As far as the Trans-Canada Yellowhead Highway Association is concerned, the Coquihalla will always be remembered, just as Rogers Pass is.
But his group still wants to see the highway marked as a part of the Yellowhead system as well.
In fact, executive director Don Grimble said Thursday, the association is in the midst of creating new signs for the highway from Winnipeg to Masset to Hope that includes a maple leaf, the Yellowhead symbol and the highway number.
The new ones would replace old signs as they get worn and weathered.
Last week, Merritt Mayor Susan Roline raised concern with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board that the signs could result in people identifying the stretch between Kamloops and Hope as the Yellowhead and not the Coquihalla.
Others like Merritt resident Elmer Reimer are worried the history of the engineering that went into the creation of that highway will disappear with the name.
“As far as my sense of history was, ever since the Coq was constructed, it was an extension of Highway 5 and Highway 5 has always been part of the Yellowhead,” he said in a phone interview from Edmonton.
“I think the Coquihalla has an identification, an icon status that no one can change.”
The group lobbies for improvements to the highway as well as marketing it for tourists. Grimble said the association had Parliament proclaim the Yellowhead from B.C. to Winnipeg as another “trans-Canada highway” in addition to Highway 1.
Most of the Yellowhead consists of Highway 16, but there’s a branch that includes Highway 5 through Kamloops and down to Hope. Grimble said his association has been working to promote the higway for tourism for 66 years.
“We’re trying to brand our product and sell our product for all our communities from Winnipeg to Masset,” he said.
“We publish stuff, we advertise. The route is different from a destination, in some respects. We’re trying to brand it so people feel confident using the highway.”
Herb Graham, the TNRD’s representative on the association, said the sign changes won’t have a negative impact on the Nicola Valley or any of the rest of the route.
“I’ve been on the association for eight years for the TNRD. The Yellowhead traffic comes through Merritt. Why not use it as a symbol? It’s still number 5 highway,” he said.
“I still believe the Yellowhead association is good for bringing tourists. I think all the small communities on the Yellowhead Highway are in favour of it.”