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Canol Pipeline archival collections

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The Canol Pipeline, built during World War II, was in Canada although its construction was overseen by American troops between the years of 1942-1944.  It runs from the Norman Wells oil fields in the Northwest Territories to Whitehorse, Yukon.  An oil refinery was built in Whitehorse to process the crude oil that ran through the 4 inch-diameter pipes.  The Canol Road and a corresponding telegraph line were also constructed at this time to service the oil pipeline, which was in use until April 1945. The Canol Pipeline’s route extended for 297 miles, and the north end, renamed the Canol Heritage Trail, is currently open for hiking.

For collections held by other archives, in both the United States and Canada, related to construction of the Canol Pipeline, please visit the guide to Canol Pipeline construction primary sources on Alaska's Statewide Library Electronic Doorway (SLED).

The following collections deal primarily with the early construction of the Canol Pipeline. Follow the links to collection descriptions and inventories. You can keyword search all of our collection descriptions and inventories by using the search box available on each of the pages below.

Charles W. Arvidson photographs; 1943-1947.  HMC-0567. Photographs taken during the construction of the Canol Pipeline. Subjects include construction camps along the Canol Road, welding crews working on the pipeline, a crew erecting telegraph poles, and area scenery. Camps identified include those at Johnson’s Crossing and miles 127, 177, 236, 268, and 276 of the pipeline or road.

Charles V. Baxter papers; undated, 1943-1945.  HMC-1033-AHS. Canol Pipeline-related papers and photographs of Charles V. Baxter. The collection contains: technical information concerning the Canol Pipeline, reports and charts of pumping, tanks, gas, and water flow kept by Baxter.  Subjects of the photographs include winter and summer conditions along the pipeline, construction camps, equipment, work crews, heavy equipment, bridges, and geographic features of the surrounding area. Photographs and post cards of an engineer are also included.

Omer D. Clark Canol Pipeline construction photographs; 1943-1944.  HMC-0642. Photographs of the construction of the Canol Pipeline construction including photographs of scenery, workers, construction camps, vehicles, heavy machinery, barges, boats, airplanes, and bridges, as well as oil drilling and storage facilities. Most of the photographs are from numbered sets of prints.

John Andrew Higgins papers; 1914-1950, bulk 1942-1946.  HMC-0538. The 63 page scrapbook contains clippings, photographs, and personal items concerning Higgins’ activities from 1942-1946.  The 158 photographs and 6 negatives include scenes from the building of the Alaska Highway; coworkers, construction and supply facilities, and the CANOL oil refinery in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.  Also included are images of Camp Canol, Whitehorse, and other scenic images of the Whitehorse area.

Robert and Wilma Knox papers; 1949-2001. HMC-0461.The collection consists of clipping and scrapbooks, photographs, publications, and other materials documenting Robert and Wilma Knox’s life and journalism work in Alaska and elsewhere. The collection includes photographs of the Canol Road, most likely taken in the early 1970s.

William L. Matthews papers; undated, 1944. HMC-1043-AHS.The collection contains photographs and a letter relating to the Canol Pipeline construction.The photographs consist of original black and white prints, including panoramic views, as well as colored and black and white commercial prints and photo postcards. It also includes a letter written from Bechtel-Price-Callahan to William L. Matthews, dated July 1, 1944, commending him for his efforts in the Canol Pipeline construction with an “Award of Service.”

Jerome F. Sheldon papers; 1885-1994. HMC-0220.Correspondence mentioning the Canol Pipeline project from news editor Jerome Sheldon who also worked on building the Alaska Highway, dated 1981 & 1985.

C. Wilbert Alaska Highway construction photographs; circa 1943-1945. HMC-0494. This collection documents the construction of the Alaska Highway in the 1940s. Several photographs were taken along the Canol Road at Dodo Canyon and Camp Canol.

Betzi and Lyman Woodman papers; 1898-1999. HMC-0353. The collection contains the personal papers, writing files, and photographs of Alaskan journalists and free-lance writers, Betzi and Lyman Woodman. Included in the collection are writing drafts, notes, correspondence, subject files related to their various projects and publications, and sound recordings. The photographs and slides contain images of the Canol pipeline, a draft of a historical article, and a copy of an Army Corps of Engineers report on the project.

This guide was developed in 2017 by Archives and Special Collections intern, Amber McKenna.

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