Snapshots in Time: Who is the “Highways Department”?

If you’ve visited us here before, you probably know that sometimes, we like to kick it old school.
We throw it back here, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with pictures, video and stories about how the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure helped play a role in the development of beautiful British Columbia.

We’re proud of our history.  In fact, some of our older ministry staffers refer to “Highways Department” folks (our old name), as bleeding orange and white – a reference to the days when our crews travelled highways and byways in orange and white trucks, day in and out, “getting ‘er done”.

We recently reviewed some of our old employee newsletter photographs and found some amazing shots we just had to share. These pictures date back to the 1950s, 60s and 70s and highlight the men and woman who worked tirelessly to shape and refine the BC Highway system we know today, as well as some amazing shots of the work they did.


Lions Gate nighttime bridge deck replacement, late 1970s. The power. The action. The pants.


Our sign shop crew made sure all highways were properly signed for the safety of the travelling public (and they looked cool doing it too).


Break time! This snap of a local road crew was taken in in the late 1960s in the Lillooet area.


Sometimes, in order to build a road, we needed to fly there first. This is the plane our staff used in the 1960s to access those hard to reach places. Coolness factor: a zillion.


Road maintenance as seen from the front seat of a grader, circa 1967.


Probably one of our favourites. This shot dates back to approximately 1950, when we were called the Department of Public Works. We became the Department of Highways in 1956 and stayed that way until 1974. A series of variations on the highways theme followed, until Transportation entered the name game in the 1980s.


This is one WIDE LOAD. Our bridge folks informed us that this is a timber truss bridge. This shot shows it being moved to the Revelstoke Area, in the late 1950s.


Back in the day, our traffic engineers travelled BC highways with ball bank indicators attached to the dashes of cars to determine if curve advisory signs were needed. If the ball banked to the left or right past a certain point, a sign was required.


Who me? Oh, not much, just chilling by this curve advisory sign.



Yes, it’s true; we hired Wolverine to survey for us in the late 60s. Just kidding, this is one of our staff surveying a sight line for a new road.


This picture gets points for pure coolness. An engineer drafting – old school style. Located not far from our offices in Victoria today, this engineer is hard at work making sure designs are safe and sound for the travelling public, something which they still do today.


You might want to take a long, hard look at this shot. We sure did. And boy, were we impressed. The sheer scale of this bridge work makes us stand in awe at what those who came before us did.

Pretty cool stuff, huh? We thought you would like it.

And don’t worry, there’s more to come.

And if you can’t wait for more, you can check out our other, cool historic content listed below:

Let us know what you think of this or anything else we do in the comments below.

Page 1 of 25 comments on “Snapshots in Time: Who is the “Highways Department”?”

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  1. Great photos! And a very fine job of putting them up. I’m new to the MoT and this is a cool way to see the legacy of where I work.

  2. WOW!!!! Thanks so much for doing this! As a records geek myself, I know how many painstaking and mind-numbing hours it can be to “preserve our history”.

    BIG THANK-YOU to our Social Media Team! Love it!

  3. Bigmouth was the river south of Mica Cr not the name of the bridge. It was moved to Greeley to cross the Illicilewaet River. It lasted until CP rail took it out with a hiab that neglected to lower its boom before crossing