Ontario Highway 11

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Highway 11

A map of Highway 11
  Highway 11   Portion decommissioned in 1998
Route information
Maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario
Length1,784.9 km[1] (1,109.1 mi)
Major junctions
South end Highway 400 – Barrie
Major intersections
West end MN 72Baudette, MN
DivisionsSimcoe County, Muskoka, Parry Sound District, Nipissing District, Timiskaming District, Cochrane District, Thunder Bay District, Rainy River District
Major citiesBarrie, Orillia, North Bay, Temiskaming Shores, Thunder Bay
TownsGravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, Burk's Falls, South River, Powassan, Temagami, Englehart, Matheson, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Hearst, Longlac, Geraldton, Nipigon, Fort Frances, Rainy River
Highway system
Highway 10 Highway 11B
Former provincial highways
Highway 11A  →

King's Highway 11, commonly referred to as Highway 11, is a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario. At 1,784.9 kilometers (1,109.1 mi), it is the second longest highway in the province, following Highway 17. Highway 11 begins at Highway 400 in Barrie, and arches through northern Ontario to the Ontario–Minnesota border at Rainy River via Thunder Bay; the road continues as Minnesota State Highway 72 across the Baudette–Rainy River International Bridge. North and west of North Bay (as well as for a short distance through Orillia), Highway 11 forms part of the Trans-Canada Highway. The highway is also part of MOM's Way between Thunder Bay and Rainy River.

The original section of Highway 11 along Yonge Street was colloquially known as "Main Street Ontario", and was one of the first roads in what would later become Ontario. It was devised as an overland military route between York (Toronto) and Penetanguishene. Yonge Street serves as the east–west divide throughout York Region and Toronto.

Highway 11 became a provincial highway in 1920 when the network was formed, although many of the roads that make up the route were constructed before the highway was designated. At the time, it only extended between Toronto and north of Orillia. In 1937, the route was extended to Hearst, northwest of Timmins. The route was extended to Nipigon by 1943. In 1965, Highway 11 was extended to Rainy River, bringing it to its maximum length of 1,882.2 kilometers (1,169.5 mi). The southernmost leg, an 86-kilometer (53 mi) section (including the Bradford–Barrie extension) through Barrie and south to Lake Ontario in Toronto, also known as Yonge Street, was decommissioned as a provincial highway in 1996 and 1997.

From the late 1940s through the 1960s, numerous bypasses of towns along the route were built, including Orillia, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, Emsdale, Powassan, Callander, North Bay, Cobalt, Haileybury, New Liskeard and Thunder Bay. Beginning in the 1960s, the highway was four-laned between Barrie and North Bay in stages. Four laning was completed between Barrie and Gravenhurst in the 1960s, between Gravenhurst and Huntsville in the 1970s, and from North Bay south to Callandar in the 1980s. The remaining two lane section between Huntsville and Callander was four laned through the 1990s and 2000s, and was completed in 2012. A section concurrent with Highway 17 east of Thunder Bay was rebuilt as a divided highway in the early 2010s and work continues. The two-lane Nipigon River Bridge was replaced with a twin-span bridge that opened in 2018, following a structural failure in 2016.

Route description

Highway 11 varies between a divided four-lane urban freeway and a two-lane rural road. It travels through surroundings ranging from cities to farmland to the uninhabited wilderness. The section through northern Ontario includes several sections with no gas or service for over 160 kilometers (100 mi). Significant urban centres serviced by the route include Barrie, Orillia, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, North Bay, Temiskaming Shores, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Hearst, Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Atikokan, Fort Frances and Rainy River.[1][2] It is often paired with Yonge Street in the persistent but incorrect factoid that Yonge Street is the longest street in the world, a claim that was featured in the book of Guinness World Records from 1977 to 1998.[3][4][5]

Highway 11 facing south from Highway 12 in Orillia

Barrie – North Bay

Highway 11 begins at an interchange with Highway 400 on the north side of Barrie, travelling northeast parallel to the northwestern shore of Lake Simcoe. The four-lane route, divided by a median barrier, crosses former Highway 93 (Penetanguishene Road) and passes through a generally flat rural area, though businesses line both sides of the route. At the northern end of Lake Simcoe, the highway enters Orillia, where it is built as a divided freeway. It meets and becomes concurrent with Highway 12 for 2.4 kilometers (1.5 mi). At Laclie Drive, the route exits Orillia and returns to a RIRO design with rural surroundings. It travels northward along the western shore of Lake Couchiching as far as Washago, then crosses the Severn River / Trent Severn Waterway.[1][2]

