eat. History

Dawson Creek Airport

History

Dawson Creek, Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, is located 591 kilometers northeast of Edmonton and 2,543 kilometers southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Dawson Creek is named after geologist George Mercer Dawson, who in 1879 was mapping the northeast country seeking the most feasible route to the west coast for the CNR. The creek came to be known as Dawson’s when a town site was developed and adopted the name “Dawson Creek”.

In early 1939 Dawson Creek’s licensed airstrip was located in town at the present location of the Northern Lights College. It originated as a grass strip, and was gradually improved to military standards. It was used as an emergency landing strip during the establishment of the Northwest Staging Route and 1942 construction of the Alaska Highway by the American Army.

Because Dawson Creek was “the end of steel”, all troops and equipment were dropped off and construction of the Alaska Highway commenced in Dawson Creek. The road not only opened an outlet to the North, but provided the first real transportation artery within the region.

The importance of Dawson Creek as an oil supply and service centre during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s caused municipal authorities to express concern that no regular air service was available to the city. On June 14th, 1958 the airport in town was closed and the existing site opened (approximately 7 kilometers east of City Centre).

The City of Dawson Creek has operated the municipal airport under a head lease arrangement since the early 1960’s. This arrangement has been beneficial for both parties.

In 1962 Pacific Western Airlines applied for a license to operate into Dawson Creek. The license was approved and service began in 1963. Pacific Western Airlines/Canadian Airlines operated in Dawson Creek for 25 years.

A 5,000 foot (1,524 meter) Float Plane Base, which was licensed in 1964, runs parallel to the existing runway. Mayor “Bob” Trail was the initiator of this facility. Long lagoons adjacent to the airfield were transformed into a Float Plane facility under his direction. There are surrounding lakes for float planes; however, they can only be serviced in Dawson Creek.

In 1966 the main runway at the Dawson Creek Airport was paved, allowing the airport to accommodate small jets and large turbo-prop aircraft. Planning began in 1966 for a new terminal building which opened in 1970.

In 1984 the new airport firehall was completed. (The previous firehall consisted of an Atco trailer attached to the maintenance garage.)

In 1991 the Flight Service Station cab was built. The Transport Canada FSS employees gladly moved into the modern three storey building as their previous office was 12’x12’ located in the terminal building. In 1992 an addition, consisting of a spacious holdroom and cafĂ©, was built onto the existing terminal building.

The FSS was out of service in 2005, and it is now where the airport manager’s office located.