King's Highway 69, commonly referred to as Highway 69, is a major north–south highway in the central portion of the Canadian province of Ontario, linking Highway 400 north of Parry Sound with the city of Greater Sudbury at Highway 17. It is part of the Trans-Canada Highway and the National Highway System.
From its northerly terminus at Sudbury, the highway follows a wide urban arterial route for several kilometres before widening into a full freeway south of Crown Ridge. As of July 2016 this freeway segment extends south 49 km to a point 5 km north of the French River. From there, the route narrows to a two-lane highway to its southerly terminus, located three kilometres north of Highway 559 at Carling. At this terminus, the roadway widens back into a freeway and changes its designation to Highway 400. South of this point, various former alignments of Highway 69 remain in use as parts of Highway 400 or as county or local roads. The highway forms part of the Georgian Bay Route of the Trans-Canada Highway, which continues south along Highway 400.
Highway 69 was first designated in 1936 when the Department of Highways (DHO) assumed the Rama Road between Atherley and Washago. This short route was expanded the following year when the DHO merged with the Department of Northern Development and expanded the King's Highway network north of the Severn River. By the beginning of World War II, the route reached as far north as Britt; a separate segment connected the town of Burwash with Sudbury. However, the rationing of labour and materials due to the war effort resulted in these two sections remaining separated until the mid-1950s.
In 1976, several reroutings and renumbering took place in the Muskoka area. As a result, the portion of Highway 69 between Brechin and Foot's Bay was renumbered as Highway 169, while the entirety of Highway 103 between Coldwater and Foot's Bay was renumbered as Highway 69. Until the 1980s, the highway extended through Sudbury to Capreol, but was then truncated at a junction with Highway 17's route through Sudbury along what is now Municipal Road 55; this portion was subsequently truncated again in 1995 upon the completion of the Southwest and Southeast Bypasses, onto which Highway 17 was rerouted. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Highway 400 was gradually pushed north to its current terminus by twinning Highway 69, gradually truncating the southern end of the Highway 69 route.
Highway 69 is a major highway serving the recreational areas surrounding Georgian Bay and the Thirty-Thousand Islands, as well as providing the westernmost fixed connection between southern and northern Ontario; Highway 6 is located further west but requires the use of a ferry service. The highway occupies the northern half of a corridor that connects Toronto to Sudbury, with Highway 400 occupying the southern half. The route forms part of the Georgian Bay Route of the Trans-Canada Highway.
As of 2012, the highway begins just north of Exit 241 (Highway 559) on Highway 400. From here the route travels generally northward. Between Nobel and Sudbury, there are no large communities, although numerous small communities lie adjacent to the route, including Shawanaga, Pointe au Baril, Byng Inlet, Britt, Bigwood, Delamere and Estaire. South of Highway 64, the highway widens into a four-lane freeway extending most of the remaining distance to Sudbury, where the divided highway ends just south of Crown Ridge; from this point until the highway's final terminus in Sudbury, it remains a four-lane urban arterial road with a paved, rather than fully separated, median between the two carriageways.
Highway 69 has undergone several major changes during its existence, so much so that the first section designated has not been a King's Highway for 60 years and lay approximately 80 km (50 mi) from the current highway. In other places, a minor two lane gravel highway has gradually been upgraded to a four lane paved freeway. On August 5, 1936, the DHO assumed the Rama Road, connecting Highway 12 at Atherley with Highway 11 at Washago. On March 31, 1937, the Department of Northern Development (DND) was merged into the DHO, allowing the latter to extend the provincial highway network north of the Severn River. Subsequently, through August 1937, Highway 69 was extended 77.75 mi (125.13 km) north to the Naiscoot River, midway between Pointe au Baril and Britt. This extension followed DND trunk routes to Nobel, where a munitions and aircraft factory would soon provide an instrumental role in the war effort. In the north, the road connecting Sudbury and Burwash was also assumed as Highway 69 on August 11. It was intended to connect these two segments over the next several years; however, the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 halted all non-essential construction due to the short supply of labour and materials.