Highway 11 facing north towards Bracebridge

North of the Severn River, Highway 11 travels through the Canadian Shield; large granite outcroppings are frequent and thick Boreal forest dominates the terrain.[2] At Gravenhurst, the highway makes a sharp curve to the east, then becomes a divided freeway before curving northward around Gull Lake. Near Bracebridge, it meets Highway 118 and former Highway 117. Highway 141 branches west from the route between Bracebridge and Huntsville, while Highway 60 branches east towards Algonquin Park in Huntsville. The section between Gravenhurst and Bracebridge is at freeway standards, while several at-grade intersections remain between Bracebridge and Huntsville.[1][2] Highway 11 crosses the 45th parallel north 550 meters (1,800 ft) north of the bridge carrying Highway 118 at interchange 182, just outside Bracebridge.[6]

The 120-kilometer (70 mi) section of Highway 11 between Huntsville and North Bay provides access to the western side of Algonquin Park. It also connects to Highway 518 at Emsdale, Highway 520 at Burk's Falls, Highway 124 at Sundridge and South River, Highway 522 at Trout Creek, Highway 534 at Powassan, and Highway 94 and Highway 654 at Callander. Most of this section is built to freeway standards, although a small number of at-grade intersections remain, primarily between Trout Creek and Callander.[1][2]

North Bay – Nipigon

A cable-stayed bridge with a backdrop of coniferous forest
The new Nipigon River Bridge while under construction in July 2016

From its junction with Highway 17 at North Bay, the two highways share a concurrency for 4.1 kilometers (2.5 mi) to the Algonquin Avenue intersection, where Highway 17 continues west toward Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie while Highway 11 turns north onto Algonquin Avenue.[1][2] Due to a steep incline as it descends Thibeault Hill into North Bay, the southbound Algonquin Avenue segment of Highway 11 features the only runaway truck ramp on Ontario's highway system, which was upgraded in 2009.[7] From North Bay, Highway 11 extends northerly for 370 kilometers (230 mi), passing through communities such as Temagami, Latchford, Temiskaming Shores, Englehart and Matheson en route to Cochrane, where the route turns west. From Cochrane, it passes through communities such as Smooth Rock Falls, Kapuskasing, Hearst and Greenstone, arching across northeastern Ontario westward then south for 613 kilometers (381 mi) before again meeting Highway 17 at Nipigon.[1][2]

Nipigon – Rainy River

Nearly the entire route from Nipigon to Rainy River is a two-lane, undivided road, with the exception of two twinned, four-lane segments approaching Thunder Bay. The first starts just west of Nipigon and ends just north of the Black Sturgeon River, for a distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 mi). The second portion reaches a distance of 36 kilometers (22 mi), from Highway 587 at Pass Lake to Balsam Street in Thunder Bay. Work is being done to twin the route from Ouimet to Dorion.[8] Additionally, the section from Balsam Street to the Harbour Expressway is four lanes wide, but undivided. The partial cloverleaf interchange at Thunder Bay's Hodder Avenue is the only interchange in Northwestern Ontario.[1][2]

Highway 11 and 17 run concurrently from Nipigon down to Thunder Bay, a distance of approximately 90 kilometers (56 mi), where they swing west on the Shabaqua Highway, encountering Kakabeka Falls several kilometers later. The highway then runs in a northwestern direction to Shabaqua Corners, where the two highways split; Highway 17 continues northwest to Dryden and Kenora, while Highway 11 continues in a generally west direction, eventually reaching Highway 11B at Atikokan, approximately halfway between Thunder Bay and Rainy River. The highway continues for 132 kilometers (82 mi), crosses the Noden Causeway, and reaches Fort Frances, where Highway 71 runs south across the U.S. border to International Falls. From here, Highway 11 shares a concurrency with Highway 71 for 37 kilometers (23 mi) until the latter branches north after Emo, while Highway 11 runs parallel to the border for 51 kilometers (32 mi) before ending at the town of Rainy River, where the roadway continues into Baudette, Minnesota, and ends at Minnesota State Route 11.[1][2]

Business routes

Former Highway 11B entering Cobalt

Highway 11B is the designation for business routes of Highway 11, ten of which have existed over the years. Two continue to exist today, while the remaining eight have been decommissioned. With the exception of the short spur route into Atikokan, all were once the route of Highway 11 prior to the completion of a bypass alignment. All sections of Highway 11B have now been decommissioned by the province with the exception of the Atikokan route and the southernmost section of the former Tri-Town route between Cobalt and Highway 11.[1]



A black and white sketch showing two high ranking British officers onlooking as several soldiers chop trees with axes to widen a path through a forest.
John Graves Simcoe supervising the Queen's York Rangers cutting trees during the construction of Yonge Street, 1795

The earliest established section of Highway 11 is Yonge Street in Toronto and York Region, though it is no longer under provincial jurisdiction. Yonge Street was built under the order of the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (now Ontario), John Graves Simcoe. Fearing imminent attack by the United States, he sought to create a military route between York (now Toronto) and Lake Simcoe. In doing so, he would create an alternative means of reaching the upper Great Lakes and the trading post at Michilimackinac, bypassing the American border.[9]

