11:48 a.m. to G. Lucien Lalonde who is deputy minister of the Department of Public Works.

The ceremony was conducted by Brigadier G.H. Spencer, ninth and last commander of the NWHS for the Canadian Army.

Walsh, however, was the first commander of the NWHS in 1946. He felt that the Canadian Army had worked hard continually improving the Alaska Highway. It had been a rewarding experience, never to be forgotten.

Lieutenant-General Walsh said the original intention in 1946 seemed to have the Canadian Army maintain the Alaska Highway for one or two years. This period had extended into 18 years.


"I am proud that the Army played its part," he said. "Our part is played out and it is time for the Highway to be taken over as a civilian affair."

He noted that the Army's work in improving the Alaska Highway through Canada probably had a tremendous affect on the development of mineral, gas and oil exploration throughout the Territory.


"It couldn't have been done as quickly without the road," he said.

Mr. Lalonde accepted NWHS saying that DPW is deeply conscious of the magnitude of the tasks done by the Army. He was aware of the purpose and usefulness the Highway can continue to play in this region.

The 4,500-pound rock cairn was then unveiled, adjacent to another and similar cairn commemorated there in 1946.

Army Farewell

\May the Yukon be blessed with paved roads were the parting words of Canadian Army as it performed it's official departure from the Yukon at noon today in Whitehorse.

Lieut.-Col. John Hazen represented the Army at the official farewell ceremonies which were conducted in front of the Federal Building on Main St.

He said the army has enjoyed the work for the Yukon and its people. "We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the hospitality."

Cheers to Yukon

More than 60 parading soldiers raised their caps in three rousing cheers for the people of the Yukon.

Col. Hazen extended a tribute to the Commissioner and thanks for his support it has given the army in the past.

"To our successors," he said, "we wish them well, good cheer and good luck. I am sure they will do the things we failed in."

Hundreds There

The parade was attended by hundreds of town residents who turned out to see the farewell ceremony and hear the famous band of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery play.

Commissioner G.R. Cameron thanked the army for the tremendous job it had done in serving the Northwest Highway System. He said he hoped the many persons who have served on the system would spread the word that "snow shoes" aren't the only things Yukon has to offer.

Mayor Ed Jacobs of Whitehorse added the city's thanks for the part the army has played along the Highway for the past 18 years.

Thanks for Coming

"Thanks for being here. So long, and we wish you could have stayed longer," he said.

Chamber of Commerce vice-president R.E. "Buzz" Hudson presented the army with a bronze plaque. It will be placed in the Federal Building until a new and permanent City Hall is established in the city.

He said the army had taken a great part in the social and cultural aspect of the community.

"We owe these people a debt of gratitude," he said, "And even greater is our debt to them in the manner in which they carried out their duties - the lifeline to this Territory."

The plaque is in recognition for the army's part in the community.

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