Work resumed during the 1950s to bridge the 60 km (37 mi) gap between the two sections of highway. In 1954, a further 29 km (18 mi) of roadway north of Britt was assumed as Highway 69. That same year also saw the rerouting of the southern end of the highway; the southern end was moved east from Atherley to Brechin and the Rama Road decommissioned as a King's Highway. The new routing was longer, but gave the southern end of the highway a more significant purpose than as a bypass of Highway 11. The Rama Road has since been known as Simcoe County Road 44.
Once the war ended, construction resumed on Highway 69. Paving and extending the road continued, with the first gap (between Britt and Burwash) being closed in 1951. French River would be linked to the provincial roadway network in 1952. This allowed motorists to take a far more direct route between Severn River and Sudbury, by taking advantage of a detour (via Highway 535 and Highway 64, through the small communities of Hagar and Noëlville).
The biggest gap that remained on Highway 69 was between Alban and Burwash, but this was eventually eliminated from 1952 to 1955, when the road was finally completed to provide a third link from Southern Ontario to Northern Ontario (the other two being Highways 11 and 17).
Until Highway 69 between Parry Sound and Sudbury was completed, drivers from Southern Ontario who wanted to reach Sudbury or Sault Ste. Marie had to travel along a rather out-of-the-way routing on Highway 11 to North Bay, and then take Highway 17 westbound into Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
The year 1976 saw big changes for Highway 69. The portion of highway south of MacTier was shifted onto the routing of former Highway 103, completely absorbing that roadway into its length. The former routing was renamed Highway 169. It was at this time that Highway 69 was at its longest, from Highways 12 and 400 near Port Severn to Sudbury.
Until the early 1980s, Highway 69 continued through Sudbury and into the suburban towns of Valley East and Capreol. Although this route is no longer part of the provincial highway, and is officially designated as a series of Sudbury Municipal Roads, it is referred to locally by some as "Highway 69 North".
Since 1989, Highway 400 has been extended gradually northward (at first as a freeway conversion of Highway 69's southernmost portion prior to renumbering) towards Sudbury, and now reaches Nobel.
From 2008 to 2012, however, the Highway 69 designation continued to a southerly terminus at MacTier, rather than Nobel — the two highways shared a routing for 32 kilometres between Nobel and Rankin Lake Road, and then followed separate routes between Rankin Lake Road and Highway 69's southern terminus near MacTier. Signs were posted along this route announcing that the segment from Rankin Lake Road to Mactier would be decommissioned as part of Highway 69 in summer 2012. The route's posted name is now Lake Joseph Road, although it remains part of the provincial highway system under an unsigned 7000-series designation.
Although early planning for an eventual four-lane highway started in 1969, the commitment to expand Highway 69 to a full freeway was originally made in 1991 by the New Democrat government of Bob Rae. Although construction did commence northward from Waubaushene at the highway's southern end, and planning studies were underway on the first 65 kilometres southward from Sudbury, the project was curtailed by the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris shortly after the 1995 provincial election, with construction ending at kilometre 225 in Parry Sound.
The city of Sudbury continued to lobby for the highway's expansion, calling attention especially to an ongoing series of fatal car accidents at the intersection of Highway 637, where a sharp S-curve in Highway 69's route rendered the approaching intersection effectively invisible to northbound traffic. Assisted by Rick Bartolucci, the Liberal MPP for Sudbury, the CRASH 69 (Community Rallying Against Substandard Highway 69) committee of Sudbury residents campaigned throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s to have the project reinstated. The revived construction to Sudbury was announced in 2002 by Harris' successor (and former MPP for Parry Sound—Muskoka), Ernie Eves.
