December 12, 2019

Watson Lake Terminal a Historic Site


The old terminal building at Watson Lake airport (CYQH) in the Yukon has been declared a historical site by the territorial government. Built in 1941-2 to serve traffic generated by transient aircraft along the Northwest Staging Route, it continues to serve as a terminal for local and transiting aircrew and passengers today.

Partially constructed with logs, the building has withstood the test of time. In its heyday, the terminal building saw many pilots and other aircrew on their way from the contiguous United States to Fairbanks, Alaska flying aircraft destined for the Soviet Union, then allies in the Second World War.

The terminal later served workers transported to and from the area during the construction of the Alaska Highway. In later years, the mining industry used the airport to ferry in and out workers attending mines in the area. Canadian Pacific Airlines/CP Air serviced the community with scheduled passenger service using Boeing 737s in the 1970s, with routes to Whitehorse, Edmonton, Vancouver and other points.

Since deregulation of the commercial aviation industry in the 1980s, various small regional airlines have served the airport, but none has been able to continue. Today only charter operators serve the community.

Photo by Susan Drury