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British Columbia Highway 16

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Highway 16 marker Highway 16 marker

Highway 16

Yellowhead Highway
Trans-Canada Highway
Highway 16 highlighted in red.
Route information
Maintained by British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Length1,173 km (729 mi)
Haida Gwaii segment
Length101 km[1] (63 mi)
North endMasset
South end BC Ferries dock in Skidegate
Mainland segment
Length1,072 km[1] (666 mi)
West end BC Ferries dock in Prince Rupert
Major intersections Hwy 113 in Terrace
Hwy 37 south in Terrace
Hwy 37 north in Kitwanga
Hwy 118 in Topley
Hwy 35 in Burns Lake
Hwy 27 near Vanderhoof
Hwy 97 in Prince George
Hwy 5 (YH) near Tête Jaune Cache
East endAlberta border
continues as Hwy 16 (TCH)
ProvinceBritish Columbia
Highway system
Hwy 15 Hwy 17

Highway 16 is a highway in British Columbia, Canada. It is an important section of the Yellowhead Highway, a part of the Trans-Canada Highway that runs across Western Canada. The highway closely follows the path of the northern B.C. alignment of the Canadian National Railway (CN). The number "16" was first given to the highway in 1941, and originally, the route that the highway took was more to the north of today's highway, and it was not as long as it is now. Highway 16 originally ran from New Hazelton east to Aleza Lake. In 1947, Highway 16's western end was moved from New Hazelton to the coastal city of Prince Rupert, and in 1953, the highway was re-aligned to end at Prince George. In 1969, further alignment east into Yellowhead Pass was opened to traffic after being constructed up through 1968 and raised to all-weather standards in 1969. Highway 16's alignment on Haida Gwaii was commissioned in 1983[2] and is connected to the mainland segment via BC Ferries route #11.

A series of murders and disappearances has given the stretch between Prince Rupert and Prince George the name Highway of Tears.

Route description


Haida Gwaii section


The 101 km (63 mi) segment of the 1,347-kilometre-long (837 mi) BC highway begins in the west in the village of Masset, on the northern coast of Graham Island. Proceeding south, the highway goes 38 km (24 mi) to the inlet town of Port Clements. Winding its way along the boundary of Naikoon Provincial Park, Highway 16 goes south for 27 km (17 mi) before reaching the community of Tlell. 36 km (22 mi) south of Tlell, Highway 16 reaches Skidegate, where its Haida Gwaii section terminates.

Mainland section


BC Ferries then takes Highway 16 across the Hecate Strait for 172 km (107 mi) due northeast to its landing at Prince Rupert.

Highway 16 heading west towards Prince Rupert from Terrace

From Prince Rupert, Highway 16 begins its winding route east through the Coast Mountain Ranges. Following the Skeena River, the highway travels for 151 km (94 mi) to the city of Terrace. Highway 37 merges onto Highway 16 from north of Highway 16, at the Kitwanga junction.[3] Another 43 km (27 mi) northeast, Highway 16 reaches New Hazelton, where it then veers southeast along the Bulkley River. 68 km (42 mi) later, the highway reaches the town of Smithers, proceeding southeast another 64 km (40 mi) to the village of Houston.

Along the Skeena River, near Kitwanga

At Houston, Highway 16 begins a parallel course along the upper course of the Bulkley River, proceeding 81 km (50 mi) east to its junction with Highway 35, south of Burns Lake. 128 km (80 mi) east, after passing through the hamlet of Fraser Lake, Highway 16 reaches its junction with Highway 27 in the town of Vanderhoof. 97 km (60 mi) east of Vanderhoof, Highway 16 reaches its B.C. midpoint as it enters the city of Prince George at its junction with Highway 97. Highway 16 leaves Prince George after coursing through the city for 9 km (5.6 mi).

Passing through Mt. Robson Provincial Park.

