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The Inter-Provincial Highway

December 14, 2011

By 1913 it was clear that the road from the Westminster Bridge at Brownsville would comprise a section of two major highways. The Public Works Department reported:

“The principal work done this season was upon the Pacific or International Highway. This is a trunk road. It is intended to form part of the highway along the Coast through the Pacific States, uniting the road system of British Columbia with those to the south of the boundary line . . .

Another trunk road is the Interprovincial Highway. This road is planned as a highway from the Coast in an easterly direction south of the Fraser, and eventually to join the old Cariboo Road at Yale.”

The driving force in the development of highways was the growth in automobile ownership.

In the first full year of operation of the Westminster Bridge in 1905,  vehicular traffic consisted of 14,000 horses and buggies, and it was an extremely busy day when 50 crossed over.

Automobiles were taking over as the conveyance of choice and their increased speed of travel required better roads.

Works Minister Thomas Taylor had trumpeted the Canadian Highway at a meeting of the Pacific Highway Association at San Francisco in August 1912. In an address titled “The Roads of British Columbia,”  Taylor announced the formation of the Canadian Highway Association.

“our association, aided and encouraged by your enthusiasm, has evolved an undertaking of even greater magnificence, which has for its object the building of a highway from Alberni on the Pacific to Halifax on the Atlantic.
The responsibility for the construction of the main highway through the province of British Columbia known locally as the Trans-provincial Road rests with me.”

Thomas Taylor Public Works 1912
Hon Thomas Taylor, Minister of Public Works, 1912

Other prime movers during these heady years of road expansion under the allure of the automobile included the long serving Road Superintendent John H Sprott, and successive Ministers of Public Works, Dr John H King, and Dr DH Sutherland.

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