Canol Trail Remediation Project

An old wooden building along the Canol Trail. White tarps mark off an area that has been decontaminated and yellow hazardous waste bags are stacked in front of the building. Mountains are in the background.



The Canol Trail was used as part of the CANOL (Canadian Oil) Project, a cooperative effort of the United States and Canada during the Second World War to supply crude oil from Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, to Whitehorse, Yukon. Local Dene and Métis people were instrumental to the project in identifying the viable route across the rough terrain.

Oil flowed through the pipeline for about a year, starting in April 1944. Several salvage operations on the abandoned project have been conducted, but remnants of it remain along the trail.

The goal of the Canol Trail Remediation Project is to reduce major environmental and human health risks associated with the abandoned pipeline and related infrastructure.

Remediation activities began in 2018, with an expected completion date of March 31, 2020. As part of the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) procedures, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) will monitor the site once remediation is complete to ensure the clean-up work is effective.

What’s next?

Remediation activities will resume along the Canol Trail in June 2019. Crews will work in the area east of Mile 222 near the Yukon border. During this time, be aware of increased helicopter traffic in the area and activities on the ground. Please give crews the necessary space to safely complete remediation activities.

For your added safety, please notify the Project Team if you plan to travel along the trail during this time by calling +1 (867) 669-2461.

What work has been done?

From June to September 2018, between Doi T’oh Canyon and Mile 160, the Project Team:
  • Demolished and consolidated debris from 96 buildings
  • Removed 63 drums of petroleum product
  • Consolidated 2,100 empty drums into caches
  • Dismantled 3 bridges
  • Boarded up 9 buildings to prevent access
  • Removed 34 batteries
  • Removed 50 cubic meters of asbestos
  • Excavated and contained 100 cubic meters of contaminated soil
  • Cleaned 10 above-ground storage tanks
  • Removed glass from 116 vehicles
  • Removed fluids from 121 vehicles
  • Removed 60 bags of telephone wire
  • Installed 39 warning signs
  • The Canol Trail Working Group reviewed the procurement process for the Canol Trail Remediation Project contract.
  • CIRNAC conducted an Archaeological Impact Assessment with the Sahtu Dene and Métis communities.
  • The Sahtu Land and Water Board approved the land use permit.
On August 24, 2017, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) awarded the contract for the Canol Trail Remediation Project to Englobe Corp. The contract, valued at $5.9 million, provides economic opportunities to the people of the Sahtu communities.
Remedial and risk management options were developed and the preferred options were selected by the Canol Trail Remediation Working Group. The Working Group includes:
  • PSPC
  • Tulita Dene Band
  • Tulita Land Corporation
  • Fort Norman Métis Land Corporation
  • Tulita Renewable Resources Council
  • Norman Wells Land Corporation
  • Norman Wells Renewable Resources Council
  • Sahtu Renewable Resource Board
  • Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT):
    • Industry Tourism and Investment (ITI)
    • Environment and Natural Resources (ENR)
  • Conducted aerial and ground review of the trail.
  • Compiled inventory of abandoned waste materials and areas of concern.
  • Completed environment site assessments at several sites.
  • Completed Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment.

Wire cleanup

In addition to remediation activities that fall under the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP), the Government of Canada has provided funding for a program to remove telegraph wire that endangered wildlife along the Canol Trail.

A caribou skull and antler entangled in telegraph wire in a field of tall grass are held up by a crew member on an overcast day.


In addition to remediation activities that fall under the FCSAP, the Government of Canada has provided funding for a program to remove telegraph wire that endangered wildlife along the Canol Trail.

In 2015, CIRNAC provided funding for community capacity building and wire clean-up for 116 km of the trail, in partnership with the GNWT and the Doi T’oh Territorial Park Corporation (DTPC). In 2016, CIRNAC funded further work and participants cleared wire from 126 km of the most challenging terrain on the trail. The wire was cut and stock-piled in key locations to facilitate future removal. This program provided local workers with training in project management, field operations and occupational health and safety.

This program continued in 2017 and successfully removed an additional 129 km of wire. In total over the three-year program, wire was removed from over 322 km along the Canol Trail. This was enough to fill 75 environment bags, which have been collected and securely stored for disposal.

Territorial Park

The Canol Trail is located in the Sahtu settlement area. In 2015, the Doi T’oh Territorial Park Corporation (DTPC) was formed to work with the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) to plan and manage a Territorial Park to be created pursuant to clause 17.3 of the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement.

Members of the DTPC include:

CIRNAC meets regularly with the Canol Trail Remediation Working Group and the GNWT to share information and complete work that could support potential park development in the future.

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