Canol was highly controversial despite the general state of wartime secrecy and expediency. The U.S. Army proceeded with the construction of roads and airfields in the Mackenzie Basin without obtaining clearance from Ottawa or Washington. The Canadian government was more absorbed with the war overseas than with events in the Northwest. Some Canadian officials suspected that the development of roads, airports and oil resources were for postwar American commercial use. Canada was placed in an awkward position as all the northern projects were being financed by the United States to secure the defence of North America.
There was controversy in the United States as well. The Truman Committee investigating the National Defence Program in October and November 1943 exposed the hasty manner in which the Canol project was started. There was no planning or consultation in the area of fuel needs or the problems of supply or construction in such a remote area. The original cost, estimated at $25,000,000, had escalated to over 5 times that figure (not including the cost of the armed forces) and the Army was charged with squandering American taxpayers’ money.
Tommy Campbell’s trucks .... (view more details)
The Canol refinery in Whitehorse... (view more details)
The Truman Committee hearings gave the Canadian government the information and motivation to buy back the Northwest Staging Route airports and then to negotiate for postwar disposal of the Canol facilities.