Motorists travel on a rural road framed by trees beginning to change colour, near Smithers, B.C., on Tuesday Sept. 26, 2017. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada’s publicly owned road network is over 1 million km in length

Canada’s publicly owned two-lane road network stretches over 1,066,180 kilometres, according to a new survey of the nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels released Monday by Statistics Canada.

To put that in perspective, the distance between the Earth and the Moon is 384,400 kilometres.

According to the national statistics agency, local roads were the most prevalent road type in Canada in 2018, accounting for 58.6 per cent of total road length and 69.5 per cent of all municipally owned roads.

The prairie province of Saskatchewan had the highest volume of local roads in Canada (27.3 per cent), followed by neighbouring Alberta (20 per cent) and Ontario (18.7 per cent).

Highways, excluding rural highways, comprised 4.8 per cent of all roads. Statistics Canada defines highways as roads that move high volumes of traffic and have controlled entrances and exits, with a strip that divides traffic travelling in opposite directions.

Rural highways accounted for 8.9 per cent (94,443 kilometres) of all roads. These types of highways move varied volumes of traffic at medium to high speeds and usually don’t have a dividing strip, allowing for direct access from other local roads.

However, in Canada’s sparsely populated northern territories of Yukon and the Northwest Territories most roads were highways. More than two-thirds of Yukon’s roads (68.5 per cent) were highways and almost three-quarters of N.W.T. roads (74.5 per cent), according to the survey.

But in the Arctic territory of Nunavut, where all of the communities are scattered across numerous islands and the mainland and are accessible only by air or by sea, only 3.5 per cent of the roads were highways.

In fact, Canada’s National Highway System spans every province and territory except Nunavut, the survey shows.

According to, despite being the world’s second largest country, Canada is in the seventh place behind the U.S., China, India, Russia and even Japan when it comes to the length of its road network.

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