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Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada
The Beginning of The Alaska Highway
June 11, 2016

Welcome to Dawson Creek Mile 0 sign

history clipart bookDawson Creek is a city in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. The municipality is 9.41 square miles and derives its name from the creek of the same name that runs through the community. The creek was named after George Mercer Dawson by a member of his land survey team when they passed through the area in August 1879. Once a small farming community, Dawson Creek became a regional centre when the western terminus of the Northern Alberta Railways was extended there in 1932. The community grew rapidly in 1942 as the US Army used the rail terminus as a transshipment point during construction of the Alaska Highway. In the 1950s, the city was connected to the interior of British Columbia via a highway and railway through the Rocky Mountains.

Dawson Creek is located in the dry and windy prairie land of the Peace River Country and has been called the "Capital of the Peace". It is also known as the "Mile 0 City", referring to its location at the southern end of the Alaska Highway.

sign - Dawson Creek Historical Site

The Alaska Highway begins at Mile 0 in Dawson Creek, BC. The first 613 miles of the Alaska Highway are in British Columbia, where it is designated BC Highway 97 North. The highway travels in a northwesterly direction to the Yukon  border near Watson Lake, YT (Historical Mile 635). From there it continues as Yukon Highway 1, crossing 577 miles of Yukon to Port Alcan on the Alaska border. The Alaska Highway crosses into Alaska at Historical Mile 1221.8, where it becomes Alaska Route 2. From this international border, it is 200 miles to Delta Junction, AK (Historical Mile 1422), the official end of the Alaska Highway, and 298 miles to Fairbanks, the unofficial end of the highway, at Historical Mile 1520.

Alaska Highway map
sing - Mile 0 Alaska Highway
Situated in the middle of the Traffic Circle (Connects Highway 2, Highway 49 or Highway 97, along 8th street) stands the Pioneer Surveyor Statue. It is a tribute to the thousands of men who built the Alaska Highway. The figure points northwest, the direction the soldiers took in the 1940's. The statue is made of scrap metal found in the area - a scrap iron sculpture pointing the way to Alaska. Surveyors were the first stage of the road, setting out the path for construction crews. The statue's garments and equipment are authentic to the 40's era. The statue was created by local sculpture, Karl Mattson.
Pioneer Surveyor Statue.
Pioneer Surveyor Statue.
Pioneer Surveyor Statue.

Below: The Mile 0 Cairn marks the beginning of the Alaska Highway and is located on the very spot the military surveyors placed their transit as they plotted the route the highway would take. All mileage along the Alaska Highway route is measured from this very spot.

Below: Karen Duquette 2009

Below: 2016 photo

Karen Duquette at The Mile 0 Cairn 2009 The Mile 0 Cairn 2016

Below:June 11, 2016 - a rainy day

the two RV Gypsies at The Mile 0 Cairn 2016
the two RV Gypsies at The Mile 0 Cairn 2016

June 12, 2016

Karen Duquette at the Mile 0 Cairn 2016

Below: the plaque on the sign shown above & another nearby sign.

plaque about the Alaska Highway
Dawson Creek Mile 0 sign

Mile 0 Post (1946): Designated by local artist, Ellis Gislasson for the Jaycees Junior Chamber of Commerce. The Mile 0 Post has become one of the most photographed markers on the Alaska Highway. There have been three Mile 0 Posts over the years with the first wooden Mile 0 Post being destroyed by a drunk driver, and the second was stolen by Halloween pranksters and replaced with an outhouse. This post was installed in the 1980s and is metal and is bolted into place. It flies the flags of Canada, the province of British Columbia, and the community of Dawson Creek.

Mile 0 Post
Mile 0 Post
Kindness Meter

history clipart bookBelow: The grain elevator is the only survivor of eight elevators that used to dominate the community in both visual and economic terms. In its new life as the home of the Dawson Creek Art Gallery, the elevator continues to be an important part of the the town more than a half-century after being built.   The elevator now standing in Dawson Creek was built in 1948 as Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator No. 2. The main tower is 35 feet square and 95 feet high. It's purpose was to collect grain from individual farmers, store it in a series of bins inside the elevator and an adjoining annex, and then to ship it out in bulk by rail.

By 1980, six of the eight elevators at Dawson Creek had been demolished. A member of the South Peace Art Society came up with the idea that if one could be saved it would make a unique art gallery. The "Save the Elevator Committee" was formed, and in October 1982 the Alberta Wheat Pool agreed to sell Elevator No. 2 to the city for $2. The catch was that it had to be moved off Wheat Pool property by November 30th.

The move began on November 19, 1982, and by November 26 everything was in place at the new site beside the original Northern Alberta Railway depot, now called NAR Park.

While moving the elevator was the most impressive part of the project, converting the elevator annex into an art gallery was no small feat either. The 12 grain bins inside were a structural part of the building, and extensive modifications, including the addition of supporting columns, were required. When finished, 1,000 square feet of studio space and 200 lineal feet of unique exhibition space were available to artists.

