Yukon Nuggets

  • A Quonset style theatre.

1943 Yukon Nuggets

First Broadcast - TITA Theatre


When the men and women of the American army, along with civilian contractors, were building the Alaska Highway, there wasn't much time for entertainment. There wasn't much entertainment to be found, but in the spring of 1943 there was an event worth remembering.

McCrae, near Whitehorse, was the main base for contractors working the northern section of the Alaska Highway. With financial assistance from the American army, a private contractor, Metcalf Hamilton Kansas City Bridge Company, built a 600-seat movie theatre near the White Pass railway crossing.

It was called the TITA theatre - an unusual name to be sure. TITA stood for 'This Is The Army'. The entertainment event, perhaps of the decade, in that spring of '43 had military and civilian personnel talking about it for months.

It was the North American premier of a smash new movie called "This is the Army", with music written by the most famous composer of his day - Irving Berlin.

It was such an important event that the Mutual Broadcasting Network of the US teamed up with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to carry live coverage of the proceedings. There were speeches by all the top American military brass in the region - live interviews and an introduction by the CBC's famed broadcaster, J. Frank Willis, and a tape of greetings from Robert Service, who sent his best wishes to the men of the new north, who had hewn a great highway into the land of the midnight sun.


The special broadcast was delivered south over the new telegraph line which had been built by the U.S. Corp of Army Engineers. In fact, they had placed 40 telephone poles every mile between Whitehorse and Edmonton - a total of 65 thousand poles.


The TITA theatre is no longer standing in McCrae, but if you ever see a rerun of the movie "This is the Army" on a late night TV, think for a moment what those entertainment-starved men and women building the Alaska Highway must have felt on opening night in the spring of '43.


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.