A US Highway in Canada? Alcan, Part 1

by | May 18, 2010 | Alcan, Salvation

“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.'” (Isa 40:3-5 NIV)

December 7, 1941 shook the United States at the very core. The unexpected attack on Pearl Harbor left the Americans scrambling for a strategic plan. Panic escalated as the United States realized that their most northerly and westerly state, Alaska, was not only a mere 600 miles from Japan, but was also very poorly defended. Alaska’s defence arsenal consisted of just a few antiquated aircrafts and ships. There was no way they would be able to successfully repulse an attack! All of North America was potentially at risk to a Japanese invasion!

It was quickly realized that a road had to be constructed to transport troops and military supplies from the continental U.S. to their most northerly and westerly state. The only problem was the huge expanse of non-U.S. land that existed between the two: Canada!

In order to build their road, the Americans would need to receive the cooperation and support of their northerly neighbors. It had already been suggested years earlier that such a road be constructed, but Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King had been less than enthusiastic. After all, why would the Canadians even want a road built by the United States on their own soil? To them, it looked like an invasion of privacy. The bill had been sitting in the Canadian Parliament for 17 years, and getting immediate approval for the road would take a little miracle!

The attack on Pearl Harbor became that “miracle”, and the Canadian Government finally approved the construction of the road. In the Spring of 1942, the U.S. Army engineers began the construction of the overland route to Alaska in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

Eleven thousand troops and 16,000 civilians were engaged in this project. Speed was the #1 priority, and the caterpillar tractors almost overran the surveyors as they levelled anything in sight. They were followed immediately by the graders, and then the gravel trucks and the bridge-and culvert-building crews. They were met with swamps, landslides, bugs (they sure are a deterrent!) and floods. Nevertheless, by working non-stop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the road was completed in just 9 months. On November 20, 1942, at Soldier’s Summit, south of Kluane Lake, the Alaska Highway was officially opened.

One hundred thirty-three bridges, 8,000 culverts and 1523 miles of gravel highway had been built at a cost of over $140,000,000, U.S. What had seemed impossible-the construction of a U.S. road in Canada-had been made possible, not through force or bribery, but through the cooperation of two different countries. And all because of a potential Japanese invasion! The Japanese did attack Alaska, on June 3, 1942. Their efforts were unsuccessful!

The road was deemed less than perfect by the Canadians, however. After all, who would want to drive along a road that twisted around sharp corners, climbed up and down steep hills, and at times, even forded rivers? Wouldn’t that make everyone dizzy? In 1943 road improvement was turned over to the Public Roads Administration, and more than 90 contracting firms were brought into the picture. Canada then paid the U.S. $77,000,000 for “everything deemed of permanent value” that pertained to the Canadian portions of the road. Over the years to come, the road would be eventually totally reconstructed.

We, too, are facing a huge abyss, not unlike the distance between Alaska and the continental United States. We, too, are separated from home, and it is impossible for us, alone, to cross that chasm. Through our sin, we are separated from our source of Life: God Himself! “Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us…” (Rom 3:23 The Message)

A road has already been build however, by God’s own hands, which bridge that gap, making it possible for us to return home, making reconciliation with our Source of life possible. “God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” (Rom 3:24 The Message)

The highway to heaven was built and paved by no other than God Himself! “Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” (Rom 6:23 The Message); and “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Rom 5:10 NIV)

It is our choice whether or not to walk that road. It is our choice whether or not to accept God’s way home! One thing is for sure though: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)

Will you join me in walking that road home? His offer still stands!

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

P. S. Even addiction over sin is guaranteed to be overcome by God’s power! What do we have to lose? “So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.” (John 8:36)

Rob Chaffart

(To access the entire “Alcan!” devotional series, please click here.)


A US Highway in Canada? Alcan, Part 1