B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is offering viewers a trip down memory lane as it shares vintage videos capturing Vancouver Island highways over 50 years ago.
The BC Road Trip Machine video series is now posted on TranBC’s website and was captured throughout 1966, when the ministry was called the Highways Department.
Rigging a camera to a car’s dash, the department created a visual record of all 9,000 kilometres of B.C.’s roads — from Fort St. John to Vancouver Island north, including local shots from Swartz Bay past the Malahat to Kelsey Bay near Sayward.
The camera took still images every 26 metres and put them together as a single film photolog, saving engineers time to monitor road conditions and plan safety improvements without having to travel, according to TranBC.
Combing off-site archives and resurrecting old-school tech in recent years, the ministry recovered the 16 mm film reels and slowed them down to 30 per cent of their actual speed for easier viewing.
While TranBC now uses a specialized van called an automatic road analyzer with computers, lasers, GPS and high-definition cameras to collect information about highways, the videos from the 60s offer some a glimpse of the past and others a flood of memories.
The Malahat (Victoria to Duncan)
TranBC’s Malahat video was the first of the series and captures the well-known Highway 1 route starting near McKenzie Avenue in Victoria through Langford, along Goldstream and up the Malahat toward the Cowichan Valley.
Victoria to Swartz Bay terminal
TranBC’s Victoria to Swartz Bay video captures Highway 17 (Patricia Bay Highway) starting on Douglas Street near Carey Road and ending at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal north of Sidney.
Ucluelet to Tofino, Junction to Parksville
TranBC’s over 20-minute-long Ucluelet to Tofino, Junction to Parksville video captures Vancouver Island’s west coast via Tofino Road, passing through Long Beach and downtown Tofino while accessing Port Alberni via the then-unpaved Highway 4 (Pacific Rim Highway).
Duncan to Kelsey Bay (north of Sayward)
TranBC’s Duncan to Kelsey Bay flashback is split into three separate videos capturing both Highway 1 and Highway 19. The first video takes viewers from Duncan to Parksville, while the second spans Parksville to Campbell River and the third, Campbell River to Kelsey Bay.
Viewers can find the complete BC Road Trip Machine video series online here.