120 km (75 mi) east of Prince George, Highway 16 reaches the community of Dome Creek, where it converges with the Fraser River and turns southeast. It follows the Fraser River upstream for 82 km (51 mi) to McBride, then continues upstream for another 64 km (40 mi) to its junction with Highway 5 at Tête Jaune Cache. 14 km (8.7 mi) east of Tête Jaune Cache, Highway 16 enters Mount Robson Provincial Park, coursing through the park for 63 km (39 mi) to the boundary between British Columbia and Alberta within Yellowhead Pass.

Construction and upgrading


Prince George–New Hazelton


In August 1925, this section opened[4] with the completion of the Burns Lake–Endako link.[5]

New Hazelton–Kitwanga


Highway extended west of New Hazelton by about 6 kilometres (4 mi) in 1927–28[6] and another 5.3 kilometres (3.3 mi) in 1928–29.[7] By 1931–32, Kitwanga–Hazelton was rated fairly good.[8] By mid-1943, the condition was rated rough, awaiting tendering of reconstruction contracts.[9]



By 1931–32, Cedarvale–Kitwanga was rated passable. For Usk–Cedarvale, several segments were under construction.[8] During 1936–1941, a series of 2-to-6-kilometre (1 to 4 mi) stretches were completed,[10] which included replacing sections washed out by the 1936 flood.[11] By 1937, the Usk–Cedarvale gap still remained on the southeast shore.[12]

By 1940, a 32-kilometre (20 mi) gap remained.[13] In 1943, progress reactivated.[14] In May 1944, the gap completed[15] comprised the Pacific–Cedarvale section.[16]



Highway extended east of Terrace by about 3 kilometres (2 mi) in 1927–28[6] and another 6.0 kilometres (3.7 mi) in 1928–29.[7] In September 1929, Terrace–Usk section completed.[17]

Terrace–Prince Rupert

  • 1927: Aerial reconnaissance to identify possible routes was unsuccessful.
  • 1928: Galloway Rapids–Phelan, about 8 kilometres (5 mi) cleared. Phelan station was about 3.6 kilometres (2 mi) south of present Port Edward.
  • 1930: Galloway Rapids bridge built. Over prior few years, a narrow, winding, gravel road had been cut from the Prince Rupert city limits. A road east from the bridge began.
  • Early 1930s: Great Depression relief crews extended road eastward.
  • 1935: Completed about 4 kilometres (2 mi) eastward to Kloiya Bay. Preliminary decision made to progress a highway eastward rather than via Port Edward and south along the shoreline. Within a few years, a narrow, rough road followed the shores of Taylor and Pudhomme lakes.
  • 1938: Option of a route via present Kitimat was rejected.
  • 1942: US entry into World War II prompted the building of a highway to move troops in response to a potential Japanese invasion. That year, construction contracts were awarded. Significant parts of the CN right-of-way were appropriated for the highway and the track realigned. A total of 45 bridges would be prefabricated.
  • 1943: Working 24/7, progress hampered by high employee turnover owing to cold and wet summer weather.[18] That February, five snowslides buried a construction camp near Kwinitsa, killing two and injuring 11.[19]
  • 1944: "Skeena Highway" officially opened in September. However, the road in many places was a narrow winding trail hugging the railway tracks. With the Japanese invasion threat long passed, the road was not snowplowed that winter.
  • 1945: Route no longer possessed military value. The federal government initially maintained control because the province did not want to assume maintenance costs.[18]
  • 1946: Province took over the highway.[20]
  • 1951: Highway was paved. The following winter was the first time snowplowing was used to keep the highway open.
  • 1970: Highway rerouted and repaved.
  • 1972: January and February brought the heaviest snowfalls and longest road closures.
  • 1974: January snowslide about 45 kilometres (28 mi) west of Terrace buried motel/restaurant/gas station complex, killing seven people.
  • Late 1960s: Prince Rupert–Tyee reconstruction.
  • 1980s: Kasiks, Tyee, and Esker railway overpasses erected.
  • 1989: Falling ice at Car Wash Rock, about 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) east of Exchamsiks River Provincial Park, killed a motorist.
  • Early 1990s: Hazardous Tyee–Khyex section realigned.[18]
  • 2020s: Despite promises to rectify, the Car Wash Rock site remains hazardous.[21] About 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) farther east, the Mile 28 project to replace the railway crossing with an overpass has stalled.[22]

