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Highlights

Highlights

Celebrating Yesterday

Celebrating Yesterday

It was a true engineering wonder of its time. Nearly 3,700 kilometres of steel pipe — pushed through some of the toughest terrain in Canada.

Up to 5,000 workers persevered through a multitude of obstacles, often under extremely adverse conditions, to build what would be the world's longest pipeline.

In 2008, TransCanada's Canadian Mainline celebrated 50 years of history — recognizing a milestone anniversary of the final weld on the first pipeline system designed to deliver Alberta natural gas to markets in Ontario and Quebec.

Construction of the Mainline's western leg began on June 17, 1956 at Burstall, Saskatchewan. Natural gas reached the cities of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Regina, Saskatchewan on the Canadian Prairies in September 1957. Workers pushed on, challenged by the terrain and the remoteness of thepostage stamp land — moving about one kilometre a day across Ontario and, finally into Quebec. The final weld on the pipeline took place in Kapuskasing, Ontario on October 10, 1958.

To commemorate the event, Canada Post and TransCanada unveiled a special edition Canadian postage stamp, depicting a single, anonymous welder representing thousands of labourers who worked to complete the historic pipeline.

A little known fact — a silver dollar was welded to the pipe in that location. That silver dollar is now on display at TransCanada's head office in Calgary, Alberta.

Canadian Mainline Construction Facts

  • $375 million original cost.
  • 655,000 tons of pipe carried by 25,000 railway cars.
  • 184 lakes and rivers crossed.
  • Permission needed from more than 5,000 landowners.
  • Swamp-like muskeg swallowed vehicles up to their door handles.
  • Impenetrable rock that took up to 30,000 sticks of dynamite per kilometre to dislodge.
  • Workers faced bone-numbing winters and mosquito-infested summers.
  • Rain, mud, snow and ice were the yearly challenges faced by crews.