 The Dawson Creek Art Gallery opened on October 23, 1983. The exhibition space is a spiraling ramp that climbs about 30 feet. About fourteen exhibitions are presented annually. The two RV Gypsies enjoyed their tour of the art gallery.

NAR Park is also the location of the Visitor Information Centre, the Dawson Creek Museum, two gift shops and a cafe, and the location of the start of the Alaska Highway.

Dawson Creek grain elevator
grain elevator being moved
Northern Alberta Railways Park train
cafe entrance sign
Explosion block - Supper time February 13, 1943, a fire ignited 60 cases of dynamite causing an explosion that rocked the area, destroyed the block and shattered most of the windows in town. Five confirmed deaths, hundreds of injuries, and a loss of $350,000 (1940 wartime dollars) for the buildings destroyed.
Dew Drop Inn
When the Alaska Hotel (Dew Drop Inn) was built in 1933, it was a 6-room hotel with a lobby and cafe. In 1942, the Inn became licensed to sell alcohol. The 1940's beer parlor was so busy that lines stretched around the building and customers were allowed in for a drink and then forced to go out to the end of the line. Today it holds the distinction of being the same type of business occupying the same building for the longest period.
Blue Bird Hotel was one of 3 hotels in town in 1934. It was reminiscent of the many small operations established by Chinese immigrants in prairie towns during the era of the west being opened up. The original building is still in use and is part of the Mile 0 Hotel
Blue Bird Hote
Blue Bird Hote
Mile Zero Hotel

Murals on memory lane - wander back in time to the Dawson Creek of the 1930's and 1940's. Murals depict the story of Dawson Creek since the highway was completed in 1942.

mural - The 5¢ to $1 Store
The 5¢ to $1 Store was established in the early 1930's and sold many varieties of dry goods. Shown in the window are gum balls and toys. In 1942, in preparation of the troops arriving, this building became the U.S. Army Quartermaster staff headquarters.
The mural image of the moose depicted in the livery stable of the Central Livery Barn below evolves from an event from 1930's Dawson Creek folk lore. It caused a lot of excitement the day it wandered into town. The moose was discovered in the livery stable where he was contentedly munching the grain from the stable floor, and flirting with the mares. By mistake, someone locked the critter in. After being set free that evening, the moose casually wandered away.
mural - Central Livery Barn
mural --Halverson's Beauty Salon
Halverson's Beauty Salon's original building still stands on its location at 925-103 Avenue and it is still a hairdressing shop. The outlet was established in 1945 by Anne Halverson and remained open for business until 1982. Anne was also well-known for her fabulous pioneer outfits that she wore during Bonanza Days (now Dawson Creek's Fall Fair & Rodeo) and other occasions. Because of her superb attire, someone nick-named her Bonanza Bonnie and it stuck.
mural - Smoke shop
mural - bakery
mural - Ford sales and service
mural - Ford sales and service
At the end of the above alley is the main street of Dawson Creek as it was in 1946. Many of these original buildings (although renovated) are becoming permanent fixtures on Dawson Creek's downtown street scene. The Mile 0 Post of today is slightly different than the post shown here. The flags of the City of Dawson Creek, the Province of British Columbia and Canada have been fastened to the top of the post; and another Alaskan City, Delta Junction and its distance from Dawson Creek has been acknowledged.
mural - Dawson Creek's downtown street scene
Note how neatly they painted the pole and wire to match the mural.
mural - Dawson Creek's downtown street scene
Lee Duquette and a mural - Dawson Creek's downtown street scene 2009
These murals depict scenes of the construction of the Alaska Highway (1942) and show the formidable terrain that met the men and machines building the highway. After 8 months of construction, the road was officially opened on November 20, 1942 at Soldiers' Summit near Kluane Lake in the Yukon. The ceremony was called the Sharing of the Golden Scissors. Engraved gold scissors were used to cut a red, white and blue ribbon to open the road. Then the scissors were broken apart; one blade went to the American President and the other went to the Canadian Prime Minister.
mural - trail of 42
mural - scenes of the construction of the Alaska Highway
scenes of the construction of the Alaska highway
mural - scenes of the construction of the Alaska highway

The mural map is part of the Alaska Highway Park Mural that is a pictorial view of life on the Alaskan Highway. The map is of the original route of the Alaska Highway that has some locations that no longer exist.

A mural giving a glimpse into some memorabilia of a soldier's life.
mural - a glimpse into some memorabilia of a soldier's life
leaving Dawson Creek sign
look below

This is not a linear site, so there are always options for where to navigate next. There are four (4) choices below:

go to the next adventure of the two RV GypsiesContinue in the order of occurrence: The Alaska Highway House in Dawson Creek (a museum)


go back to the SD menu Return to the British Columbia Canada 2016 menu to continue the adventures of the two RV Gypsies in 2016 in any order you choose.


next button If you have seen all of the British Columbia 2016 pages, please continue on to The Yukon Territory - Watson Lake, Sign Post Forest, Lucky Lake hike, Teslin, wildlife, Miles Canyon, Tahkini Hot Springs and more. Then on to the rest of 2016 travels.


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