- May 2017
Designed during the first months of World War II, the Canol Pipeline brought oil from Norman Wells near the Mackenzie River to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Once the oil was refined, it would be sent to Alaska via pipeline to ensure that the Japanese navy could not intercept any transport. The oil deposits at Norman Wells were discovered by the explorer Alexander Mackenzie during the 18th century. In January of 1942, Lieutenant General Brehon Somervell, commanding general of the Army Service Forces, ordered James H. Graham, former dean of engineering at the University of Kentucky, to investigate the possibility of harvesting oil from Norman Wells. On April 29, 1942, General Somervell immediately approved the recommendation of Dean Graham to implement a pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse (O'Brien, 1970). The construction began in 1942 and was completed in 1944 by the United States Army. A road was also constructed alongside the Canol pipeline during this time. In 1945, soon after the completion of the Canol Pipeline, the volume of crude oil that was able to be transported compared to the cost of operating the pipeline could not be justified. The Canol Pipeline was shut down and abandoned in 1945 (Wilson, 1991).
O'Brien, C. F. (1970). The Canol Project: A Study in Emergency Military Planning. The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 101-108.
Wilson, W. H. (1991). Review: A Walk on teh Canol Road: Exploring the First Major Northern Pipeline. The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 114.