In late 1793, Simcoe determined the route of his new road. The following spring, he instructed Deputy Surveyor General Augustus Jones to blaze a small trail marking the route.[10] Simcoe initiated construction of the road by granting land to settlers, who in exchange were required to clear 33 feet (10 m) of frontage on the road passing their lot.[11] In the summer of 1794, William Berczy was the first to take up the offer, leading a group of 64 families north-east of Toronto to found the town of German Mills, in today's Markham. By the end of 1794, Berczy's settlers had cleared the route around Thornhill. However, the settlement was hit by a series of setbacks and road construction stalled.[9]

Work on the road resumed in 1795 when the Queen's Rangers took over. They began their work at Eglinton Avenue and proceeded north, reaching the site of St. Albans on February 16, 1796. Expansion of the trail into a road was a condition of settlement for farmers along the route, who were required to spend 12 days a year to clear the road of logs, subsequently removed by convicted drunks as part of their sentence. The southern end of the road was in use in the first decade of the 19th century, and became passable all the way to the northern end in 1816.[12]

For several years the Holland River and Lake Simcoe provided the only means of transportation; Holland Landing was the northern terminus of Yonge Street. The military route to Georgian Bay prior to, and during the War of 1812, crossed Lake Simcoe to the head of Kempenfelt Bay, then by the Nine Mile Portage to Willow Creek and the Nottawasaga River. The Penetanguishene Military Post was started before the war. However, lacking a suitable overland transport route, passage from York to Lake Huron continued via the Nottawasaga. The Penetanguishene Road, begun in 1814, replaced this route by the time the military post was opened in 1817.[13]

Black and white photo of a concrete two-lane road stretching straight towards the distant horizon
Highway 11 facing northeast from the junction with the Penetanguishene Road at Crown Hill in 1931, shortly after being paved with concrete

In 1824, work began to extend Yonge Street to Kempenfelt Bay near Barrie. A north-western extension was branched off the original Yonge Street in Holland Landing and ran into the new settlement of Bradford before turning north towards Barrie. Work was completed by 1827, making connections with the Penetanguishene Road. A network of colonization roads built in the 1830s (some with military strategy in mind) pushed settlement northeast along the shores of Lake Simcoe and north towards the shores of Georgian Bay.[14] Construction of the Muskoka Road began by the 1860s. The road, which penetrated the southern skirts of the Canadian Shield and advanced towards Lake Nipissing, reached as far as Bracebridge by 1861, and to Huntsville by 1863.[15] It was officially opened when it reached Lake Nipissing in 1874.[16] Further extensions into Northern Ontario would await the arrival of the automobile, and consequent need for highway networks.

Assumption and paving

Highway 11 was initially planned as a trunk road to connect the communities of Southern Ontario to those of Northern Ontario, as a continuous route from Toronto to North Bay. In 1919, Premier of Ontario Ernest Charles Drury created the Department of Public Highways (DPHO), though much of the responsibility for establishing the route he left to minister of the new cabinet position, Frank Campbell Biggs. By linking together several previously built roads such as Yonge Street, Penetanguishene Road, Middle Crossroad and the Muskoka Road—all early colonization roads in the region—a continuous route was created between Toronto and North Bay; however, the new department's jurisdiction did not extend north of the Severn River. Roads north of that point were maintained by the Department of Northern Development (DND).[17]

1927 postcard of the Ferguson Highway

In order to be eligible for federal funding, the DPHO established a network of provincial highways on February 26, 1920.[18] What would become Highway 11 was routed along Yonge Street, its extension to the Penetanguishene Road, and the Muskoka Road as far as the Severn River.[19] The portions of Yonge Street through what is now York Region, as well as Toronto as far south as Yonge Boulevard, were assumed by the DPHO on June 24, 1920, while the portions through Simcoe County, from Bradford to Severn Bridge were assumed two months later on August 18.[20] It received its numerical designation in the summer of 1925.[21]

The new route was mostly unpaved, with work beginning in 1922 to improve the roadway. That year saw paving completed between Yonge Boulevard and Thornhill, as well as a bypass of the original route through Holland Landing (now known as York Regional Road 83).[22] The pavement was extended farther north from Thornhill to Richmond Hill the following year.[23] By 1925, the route was paved from Toronto north to Fennell, as well as between Orillia and Washago.[24] An additional 5 kilometers (3 mi) north from Fennell were paved in 1926. In 1927, the pavement between Toronto and Barrie was completed with the paving of approximately 16 kilometers (10 mi) south from Barrie.[25] Between Barrie and Orillia, paving began in 1929, with the completion of approximately 13 kilometers (8 mi) east from Guthrie; at that point the highway turned north at 11th Line, then east at East Oro along Sideroad 15/16. That year also saw paving completed from Washago to north of Gravenhurst.[26][27] The following year, the newly-renamed Department of Highways (DHO) paved the remaining 13 kilometres between Barrie and Guthrie,[28] while the DND paved the Muskoka Road from Gravenhurst to Huntsville.[29] The final 7.6 kilometers (4.7 mi) of unpaved road between Barrie and Orillia was completed in 1931.[28]

Ferguson Highway and extension to Nipigon

"Black and white photo of a road meandering alongside a river rapids, eventually crossing the top of the rapids along a steel arch bridge."
The southern entrance to Bracebridge in 1930. This arch bridge, completed that year, was along the Ferguson Highway at the time. Today, this bridge is located on Muskoka District Road 16 (Eccleston Drive), and is over a kilometre from the modern Highway 11.

