Yukon Nuggets

1943 Yukon Nuggets

An Alaska Highway Story


The first overland, motorized mail service into the Yukon was delivered by the American military. Like almost everything else during World War II, the Americans ran the show in the Northwest. So it's not surprising that they ran the mail.

The Northwest Service command motor-vehicle mail route to Fairbanks started on November 27, 1943. The service provided a direct dispatch of overland mail including first class letters, parcels and the exchange of mail between Edmonton, Dawson Creek, Whitehorse and Fairbanks. The trucks would also drop off mail at the few smaller communities along the route.

The estimated time of delivery of a letter from Seattle to Fairbanks was seven days, eight hours. The drivers on the Alaska Highway were soldiers who were "hand picked and relieved at each relay station". The highway delivery time from Dawson Creek to Fairbanks was three days and 19 hours.

The mail service was under the command of an American Major, H.C. Walters, postal officer for the Northwest Service command. The first convoy on that cold November day back in 1943 carried its full share of historic letters. One from the Edmonton Chamber of commerce to its counterpart in Fairbanks. Mayors from towns and cities along the route exchanged greetings, as did postmasters at various points.

Mail had been delivered north, prior to this development, by bush airplanes, and by horse-drawn sleighs using overland trails. But this breakthrough provided by the American military meant large parcels could be sent by truck, at a fraction of the cost of using aircraft. No doubt, Christmas presents got much larger as the result of this new, and relatively fast, mail service to the north.


A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.