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Dease Lake Highway
|Length:||874 km (543 mi)|
|Existed:||1975 – present|
|South end:||Kitimat, BC|
| BC 16 in Terrace
BC 113 at Cranberry Junction
BC 37A at Meziadin Junction
|North end:||Hwy 1 near Upper Liard, YT|
Territorial highways in Yukon
The Stewart-Cassiar Highway, also known as the Dease Lake Highway and the Stikine Highway as well as the Terrace-Kitimat Highway from Kitimat to Terrace, is the northwesternmost highway in the Canadian province of British Columbia. A scenic route through some of the province's most isolated areas, the highway first gained designation as British Columbia Highway 37 in 1975. At that time, its southern terminus was at the community of New Hazelton on the BC Highway 16 (the Yellowhead Highway). In 1979, with the completion of a new bridge, the highway's Yellowhead junction was relocated to a point on Highway 16 just south of the site of Kitwanga. Highway 37 was then extended south to Kitimat in 1986, using a stretch of road that was previously designated Highway 25. At the north end, the highway briefly stretches into Yukon, becoming Yukon Highway 37.
Highway 37 starts its 874 km (543 mi) journey in the south at Kitimat. 59 km (37 mi) north, Highway 37 reaches Terrace, where it merges onto the Yellowhead Highway. The Yellowhead coincides with Highway 37 east for 91 km (57 mi) to Kitwanga Junction, where the Yellowhead diverges east.
North of the Yellowhead's Kitwanga junction, Highway 37 travels 76 km (47 mi) to Cranberry Junction, and then another 80 km (50 mi) north to Meziadin Junction, where Highway 37A begins and heads west via Bear River Pass to Stewart and Hyder, Alaska. Highway 37 travels north through the Skeena Mountains for 333 km (207 mi) to the Continental Divide community of Dease Lake, which straddles the Stikine and Dease River basins. Another 116 km (72 mi) north and Highway 37 reaches Jade City, where a junction to the former Asbestos-mining community of Cassiar is located. North of Jade City, Highway 37 travels another 120 km (75 mi) to its crossing of the 60th parallel into the Yukon Territory, becoming Yukon Highway 37 and terminating at a junction with the Alaska Highway near Upper Liard just 3.4 km (2.1 mi) later. According to the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation, "Most of the route is hard surface (either pavement or sealcoat) with approximately one kilometre of gravel."
The Highway 37 of today is the result of highway extension projects begun during the 1960s and climaxing in 1972.
Originally, a roadway extended south from the Alaska Highway to serve the Cassiar mining district, eventually reaching Dease Lake and joining a road to Telegraph Creek (sometimes referred to as Highway 51, but not signed as such). To the south, logging roads extended north almost as far as Meziadin Junction.
By 1968, the route of what is now 37A extended past Meziadin Junction north. By the middle of 1972, only a few miles remained to be built between Meziadin Junction and Iskut. Four bicyclists, whose journey from Alaska to Montana was chronicled in a May 1973 National Geographic article, braved the muddy gap.
Once this route was completed, travelers only had to contend with limited hours for using the logging roads south of Meziadin Junction, roads which were upgraded during the 1970s. The completion of a new bridge over the Skeena River gave Highway 37 a more direct connection to Highway 16.
The Highway 37 corridor is slated for infrastructure enhancements as resource extraction activities increase in the Northwest region of British Columbia. The Northwest Transmission Line is being constructed by BC Hydro and will run from Terrace, British Columbia to Bob Quinn Lake largely paralleling the highway.