Road into WawaWawa's connection to Sault Ste Marie Ontario was only limited in travel by rail or by steamboat. This final connection along the Eastern shores of Lake Superior was finally complete in 1960 where travellers are now treated to the shores of Lake Superior, or the vast colours of the forest through Lake Superior Provincial park.

Trans-Canada highway

Broadway Ave Road ParadeWawa is the site of the completion of the last link of the Lake Superior section of the Trans-Canada Highway. It was officially opened for traffic on September 17, 1960. Prior to 1960, the townspeople of Wawa traveled to and from their hometown via steamboat on Lake Superior (until 1941) or the Algoma Central Railway (after 1921).

From as early as 1920, residents of Wawa were promised “a road out” by provincial and federal officials (usually just before an election). By 1930 the highway stretched 110 km North of Sault Ste. Marie to Montreal River. During the Depression of the 1930's, hundreds of men worked on this section of roadway one foot at a time for 15 cents a day. During World War II, construction crews of conscientious objectors helped push the road to the Agawa River, and there it stopped, near the base of the Agawa Promontory, only 80 kms from Wawa. This massivemountain of ancient pre-Cambrian rock was deemed impassable and became known as “The Gap”.


Operation MichipicotenIn 1951, a publicity campaign known as “Operation Michipicoten” attempted to open the eyes of the media and southern politicians to the remoteness of the isolated Wawa townsfolk. Four men accustomed to bush travel followed the directions on a 1935 surveyors map from Wawa to Montreal River. They made regular reports via a portable radio and made the rugged overland trip in 17 days.

A rough 80-kilometre route from Agawa to Wawa was finally cut through the rock and vast forests of eastern Lake Superior in 1959. Unfortunately, this “road” was so rough that a trip to Sault Ste. Marie took 8 hours. Finally, after almost a decade, the 233 km stretch from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa was finally complete.


“September 17, 1960, will be the red-letter day in Wawa's future history for it marked the official opening of the magnificent Lakeshore Highway. Premier Frost, Transport Minister Hees, the Hon. Fred Cass, Hon. Bryan Cathcart, Harry Lyons M.P., and several other Members of Parliament journeyed to Wawa to officiate at the impressive ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremonies. Even the steady downpour of rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands, including many neighbours from south of the border, who came to help celebrate another milestone in the long and romantic history of Wawa and Michipicoten.” (Agnes Turcott, Land of the Big Goose, published 1962)

Wawa's Famous Goose

Old Wawa goose

As the highway was being completed, residents of Wawa noted that the route bypassed the town by a mile. A number of business owners decided that something was needed to redirect highway traffic into the community. Enter Al Turcott, Jerry Spreng, and Mel Phillips. These three instrumental citizens were the masterminds behind Wawa's iconic goose statue. They presented the idea to the Government, who were skeptical at first but eventually agreed to erect the base and plaque. The goose itself would be the responsibility of the residents of Wawa. Turcott funded the majority of the creation of the first Wawa Goose statue built by Mr. Koci using mostly chicken wire and plaster. The Goose was erected on September 17, 1960 during the official highway opening ceremonies.

The original goose lasted a mere three years., and a new goose was erected in 1963. Constructed of steel made with iron ore from the Helen Mine, the goose was built by Dick Vanderclift in Sault Ste. Marie with help from Algoma Steel. he original plaster goose currently stands on the site of Young's General Store on Mission Road.

New Wawa gooseAfter 54 years, the second Wawa Goose desperately needed to be replaced. Led by Lori Johnson, Wawa's Director of Recreation and Tourism for 25 years, funding applications were completed, donation campaigns were initiated, and businesses and citizens from far and wide contributed to the Wawa Goose Fund. The new goose was made by Research Casting International based out of Trenton. Made of stainless steel with a bronze coating in order to prevent rusting, our current Wawa Goose was unveiled on July 1, 2017 as part of the Canada 150 celebrations.