Yukon Nuggets

  • Construction along Kluane Lake.

  • The opening ceremony.

1942 Yukon Nuggets

The Alaska Highway Opens


It was a bitterly cold day. The CBC announcer said, because of wartime restrictions, he was not allowed to give the temperature. But the bands played on; the red, blue and white ribbon was cut; trucks roared past the viewing party and the Alaska Highway was officially opened.

Soldiers Summit, on the shores of Kluane Lake was the location of that impressive ceremony back on November 20th,1942. At 9.30 a.m., Colonel K.B. Bush, the Northwest Service Command Chief of Staff, acting as master of ceremonies, began by delivering messages in person, and by letters from government and military officials of Canada and the United States.

Canadian cabinet minster Ian Mackenzie, and the Secretary for the state of Alaska, E.L. Bartlett, cut the ribbon which was stretched across the highway. Two American military bands, which had been huddling in a tent to keep their instruments warm, played God Save the King, The Star Spangled Banner and The Maple Leaf Forever.

The Alaska Highway, really little more than a pioneer trail, was open. But it would be years and millions of dollars before the road could really be called a highway.


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.