Throughout the 1910s and early 1920s, various chambers of commerce, rotary clubs and boards of trade petitioned the government to construct a new trunk road from North Bay towards the mining communities to the north that were established in the prior decades.[30][31][32][33] These delegations and committees also saw the potential tourist draw of opening the Temagami area to hunters, fishers, and recreational tourism.[34] By 1923, a road existed between Cobalt and Kirkland Lake, as well as between Ramore and Cochrane, with an approximately 32-kilometer (20 mi) gap separating the two sections.[35][36] Conservative leader Howard Ferguson promised to build a road to connect North Bay and Cochrane during the 1923 Ontario general election, which saw him elected as premier.[37]

The route of the new road between North Bay and Cobalt was cleared by April 1925,[38] after which construction began in August from both North Bay as well as Cobalt.[39] The new gravel highway was officially opened on July 2, 1927,[37] by Minister of Lands and Forests William Finlayson. He suggested at the opening that the road be named the Ferguson Highway in honour of premier Ferguson. The name was originally suggested by North Bay mayor Dan Barker.[40] Despite the official opening, a section between Swastika and Ramore wasn't opened until August.[41] The Ferguson Highway name was also applied to the Muskoka Road between Severn Bridge and North Bay.[37] Although the route from North Bay to Cochrane was passable, it was not an adequate road in many places. Construction continued for several years to build bypasses of sharp turns, steep grades, awkward rail crossings, and other obstacles. The Ferguson Highway was extended from Cochrane to Kapuskasing by 1930, and later to Hearst in 1932.[42][43]

Construction camps such as this were built along the 247-kilometer (153 mi) gap between Geraldton and Hearst. Several housed prisoners who were put to work on clearing the route of the highway.

The Provincial Highway Network was radically overhauled in 1937, when the DND merged with the DHO on April 1. Consequently, the DHO assumed responsibility of roads north of the Trent–Severn Waterway over the next several months.[44] On June 2, 339.2 kilometers (210.8 mi) of the Ferguson Highway was assumed by the DHO through Cochrane District. This was followed one week later when 80.5 kilometers (50.0 mi) of the Muskoka Road through the District of Muskoka were assumed on June 9. A 96.7 kilometers (60.1 mi) portion of the route, which included a portion of what is now Highway 94 to connect to the Dionne quintuplets, was assumed through Parry Sound District on June 16. On June 30, 136.9 kilometers (85.1 mi) of the Ferguson Highway were assumed north of North Bay within Nipissing District, as well as 182.1 kilometers (113.2 mi) through Timiskaming District. Highway 11 grew in length from 154.2 kilometers (95.8 mi) to 1,024.0 kilometers (636.3 mi).[45][46]

Construction began in 1938 on a road to connect Highway 17 at Nipigon with the gold mines discovered near the town of Geraldton several years earlier.[47][48] Although portions of this new road were passable by the end of 1939,[49] the Nipigon–Geraldton Highway was opened ceremoniously by Thomas McQuesten and C. D. Howe on September 7, 1940;[50] it was assumed as a provincial highway in 1941.[51] With the onset of World War II, the need for an east–west connection across Canada became imperative,[52] and construction began on a link between Geraldton and Hearst, a distance of 247 kilometers (153 mi) in 1939. Due to the shortage of labour, several prison camps were established between the two communities in October of that year and work began to clear a tote road for the movement of supplies over the following winter.[53][54] While the highway was completed in November 1942, it was not maintained during through the winter, and the official opening did not take place until June 12, 1943.[55] Following this, Highway 11 was extended to Nipigon, and was 1,421.1 kilometers (883.0 mi) long.[56]

Thunder Bay – Rainy River

Highway 120 in 1955 at the French River in Quetico Provincial Park

Highway 11 ended at Nipigon until the late 1950s, after construction of a new highway west from Thunder Bay towards Fort Frances began. During World War II, large deposits of iron ore were discovered at Steep Rock Lake, around which the town of Atikokan was developed.[57] The need to connect the burgeoning community to the road network became apparent following a rail strike in August 1950, during which a "mercy train" was delivered to the isolated town. Throughout the fall of 1950, various delegates pressed the provincial government to construct a road link immediately.[58][59][60] The province announced plans for the new highway between Atikokan and Shebandowan the following August,[61] and released the proposed route on October 10; construction began shortly thereafter.[62][63] The Atikokan Highway was ceremonially opened by premier Leslie Frost on August 13, 1954, although traffic had used the incomplete road beginning in November 1953. At that event, which saw him use an axe to cut a ribbon, Frost announced the future vision to extend the new route to Fort Frances. Despite the opening, work was ongoing to improve the existing road between the end of the new highway at Shebandowan and Highway 17 at Shabaqua Corners.[64][65]

