Valemount Community Album

Yellowhead Highway

The railway came through first, in 1914, but the pressure for road travel was fast behind. By 1916 Valemount had its first motor vehicle, modified as a truck to haul lumber for the Kennedy and Moore mill. It operated on a plank road but it was an indication of what was to come.

The Edmonton Automobile and Good Roads Association was seeking a northern route to the coast through the Yellowhead Pass. It was suggested that the abandoned Grand Trunk railway grade might serve as the base for a highway. A gold medal was offered for the first driver to go from Edmonton to Victoria on rubber through the Yellowhead Pass and Kamloops.

Charles Neimeyer and his mechanic Frank Silverthorne took up the challenge. Sponsored by Lines Motors of Edmonton and driving an Overland Four from Lines, they left Edmonton on June 17, 1922. They bridged creeks and made corduroy roadbed and made Jasper on June 23rd. Most accounts credit the Overland team with being the first to drive a car into Jasper.

George F. Gordon and J.E. Sims left Edmonton with a 1921 Model T Ford pickup on June 22, 1922, racing the Overland company. He passed the Overland people somewhere before Kamloops, benefiting from some of the road construction done by the Overland team. He drove over many railway trestles and “all told we drove seventy-seven miles on railway ties.”

Both vehicles reached Victoria on July 4th, taking different ferries to the island. Gordon was presented with a cheque for $500 and both teams received medals, a gold wheel with a thick bar across the centre. Gordon’s said “Awarded to George F. Gordon, pathfinder, first automobile from Edmonton to Victoria via Jasper and the Yellowhead Pass.”

In the 1930s Depression work camps improved several sections of the sometimes sketchy trail. During World War II internment camps for displaced Japanese Canadians were established at Lucerne, Albreda, Red Pass, Tete Jaune Cache and other places. The Japanese also built road and upgraded bridges on the Yellowhead Highway.

Completion of the Yellowhead and Highway Five changed the relationship to the railroad. Bus service from Edmonton to Kamloops commenced in 1968. Increasingly heavy truck traffic took on the imports and exports from the region. Today tourism is vigorously promoted in the region and Valemount is experiencing the growth of tourist-related services.

First Motor Vehicle in Valemount 1916
First motor vehicle in Valemount, full of children and adults. Owned by the Kennedy and Moore sawmill it was used…
Yellowhead Highway Accident 1922
"We had a small accident!" The sign on the boulder says, Pathfinding Car Edmonton to Victoria via Jasper and Kamloops…
Yellowhead Highway Association
Trying to find the overland route. Yellowhead Highway Association; Sign says, Pathfinding Car Edmonton to Victoria via Jasper and Kamloops…
Yellowhead Highway Association
"A little trouble along the way!" Putting the pathfinding car back on the rudimentary track. Exploring for the Yellowhead Highway…