In 1948 the Government of Canada initiated legislation to provide for a highway to be built across Canada from East to West.
Newfoundland entered into an agreement with the Government of Canada in 1950 for the construction of its section of the highway. The original agreement provided for fifty-fifty cost sharing between the two Governments and the project was to be completed by 1956. This, however, became only one of four agreements before the highway was completed.The final agreement was signed in 1964 and the Government of Canada agreed to pay ninety per cent of the cost.
The slogan "We'll finish the Drive in '65 thanks to Mr. Pearson" was adopted.
It was completed in 1965 at a cost of $120,000,000.
The highway was 565 miles long, running from St. John's to Port aux Basques.
It contained eighty-five bridges and overpasses.
The highway was officially opened by Premier Smallwood with a motor cavalcade from St. John's to Port au Basques. Half-way across the Island he was met by the Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson who officially opened the road. A memorial was unveiled at Grand Falls by Pearson and named in his honour "Pearson's Peak."