Initially this road was designated as Highway 120. In 1959, it was decided to make this new link a westward extension of Highway 11. On April 1, 1960, Highway 11 assumed the route of Highway 120; this consequently created a concurrency of Highway 11 and 17 between Nipigon and west of Thunder Bay.[66][67][68] Now reaching as far as Atikokan, construction of a road between there and Fort Frances was carried out over the next five years. The final link, the 5.6-kilometer (3.5 mi) Noden Causeway over Rainy Lake, was opened on June 28, 1965, after which Highway 11 was extended to Rainy River and the American border.[69] Highway 11 was now at its peak length of 1,882.2 kilometers (1,169.5 mi).[70]

Lakehead Expressway

In 1963, Charles MacNaughton, minister of the Department of Highways, announced plans for the Lakehead Expressway to be built on the western edge of the twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William (which amalgamated in 1970 to form Thunder Bay).[71] Plans called for a 28.2 kilometers (17.5 mi) at-grade expressway from South of Arthur Street to meet Highway 11 and Highway 17 northeast of the cities.[72] Work began in August 1965, with a contract for a 5 kilometers (3 mi) section of divided highway on the west side of the twin cities.[73] The first section of the expressway opened on August 29, 1967, connecting Oliver Road (then part of Highway 130) and Golf Links Road with Dawson Road (Highway 102).[74] By mid- to late 1969, the route had been extended to Highway 527 northeast of the twin cities and to Highway 11 and Highway 17 (Arthur Street) at the Harbour Expressway.[75] By late 1970, the route had been extended southward from Arthur Street to Neebing Avenue / Walsh Street West. At this time, Highway 11 and 17 and Highway 61 were rerouted along the completed expressway. The old routes through Thunder Bay were redesignated as Highway 11B/17B and Highway 61B.[76][77][78]

Expansion and rerouting

As a result of provincial downloading of highways to municipalities in 1996 and 1997, Highway 11 now begins at the "Crown Hill" interchange with Highway 400 north of Barrie. Previously it extended south to Lake Ontario in Toronto, mostly along Yonge Street

While Highway 11 was extended farther north and west between the 1920s and 1960s, numerous projects took place along the sections between Barrie and Cochrane during that period to either realign the highway to improve the geometry, or to bypass built up areas. The largest bottleneck along the highway in the 1940s was between Washago and through Gravenhurst, where construction began in 1947 to realign 23 kilometers (14 mi) between the two towns, including a new high-level bridge over the Trent–Severn Waterway.[79][80] The original bypass of Gravenhurst, along what is now Bethune Drive, opened in 1948,[81] while reconstruction of the remainder of the route between Washago and Gravenhurst was completed in 1949.[80]

To the south, improvements between Barrie and Orillia, including a divided four-lane highway around the latter, were completed by 1955.[82] During that period, a two-lane bypass around Washago was built between 1954 and 1955.[82][83] Similar bypasses were built between Barrie and North Bay over the next decade, which were later incorporated into the modern four-lane route. A bypass of Bracebridge opened July 1, 1953.[84] The North Bay bypass was completed in 1953,[85] while bypasses of Emsdale and Powassan were completed 1956[86] and 1957, respectively. Construction of the Huntsville Bypass began in 1957;[87] it opened November 27, 1959.[88] The original Callander Bypass, which is now divided into Callander Bay Drive and part of Highway 93, also opened in October 1959.[89] Further north, the 19-kilometer (12 mi) Tri-Town Bypass, from Gillies to north of New Liskeard, was opened on September 18. The new route bypassed the towns of Cobalt, Haileybury and New Liskeard (the latter two which have since become part of Temiskaming Shores).[90] In several cases, the original route of Highway 11 became a business route (Highway 11B, see #Business routes) upon the completion of a bypass.

