Mile One Stadium in St Jonh's NewfoundlandThe Trans Canada Highway between Victoria (BC) and St. John’s (NL) is the world’s longest national highway with a length of 7,821 km (4,860 mi.

We get protests from Australians, who argue their highway 1 national highway takes a circular route of 14,500 km around the coast of their island/continent nation is longer, but there are plenty of shortcuts (which Canada does not have). And lastly, the furthest one point is from the other extreme never gets close to the Trans Canada Highway’s distance. Not. Even. Close.

Start Point and End Point (or the other way around?)

Mile Zero At Dallas Road in Victoria, British ColumbiaAlthough there does not appear to be any nationally sanctioned “starting point” for the entire Trans Canada Highway system, St. John’shas adopted this designation for the section of highway running in the city (down to the harbourfront) by using the term “Mile One” for its sports stadium and convention centre complex, Mile One Centre.

Most of the highway is numbered Highway 1, at least across British Columbia and the Prairies, and again in Newfoundland and Labrador (Geography note: “Newfoundland” alone refers to just the Island, but the province is named for both parts, including the mainland portion, Labrador).

At the other end, the Victoria terminus of the Trans Canada Highway, located at the foot of Douglas Street and Dallas Road at Beacon Hill Park, is marked by a “mile zero” monument.

Metric Mess-Up or What?

Canada and the Trans Canada Highway have been metric since 1977, so everything should maybe reference kilometer zero. Or we conclude metric conversion is messed up if the distance from “Mile Zero” to “Mile One” is almost 8,000 kilometres.

Winnipeg-Centre of Canada billboard-sliver

Winnipeg-Centre of Canada billboard-sliver

Trans Canada Highway Midpoint

Halfway point on the TransCanada highway at Batchwana Bay, OntarioThe midpoint of the Trans-Canada, marking halfway along its journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific is at a market at Batchwana Bay, north of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario (photo at right).

If yoaure adriving across Canada, you’ll also pass the centre of Canada (east-west distance, as the crow files, between the oceans) just east of Winnipeg (photo above), near Steinbach. And yes, in Canada, we spell it “centre” not “center”, which is the American spelling.

Tofino IS NOT the Western Terminus

Sign incorrrectly proclaiming the end of the highway in Tofino, British Columbia

The western endpoint of the Trans-Canada highway IS NOT IN TOFINO. This plaque was placed overlooking the Pacific Ocean by the town council of Tofino back in 1909, to spur the construction of the Trans Canada Highway. They had the vain hope that the highway would go from the eastern shore of Canada (which at that time did not yet include Newfoundland) to the westernmost point along the Pacific (which even today, is not Tofino).

Instead, in the 1950s, the planners and politicians (along with the accountants figuring out the costs) decided to build the highway to connect major population centres across Canada (notably, skipping Toronto, which IS NOT on the Trans-Canada).

In British Columbia, the Trans Canada Highway route took the shortest ferry ride to the Island from Vancouver to Nanaimo, and then turned the highway south to the provincial capital of Victoria, instead of veering west to Tofino. The road to Tofino remained a little-used logging road, and did not get paved until over a decade later.

Tofino Waterfront-sliver

Tofino Waterfront-sliver

Does That Distance Count Ferry Rides?

No, that distance does not count the ferry rides. Becuase your car, camper, RV, or truck odometer does not move when parked on or under the ferry deck.

There are three crucial ferry rides along the Trans-CanadaHighway:

Ferry to-from Vancouver Island

The ride to Vancover Island might be 1 or 2 hours depending on which BC Ferry you take: Horseshoe Bay – Nanaimo, Horseshoe Bay – Swartz Bay (Sidney/Victoria), Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay, or Tsawwassen-Nanaimo. For more BC Ferries details.

And, if you are taking the Yellowhead Route #16, there is an 8 hour ferry ride from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwai (formerly the “Queen Charlotte Islands”).

Ferry to-from PEI

When  visiting PEI, many visitors take the Confederation Bridge (a short distance away from Moncton, NB) in one direction, and the Northumberland Ferry the other direction (Pictou, near New Glasgow, NS) and from there on to Cape Breton and North Sydney or a short detour to Halifax.

Ferry to-from Newfoundland

You may or may not have a choice of ferries, depending on what time of year you are travelling. The year-round ferry takes a 6 hour route between North Sydney, NS and Channel-Port-aux-Basques, NL (or “Port-aux-Basques” for short, pronounced “PORT oh basks”) which is the shortest route between the Island and the Trans-Canada. In the Summer (roughly June through September) there is a second ferry taking a 12 hour route between North Sydney, NS and Argentia, NL which is a short drive from St John’s, which makes for a nice “circle route” around Newfoundland. In the Fall, Winter, and Spring visitors must drive the 1000 kilometres to St John’s and back to catch the ferry at Port aux Basques. More about the Newfoundland Ferries.