regarding recognition for guides of the alaska highway and canol road

This photograph is of Liard Tom and wife Ada outside their cabin beside the Liard River on their trapline located 18 miles upriver from the Upper Liard Bridge.

This photograph is of Liard Tom and wife Ada outside their cabin beside the Liard River on their trapline located 18 miles upriver from the Upper Liard Bridge. Eighty-three-year-old Angela Carlick hopes to see recognition for her dad, Liard Tom, for guiding the US army surveyors, “showing them where to go” while surveying the route of the Alaska Highway.

I certainly believe credit should be given to Liard Tom for his effort and many people do.

As the email from Art Johns points out, other First Nation guides should also be credited for their effort. All the guides should be recognized for their contribution. As Angela Carlick recently mentioned, “They are special people, those who know the land.”

I appreciate the help of Roy Carlick, Angela’s son, for his input. Also, many thanks to Art Johns of Tagish for his interesting email, and thanks to Pat Ellis of Whitehorse for her letter.


Liard Tom should be recognized for his contribution in guiding the army surveyors.

“He was a nice man! When he was an old man, he walked straight up to me and called me by name.”

He called Art’s father, Johnny Johns, his “brother.” According to Art, the lead native guide from Teslin referred to in the story would be Watson Smarch, who worked as far as Liard. Johnny Johns guided the army from Carcross to Teslin and scouted the highway on old native trails. He had to get back to his hunting clients and sent horses to Watson (Smarch).

Art Johns


I support the idea that we should honour those First Nation guides who worked on the Alaska Highway project as well as the Canol project, two remarkable stories from the Second World War.

In my book The Canol Adventures I covered a remarkable story given to me by Alex Van Bibber about his trip as guide taking horses to Ross River in the late fall of 1942. Then midwinter, he took a US engineer from Mayo to Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, to check into an alternate route.

It was a 42-day trip with five men and three dog teams, in 50 to 60 below weather.

Others were:

Lonny Johnny, Albert Pelland, Norman and Kaiser Mervyn. Also, Arthur John of Ross River helped guide the surveyors.

Pat Ellis

P.S. This history should be on display yearly during Remembrance Day – the day to remember.

Anyone with information about this subject, please write Jim Robb: The Colourful Five Per Cent Scrapbook – Can You Identify? c/o the Yukon News, 211 Wood Street, Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2E4, or email through the News website,

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