Highway of Tears


The Highway of Tears is a stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.[23] Since 1970, numerous women have gone missing or have been murdered along the 720 km (450 mi) section of highway.[24] Aboriginal organizations speculate that number ranges above forty.[25]

In 2016, the Canadian government launched the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women after communicating with victim families. This was done to find methods of slowing the violence within the Indigenous population.

In September 2020 a totem pole honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women was raised on the highway just outside Terrace.[26][27][28]

Major intersections


From west to east, the following intersections are observed along Highway 16.[29] Distances exclude the 172 km (93 nmi) ferry between Skidegate and Prince Rupert.

Regional DistrictLocationkm[1]miDestinationsNotes
North CoastMasset0.000.00Hodges Avenue / Towhill RoadWestern terminus of the Yellowhead Highway
Skidegate100.9062.70Oceanview Drive (Road 33) (Hwy 951:1502) – Daajing GiidsDaajing Giids was formerly known as Queen Charlotte prior to July 13, 2022.[30]
101.1962.88 Skidegate Ferry Terminal
Hecate StraitBC Ferries from Skidegate to Prince Rupert
North CoastPrince Rupert0.000.00 Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal
15.189.43Galloway Rapids Bridge from Kaien Island to the mainland
15.369.54Skeena Drive (Port Edward Road) (Hwy 951:1504) – Port EdwardHwy 951:1504 is unsigned
Kitimat–StikineTerrace145.9190.66 Hwy 113 north (Nisga'a Highway) – Nisga'a Nation
Dudley Little West Bridge and Dudley Little Main Bridge crosses the Skeena River
150.5093.52 Hwy 37 south – KitimatWest end of Hwy 37 concurrency; former Hwy 25
Kitwanga241.10149.81 Hwy 37 north (Stewart-Cassiar Highway) – Stewart, Watson LakeEast end of Hwy 37 concurrency
New Hazelton284.17176.58Churchill Street (Hwy 62 west) – HazeltonHwy 62 is unofficial and unsigned
Passes through Smithers
Telkwa366.39227.66Passes through Telkwa
Houston414.19257.37Passes through Houston
Topley445.08276.56 Hwy 118 north – Granisle
Burns Lake496.39308.44 Hwy 35 south – Francois Lake
Fraser Lake565.47351.37Passes through Fraser Lake
616.66383.17 Hwy 27 north – Fort St. James
Passes through Vanderhoof
Fraser-Fort GeorgePrince George716.66445.31Southridge AvenueInterchange; no westbound entrance
717.08445.57Tyner Boulevard, Domano BoulevardProvides access to the University of Northern British Columbia
720.55447.73 Hwy 97 (Cariboo Highway) – Dawson Creek, Quesnel, Kamloops, Vancouver
722.03448.65Victoria Street / 20th AvenueHwy 16 turns onto Victoria Street
723.74449.711st AvenueFormer Hwy 97A; Hwy 16 turns onto 1st Avenue
725.70450.93Yellowhead Bridge over the Fraser River
729.86453.51 Old Cariboo Highway (Hwy 941:1156 south) to Hwy 97 – Airport, QuesnelFormer Hwy 97A
742.31461.25Upper Fraser Road (Hwy 941:1577) – Willow River, Giscome, Upper Fraser
McBride933.97580.34McBride Bridge over the Fraser River
Tête Jaune Cache995.60618.64 Hwy 5 (YH) south – Valemount, KamloopsTête Jaune Interchange
Mount Robson
Provincial Park
1,009.70627.40West end of Mount Robson Provincial Park
1,072.37666.34Yellowhead Pass (Continental Divide) – 1,131 m (3,711 ft)
Hwy 16 (TCH/YH) east – Jasper, EdmontonContinuation into Alberta and Jasper National Park
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c Landmark Kilometre Inventory (PDF). British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Report). Cypher Consulting. January 5, 2017. pp. 224–271. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 11, 2017.
