Historic Sites of Manitoba: Trans-Canada Highway Monument (Eastern Manitoba)
A large boulder marks the spot where the original Trans-Canada Highway crossed the Manitoba-Ontario border. Built by men employed by government relief programs during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the highway in eastern Manitoba was 145½ miles in length, from the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street in Winnipeg to Kenora. This portion of the highway opened to vehicle traffic on 2 June 1932 and an official opening ceremony was held on Dominion Day (1 July) 1932. Four days later, the first hitchhikers, a pair of 15-year-old boys from Winnipeg, headed to Kenora on the new highway, allowing themselves two weeks for the return trip.
A metal plaque that was formerly affixed to the side of the boulder has been moved to a tourist information centre about ½ mile to the west. The plaque lists the names of Manitoba and Ontario officials present at the ceremony in 1932. For Manitoba, they were William Reid Clubb (Minister of Public Works), Archibald McGillivray (Deputy Minister), Manson Ainslie Lyons (Chief Engineer), and William Harold Hunt (District Engineer). For Ontario, they were William Finlayson (Minister of Lands and Forests), C. H. Fullerton (Deputy Minister), J. Sinton (Chief Engineer), and R. T. Lyons (District Engineer).
The boulder remains at the overgrown original site beside an abandoned portion of the highway. Also present beside the boulder are two concrete bases for flag poles, presumably for Manitoba and Ontario flags.
“Trans-Canada Highway to be open June 2 to 6,” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 June 1932, page 3.
“First hitch-hikers start on Trans-Canada Highway,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 July 1932, page 8.
We thank Doris Ames for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 July 2023