In 2004, construction began on the segment from Sudbury southwards to Estaire, and route planning studies were completed for the Estaire to Parry Sound branch. Although the timetable has been subject to change, the four-laned route was scheduled to be completed in its entirety by 2017. Portions of the route will be opened to traffic as construction is completed — the 20 kilometre section south of Sudbury from Crown Ridge to Estaire was opened for traffic on November 12, 2009, and the segment from Highway 559 to Parry Sound opened to traffic on October 26, 2010. The former alignment in Sudbury now has the street name Estaire Road, while the former route through Nobel now has the street name Nobel Drive.
Work has also now been completed on a realignment of the controversial S-curve at Highway 637. Construction began on the new four-lane route at this location in 2008. Two lanes opened to traffic on July 27, 2010, and the completed four-lane route with a full highway interchange at Highway 637 opened to traffic on August 8, 2012. The former S-curve alignment now has the name Murdock River Road, and is accessible only from Highway 637 as a local road.
Concurrently with the final stages of construction on Highway 69, the Highway 17 freeway in Sudbury will be extended eastward to the Coniston neighbourhood along the city's Southwest and Southeast Bypasses. In preparation for this latter project, an interchange opened in 2008 at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sudbury's Long Lake Road.
As the Highway 69 route passes through significant tracts of wilderness and forest land, the route has also historically seen a rate of animal collisions well above the provincial norm. Several segments of the four-laned freeway route will include special grade-separated wildlife crossings, the first of which was completed in March 2012.
Although the original plan called for the four-laning of the highway to be complete by 2017, delays in environmental assessment and land negotiations with First Nations bands impacted by the construction have led to the timeline being pushed back. In the early 2010s, a widespread perception that the project appeared to be falling behind schedule was frequently discussed in the city's media and by candidates in municipal and provincial elections, but the Ministry of Transportation continued to assert that the project was on track for completion in 2017. In March 2015, the ministry officially acknowledged for the first time that the 2017 timeline will not be met, and indicated that the new target date was now between 2019 and 2021. In 2017, however, although the ministry made no formal announcement, its annual Northern Highways Report listed a completion date within that period only for the section already under construction between the French River and Ontario Highway 522 at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, with all of the remaining route between Grundy Lake and Carling listed as "beyond 2021".
Once the four-lane expansion project is complete, the highway will be fully renumbered as Highway 400. Northern sections will retain the 69 designation until the freeway is fully connected.
As of July 3, 2011, the federal government delayed further work from being done on this highway while it completed a screening under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; although environmental assessments were already completed on individual portions of the route, a Supreme Court of Canada decision in an unrelated case, MiningWatch v. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, created a precedent which effectively forced the federal government to rescind these approvals and reassess the project as a whole. As of November 1, 2011, Transport Canada addressed a letter to the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce advising that the reassessment was nearly complete.
The provincial government tendered new contracts in March 2012 for the next phase of construction, from the southern limit of the construction project near Highway 637 to just north of the French River; this segment of the highway opened to traffic in 2016, and the next phase to Grundy Lake is now under construction.
As of February 2018, the MTO still has not concluded a deal with any of the three First Nations along the Highway 69 corridor. In November 2016, the chief of Shawanaga First Nation claimed it had a "trump card" in Highway 69 negotiations and that it would demand a casino for Parry Sound. The February 2018 newsletter for Magnetawan First Nation contained a letter from the First Nation to the Premier of Ontario requesting a "special representative" of the Crown to negotiate. Construction of remaining sections, in addition, could be cancelled again should a new government be elected in Ontario; before the 2014 provincial election, Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak expressed inconsistent views about the project, suggesting at some times that his party was committed to completing it but at other times that the project may have to be cancelled depending on provincial finances.
The two-laned segment remains unsafe and vulnerable to closure; most recently, a collision between an SUV and a heavy truck at Shawanaga killed several people and closed the highway for several hours on February 6, 2018.
