Yukon Register of Historic PlacesYRHP

Watson Lake Air Terminal Building

Watson Lake Air Terminal Building

Watson Lake Air Terminal Building

Watson Lake Air Terminal Building

Watson Lake Air Terminal Building

Watson Lake Air Terminal Building

Watson Lake Air Terminal Building

Cultural History

Watson Lake was part of the North West Staging Route, an airway initially developed by Canada as a peace time project and later expanded with assistance from the United States during World War II. The North West Staging Route was used to ferry military aircraft from Edmonton to Fairbanks, Alaska by American pilots. Part of the lend lease program between the United States and Russia, the US provided fighter planes and bombers to the USSR to assist them in the war with Germany. The Watson Lake Air Terminal Building is one of the last remaining structures from this period. It's unique log exterior is similar to the Air Terminal Buildings that were at Snag and Aishihik, Yukon. The original observation tower and roof were also comparable to the ATB at Snag.

The Watson Lake airport was a re-fuelling stop for the short distance military aircraft. Because of this, the runway was lengthened, and finished with a hard surface, the ATB had a higher tower constructed, and the first floor was expanded. Radio communication, meteorological facilities, runway lighting, and navigational aids were installed. After the war, the airfield continued to be used, serving miners, loggers, and prospectors in the area. Canadian Pacific ran scheduled flights from Watson Lake on a regular basis until the late 1990s. The Watson Lake Terminal is the oldest non-residential structure built for the Northwest Staging Route still used for its original function. The Watson Lake Hangar is privately owned and used for airplane storage and maintenance, however it was constructed in 1943, one year later than the ATB. The Watson Lake Air Terminal Building is a landmark for the town of Watson Lake, as it is one of the earliest buildings in the area. The town of Watson Lake was built around the construction of the airport and the Alaska Highway. The ATB is the oldest public building in the area and provides an attraction for the tourists travelling on the Alaska Highway and a sense of pride in the community.

See report in file for extensive information -FHBRO reveiw