Canol Road Folly

View photos of a cycling trip along the Northwest Territories historic Canol Heritage Trail. The trail was part of an ambitious — and badly flawed — roadbuilding project during the Second World War.

Written by Canada's History

January 17, 2014

The February-March 2014 issue of Canada’s History magazine includes the story of a little-known wartime pipeline-building project in Canada’s North.

The Canol Road pipleline was an ambitious project to ship oil overland from Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, to military bases in Alaska.

It required building a 350-road kilometre road over an untracked wilderness of heaving permafrost, mountains, rushing rivers and other extremely difficult terrain. Its advocates in the United States military underestimated how difficult the project would be.

The Canol Road was completed at a cost that went many times over budget and proved difficult to maintain. In the end, it was in operation for just one year before being shut down in the spring of 1945.

Today the road has become the Canol Heritage Trail, a recreational trail used by off-roaders, cyclists, and hikers. The magazine article describes a cycling trip over the trail by writer Ryan Stuart, photographer Ryan Creary, and Paul Christensen and Anthony DeLorenzo.

View a photo gallery of Creary’s photos of the trip.

For more about this story, read the February-March 2014 issue of Canada’s History magazine, available at newsstands or by subscription. Subscribe online.

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