(Segments listed north to south)
Due to the many realignments and modifications that have taken place throughout Highway 69's history, numerous roads which were formerly part of the route of Highway 69 are now in use as parts of other highways or as county or local roads. This includes much of the routing of Highway 400 between Waubaushene and Nobel, Highway 529, the former Highway 169 and the following local roads:
Some of these routes remain as part of the provincial highway system under unsigned 7000-series designations.
|Simcoe||Waubaushene||147||Highway 400 – Barrie / Highway 12 / TCH – Orillia, Victoria Harbour, Midland,||Terminus of Highway 69 from 1976 until the 1990s|
|149||County Road 59 (Quarry Road)
Tay Road 2
|Port Severn||153||Port Severn Road South – Port Severn|
|Muskoka||156||District Road 5 (Muskoka Road / Port Severn Road North) – Port Severn, Honey Harbour|
|Georgian Bay||162||District Road 34 (White's Falls Road)
District Road 48 (South Bay Road) – Severn Falls
|–||Georgian Bay Road, Crooked Bay Road|
|–||District Road 33 (South Gibson Lake Road)|
|–||District Road 32 (Go Home Lake Road)
District Road 38 – Bala
|–||Iroquois Cranberry Growers Drive – Wahta Mohawk Territory|
|–||District Road 12 (12 Mile Bay Road)|
Exit 189 (now Lake Joseph Road); was the terminus of Highway 69 from 2008 to 2012.
|−53.8||−33.4||–||District Road 11 – MacTier|
|Foot's Bay||−52.1||−32.4||–||District Road 169 east – Bala, Gravenhurst||Formerly Highway 169|
|Parry Sound||Gordon Bay||−43.0||−26.7||–||Highway 612 south – MacTier|
|Seguin||–||Highway 141 west (to Highway 400)||Beginning of Highway 141 concurrency (2003 - 2012).|
|−32.8||−20.4||–||Highway 141 east – Rosseau||End of Highway 141 concurrency (2003 - 2012). Terminus of Highway 141 prior to 2003.|
|−30.2||−18.8||213||Highway 400 / TCH||Beginning of Highway 400 concurrency (2003 - 2012).|
|−27.1||−16.8||214||Seguin Trail Road, Horseshoe Lake Road|
|−23.9||−14.9||217||Oastler Park Drive, Badger Road||Prior to 2003, Oastler Park Drive was the alignment of Highway 69.|
|−20.5||−12.7||220||Highway 518 (Hunter Drive) – Orrville|
|Parry Sound||−16.9||−10.5||224||Bowes Street, McDougall Road|
|−14.4||−8.9||229||Parry Sound Drive||Parry Sound Drive is a former alignment of Highway 69.|
|McDougall||−11.8||−7.3||231||Highway 124 (Centennial Drive)|
|−6.7||−4.2||237||Avro Arrow Road — Nobel|
|−1.3||−0.81||241||Highway 559 – Killbear Provincial Park|
Highway 400 continues north as Highway 69
|17.2||10.7||–||Shebeshekong Road||Unsigned Highway 7182|
|Pointe Au Baril||26.4||16.4||–||Highway 644|
|The Archipelago||28.3||17.6||–||Highway 529 north|
|Magnetawan First Nation||48.3||30.0||–||Highway 529 south|
|Henvey||53.5||33.2||–||Highway 526 – Britt|
|Cranberry||66.3||41.2||–||Highway 522 – Trout Creek|
|Rutter||90.3||56.1||–||Highway 64 north – Noelville, Sturgeon Falls||Grade-separated interchange completed 2016|
|Unorganized Sudbury District||102.0||63.4||–||Crooked Lake Road||Grade-separated interchange completed 2015|
|107.1||66.5||–||Highway 637 west – Killarney||Grade-separated interchange opened August 8, 2012.|
|119.1||74.0||–||Nelson Road – Estaire|
|Greater Sudbury||128.1||79.6||–||Highway 537|
|134.0||83.3||–||Estaire Road||Estaire Road is a former alignment of Highway 69.|
|140.3||87.2||–||Highway 17 / TCH – Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay||Terminus of Highway 69; roadway continues northerly as Regent Street/Municipal Road 46.|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
Route map: Google