Monday, May 16, 2016

Maurice Belair and the Coquihalla Highway

2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the completion of the first phase of the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia, Canada. The new highway was “carved out of some of the toughest, most daunting terrain in British Columbia”. [1] It cost $375,000,000 and took nearly two years to build. [2]

View of the unfinished Coquihalla Highway
View of the unfinished Coquihalla Highway from Maurice's truck (ca 1985)

My late father Maurice Belair was one of the 1000s of men and women who worked on that project from 1984 to 1986. He and his trusty Mack dump truck worked on Phase 1 (Hope to Merritt) of the 120 km (about 74.5 miles) toll highway. [3]

Mack dump truck on unfinished Coquihalla Highway
Maurice's dump truck on the unfinished Coquihalla Highway (ca 1985)

In early May 1986, Dad received a letter from the Ministry of Transportation and Highways (MOTH) to thank him for his “contribution in helping build the Coquihalla Highway”.

MOTH letter to Maurice Belair

We still have the letter, but the pin seems to be missing. I know that I didn’t attend the official opening on 16 May 1986, but I can’t remember if Dad did.

Sources:

1. “Coquihalla: more than just a new highway”, The Hope (British Columbia) Standard, 14 May 1986, p. 4.

2. “Paving starts in spring”, The Hope (British Columbia) Standard, 8 January 1986, p. 3.

3. “Paving starts in spring”, The Hope Standard, 8 January 1986.

Copyright (c) 2016, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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