Beginning in 1965[91][92] Highway 11 was widened to a divided four-lane route between Orillia and North Bay. Initially, this work began at the southern end and progressed northwards; work later began southwards from North Bay.[93] The first section to be four-laned was 8.0 kilometers (5.0 mi) north of Orillia, which was completed in October 1964, while the remaining 5.6 kilometers (3.5 mi) north to Severn River was completed by the end of 1965.[94] Construction continued north of Severn River, with a 7.1-kilometer (4.4 mi) section—including a second bridge over the Severn River—opening as far north as Kahshe Lake in October 1966. Construction on the next 8.6 kilometers (5.3 mi) from Kahshe Lake to south of Gravenhurst began that year.[95] The current 6.8-kilometer (4.2 mi) bypass of Gravenhurst, crossing Gull Lake, was announced on March 31, 1966,[96][97] and construction began in the spring of 1967.[81][98] The new bypass was completed and opened in late 1970.[99]

By 1971, Highway 11 was a four lane divided highway from Orillia to the northern interchange with Bethune Drive in Gravenhurst, and work was underway on twinning the highway between Gravenhurst and then-Highway 117 (now Highway 118), north of Bracebridge;[100][101] That project was completed by 1974.[102] Between then and 1979, widening was completed to 7.4 kilometers (4.6 mi) north of Highway 141 at Stephenson Road 12 along the existing route of Highway 11, and underway for another 4.3 kilometers (2.7 mi) to the southern end of the Huntsville Bypass.[103]

Downloading and four-laning Huntsville to Powassan

Map of Highway 11 four laning by date, arranged from north to south:
(Click on map for interactive features)
  Two lane Highway 11 in 1985

  September 1997 (Powassan–McGillvray Creek)
  October 1999 (McGillvray Creek–Trout Creek)
  October 2, 2002 (Trout Creek Bypass)
  October 30, 2004 (Trout Creek to South River)
  September 20, 2011 (Sundridge / South River Bypass)
  August 8, 2012 (Burk's Falls–Sundridge)
  August 8, 2012 (Burk's Falls Bypass)
  Late 2010 (Katrine–Burk's Falls)
  Week of October 21, 2005 (Highway 518–Katrine)
  Late 2002 (Melissa–Highway 518)
  September 2001 (Huntsville–Melissa)

In 1996 and 1997, the care (or rescinding of Connecting Link agreements) of Highway 11 from Barrie southwards, including all of Yonge Street, was transferred by the provincial government to county, regional, and city governments by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario as part of the Mike Harris government's Common Sense Revolution. This practice is called downloading, in that the financial burden will fall to a lower tier government. The entire 36 kilometers (22 mi) of Highway 11 within York Region was transferred to the region on April 1, 1996.[104] This was followed up a year later with the transfer of 27.3 kilometers (17.0 mi) of the highway within Simcoe County south of Crown Hill on April 1, 1997.[105] Along with the name Yonge Street, the section in York Region is now York Regional Road 1, while the section in Simcoe County is now mostly Simcoe County Road 4. Within the city of Toronto, which does not have a road numbering system, it is known as Yonge Street.[106]

By 1997, the four-laning of Highway 11 reached to approximately 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) north of Highway 60,[107] where an interchange was built in 1992,[108] as well as from North Bay south to Powassan.[107] A continuous construction project was carried out over the next 15 years to widen the remaining 93 kilometers (58 mi) between Huntsville and Powassan.[109][110] A 7-kilometer (4.3 mi) project to twin the existing two lane highway between Powassan and McGillvray Creek opened in September 1997. This was followed in October 1999 with the opening of another 5-kilometer (3.1 mi) of twinning from McGillvray Creek south to Hummel Line, north of Trout Creek.[111]

In the early 2000s, several more sections were completed at both the north and south end of the remaining two lane highway. A 4-kilometer (2.5 mi) section was opened in September 2001 north of the Huntsville Bypass to south of Novar, mostly along a new alignment alongside the existing highway. On October 3, 2002, the southbound lanes of the 7-kilometer (4.3 mi) Trout Creek Bypass, a new alignment around that town, were opened, followed by the northbound lanes two weeks later. An additional 13-kilometer (8.1 mi) of twinning was completed by the end of that year between Novar and south of Emsdale.[111]

In 2003, a major failure of the Sgt. Aubrey Cosens VC Memorial Bridge at the Montreal River in Latchford caused a complete closure and significant detour.[112] A temporary one-lane Bailey bridge, which opened two weeks after the incident, was constructed to carry traffic on the highway;[113] due to the expected water levels on the Montreal River once ice and snow began to melt in the spring, however, a second temporary bridge then had to be constructed for the duration of the original bridge's reconstruction.[114] According to the Ministry of Transportation's final report, the failure was caused by a fatigue fracture of three steel hanger rods on the northwest side of the bridge.[115] Following reconstruction, the bridge resumed service in 2005. Each hanger rod was replaced with four cable wires, to provide greater stability in the event of a wire failure.[116]