  2. ^ British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways (January 4, 1983). General Circular G1/83. Victoria: Ministry of Transportation and Highways. pp. 0, 3.
  3. ^ Infrastructure, Ministry of Transportation and. "Highway 37 Map - Province of British Columbia". www2.gov.bc.ca. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  4. ^ "Prince George Citizen". pgnewspapers.pgpl.ca. August 20, 1925. p. 2.
  5. ^ Minister of Public Works annual report, 1925–26. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. 37 (Q23).
  6. ^ a b Minister of Public Works annual report, 1927–28. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. 42 (U24).
  7. ^ a b Minister of Public Works annual report, 1928–29. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. 43 (S23).
  8. ^ a b Minister of Public Works annual report, 1931–32. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. M11.
  9. ^ "Prince George Citizen". pgnewspapers.pgpl.ca. July 15, 1943. p. 6.
  10. ^ Minister of Public Works annual report, 1936–37. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. 33 (X23).
    Minister of Public Works annual report, 1938–39. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. 39 (Z29).
    Minister of Public Works annual report, 1940–41. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. 47 (O37).
  11. ^ Minister of Public Works annual report, 1937–38. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. 30 (X26).
  12. ^ "Standard Oil BC map". www.davidrumsey.com. 1937.
  13. ^ "Daily Colonist". archive.org. November 21, 1940. p. 2.
  14. ^ Minister of Public Works annual report, 1943–44. library.ubc.ca (Report). p. 11 (Q6).
  15. ^ "Prince George Citizen". pgnewspapers.pgpl.ca. May 25, 1944. p. 6.
  16. ^ "Prince George Citizen". pgnewspapers.pgpl.ca. August 10, 1944. p. 1.
  17. ^ "Prince George Citizen". pgnewspapers.pgpl.ca. September 26, 1929. p. 1.
  18. ^ a b c Septer, Dirk (1995). "BC Historical News: Highway 16: Prince Rupert–Terrace 1944–1994". library.ubc.ca. 29 (1): 26–28 (24–26).
  19. ^ "Daily Colonist". archive.org. February 13, 1943. p. 1.
  20. ^ "B.C. to Take Over Highway from CNR". Vancouver Sun. September 26, 1946. p. 9. Retrieved March 3, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ "Transportation and Infrastructure correspondence" (PDF). kc-usercontent.com. March 15, 2021. p. 8.
  22. ^ "North Coast Review". northcoastreview.blogspot.com. April 15, 2019.
  23. ^ Gerson, Jen. "Four things to know about Highway of Tears scandal, and the documents B.C. government allegedly deleted". National Post. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  24. ^ Ferreras, Jesse (September 25, 2012). "Highway Of Tears: BC's Missing And Murdered Women". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  25. ^ "Those Who Take Us Away" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  26. ^ "Totem pole to be raised on B.C.'s Highway of Tears to honour missing, murdered Indigenous women". www.cbc.ca. September 4, 2020.
  27. ^ "Memorial pole raised on Highway of Tears in B.C. for families". www.aptnnews.ca. September 15, 2020. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  28. ^ "Community gathers for monumental totem pole raising along B.C.'s Highway of Tears". www.terracestandard.com. September 4, 2020. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  29. ^ British Columbia Road Atlas (2007 ed.). Oshawa, ON: MapArt Publishing Corp. 2010. pp. 16–23, 26–30, 36–37. ISBN 978-1-55368-018-5.
  30. ^ Ministry of Municipal Affairs (July 13, 2022). "Ancestral Haida name restored to Haida Gwaii village". news.gov.bc.ca.
KML is from Wikidata
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