On October 30, 2004, another 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) of four-laning was opened between the south end of the Trout Creek Bypass and north of South River.[117] To the south, a 6-kilometer (3.7 mi) bypass of Emsdale opened the week of October 21, 2005, with a portion of the original Emsdale Bypass (constructed in 1956)[86] remaining as Highway 518.[118] This left a 41-kilometer (25 mi) gap remaining to be four-laned; by 2009, construction was underway on 36 kilometers (22 mi).[119] A 7.5-kilometer (4.7 mi) section from south of Burk's Falls to south of Katrine was four-laned by late 2010, mostly along a new alignment. The 17-kilometer (11 mi) Sundridge–South River Bypass opened to traffic on or about September 20, 2011, along a new alignment.[120] The final two projects, twinning the Burk's Falls Bypass and a new alignment alongside the existing highway between Burk's Falls and Sundridge, were completed and opened together on August 8, 2012, completing the four laning between Barrie and North Bay. Overall, the project between Huntsville and Powassan required "16 new interchanges, 54 new bridges, 1.7 million cubic meters of rock excavation, 10.5 million cubic metres of earth excavation, 4.6 million tonnes of granular material applied and 500,000 tonnes of asphalt."[109]

Since 2010

Map of Highway 11/17 four laning by date, arranged from west to east:
(Click on map for interactive features)
  August 17, 2012 (Hodder Avenue–Highway 527)
  Week of September 29, 2014 (Highway 527–Mackenzie River)
  July 2013 (Mackenzie River–Birch Beach Road)
  September 1, 2017 (Birch Beach Road–Highway 587)
  To be completed in 2026 (Highway 587–Pearl Lake)
  In detailed design (Pearl Lake–Ouimet)
  To be completed late 2023 (Ouimet–Dorion)
  In detailed design (Dorion–Highway 582)
  In detailed design (Highway 582–Coughlin Road)
  In detailed design (Coughlin Road–Red Rock Road No. 9)
  September 2019 (Red Rock Road No. 9–Stillwater Creek)
  Unannounced (Nipigon 4+1 widening)
  2019 (Nipigon River Bridge and approaches)

Plans for four-laning Highway 11/17 from the end of the Thunder Bay Expressway northwest to Nipigon, including the Nipigon River Bridge, were first announced in December 1989.[121] The corridor was divided into four segments, and an Environmental Study Report (ESR) was published for each in 1996 or 1997.[122][123] While the MTO designated the corridor—a mix of twinning the existing highway and a new alignment—in 2003,[123] funding wasn't committed to the project until the late 2000s. In early-to-mid 2009, the provincial government announced the first of several contracts to expand the highway, starting from the Thunder Bay end. Construction on the 4.4-kilometer (2.7 mi), $42-million contract began in August 2010, from west of Hodder Avenue to Highway 527.[124] The westbound lanes opened the weekend of August 6, 2011;[125] the existing highway was then rebuilt as the eastbound lanes, and opened on August 17, 2012. An interchange at Hodder Avenue—the first in Northwestern Ontario—was included as part of this project[126]

By 2012, construction was already underway on two more contracts: A $46-million project to twin 12.3 kilometers (7.6 mi) of the existing highway between Highway 527 and west of Mackenzie Station Road that began in 2010,[127] and another 12.3-kilometre project built along a new alignment east of that point to Birch Beach Road. The latter project was completed first, opening in July 2013,[126][128] while the former was opened the week of September 29, 2014.[129]

Construction began in 2013 on a new four lane cable-stayed bridge across the Nipigon River, to replace the existing two lane bridge built in 1974.[130] The southern span to carry the future westbound lanes was opened on November 28, 2015, after which the old bridge closed. It was subsequently demolished to allow the construction of the northern span to carry eastbound traffic, which was scheduled for 2017.[131][132] However, on January 10, 2016, the bridge experienced a significant structural failure in which the deck raised 60 centimeters (2 ft), severing the only highway connection between eastern and western Canada.[133] A single lane was reopened the following day and repairs began; both lanes were reopened on February 25, 2016.[134] The failure caused a significant delay in the construction of the northern span, which did not open until November 23, 2018,[135] The 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) of approaches at each end were completed in 2019.[126]

On June 10, 2015, the province announced the awarding of two contracts: A $32.7 million contract awarded to twin 5.7 kilometers (3.5 mi) of the existing highway from Birch Beach Road to Highway 587 near Loon, and an $84.8 million contract to construct a new 9.7-kilometer (6.0 mi) alignment from Red Rock Road No. 9 to Stillwater Creek near Nipigon.[136] Construction began on the former in October,[137] and on the latter by the end of June.[137] The section from Birch Beach Road to Highway 587 was completed on September 1, 2017,[138][139] while the section from Red Rock Road No. 9 to Stillwater Creek was completed in September 2019.[139]

On March 29, 2022, the Government of Ontario announced that it was extending its 110-kilometer-per-hour (68 mph) speed limit increase, on a trial basis, to the section of Highway 11 from north of Katrine to north of South River.[140][141]


Work is ongoing or upcoming to twin or realign the remaining 55 kilometers (34 mi) of two-laned Highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon. On December 8, 2020, a $71-million contract was awarded for a mix of twinning and a new alignment for 7.9-kilometer (4.9 mi) from Superior Shores Road south of Ouimet to south of Dorion Loop Road near Dorion. Construction started a few weeks earlier at the end of November. The project is scheduled for completion in September 2023.[142] On July 11, 2022, 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) of the new eastbound lanes opened from Ouimet Canyon Road to Superior Shores Road. The remainder of the eastbound lanes, from Ouimet Canyon Road to Dorion Loop Road, are scheduled to open by the end of the year.[8]

On April 9, 2022, the province announced a $107-million contract to twin and realign 13.2 kilometers (8.2 mi) of Highway 11/17 from the end of the existing four lane route near Highway 587 to Pearl. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2022 and be completed in 2026.[143]

The remaining 34 kilometers (21 mi)[144] are in the detailed design process as of 2022, and are broken up into several sections: 6.6 kilometers (4.1 mi) between Pearl and south of Ouimet; 10.3 kilometers (6.4 mi) between Dorion Loop Road and near Highway 582; 8.3 kilometers (5.2 mi) between Highway 582 and Coughlin Road; 4.7 kilometers (2.9 mi) between Coughlin Road and Red Rock Road No. 9, crossing the Black Sturgeon River and connecting with the existing four lane route, and; 4.2 kilometers (2.6 mi) through Nipigon, between Stillwater Creek and First Street.[126][137]

Highway 11 between Barrie and Gravenhurst is currently a right-in/right-out (RIRO) expressway (local access permitted, turnarounds via special interchanges), except for a section around Orillia which is a full freeway. Another freeway section (formerly Highway 400A) does exist in Barrie with the freeway segment from the southern terminus ending at Penetanguishene Road (Simcoe County Road 93). The MTO is currently planning on either converting the existing RIRO expressway to a full six-lane freeway or bypassing it with an entirely new alignment. An environmental and fiscal study concluded that the improvements from Barrie to Gravenhurst will involve the existing route being widened with the exception of a portion south of Gravenhurst that may potentially be constructed to the east of the current road.[145]

Major intersections

The following table lists the major junctions along Highway 11, as noted by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.[1] Interchanges are numbered between Barrie and North Bay. 

Old Toronto−100.5−161.7  Highway 2 (Gardiner Expressway) /
Lake Shore Boulevard
Module:Jctint/CAN warning: Unused argument(s): dspan
−98.9−159.2 King Street
−98.0−157.7 Dundas Street
−96.4−155.1  Highway 5 (Bloor Street)
−92.2−148.4 Eglinton Avenue
North York−87.0−140.0  Highway 401
−86.0−138.4 Sheppard Avenue
Metropolitan TorontoYork lineNorth YorkVaughan
Markham tripoint
−81.9−131.8 Steeles AvenueHighway 11 is signed as York Regional Road 1
YorkThornhill−77.8−125.2  Highway 407
−77.3−124.4  Highway 7 – MarkhamHighway 7 was downloaded to the York Region in 1998; currently York Regional Road 7
Richmond Hill−73.7−118.6  Regional Road 25 (Major Mackenzie Drive)
Aurora−59.2−95.3  Regional Road 15 (Wellington Street)
Newmarket−53.0−85.3  Highway 9 west (Davis Drive) – OrangevilleHighway 9 was downloaded to the Region of York in 1998; currently York Regional Road 31
East Gwillimbury−49.9−80.3  Regional Road 51 (Yonge Street) – Holland LandingYonge Street turned off Highway 11
−46.2−74.4  Regional Road 38 (Bathurst Street)
SimcoeBradford−42.3−68.1  Highway 88 (Bridge Street) – Bond HeadHighway 88 was downloaded to Simcoe County in 1998. Currently Simcoe County Road 88.
−40.9−65.8 Line 8Highway 11 is currently Simcoe County Road 4 between Bradford and Barrie. Yonge Street (extension) rejoined Highway 11
Bradford-West Gwillimbury−30.9−49.7  Highway 89 west – AllistonHighway 89 was downloaded to Simcoe County in 1998; currently Simcoe Road 89 sign.png County Road 89 /
County Road 3 (Shore Acres Drive)
Innisfil−21.2−34.1 Simcoe Road 21 sign.png Simcoe County Road 21 (Innisfil Beach Road)
Barrie−15.7−25.3 Mapleview Drive
Module:Jctint/CAN warning: Unused argument(s): municipality
−9.7−15.6  Highway 27 (Essa Road)Beginning of former Highway 27 concurrency
−7.5−12.1  Highway 26 west (Bayfield Street)End of former Highway 27 concurrency.
SimcoeOro-Medonte0.00.0 Highway 400 south, Barrie and TorontoCurrent southern terminus of Highway 11. The highway followed Penetanguishene Road southwards prior to downloading, and the first 1.1 km was formerly the unsigned Highway 400A[1][2]
1.11.8 County Road 93 north (Penetanguishene Road) – MidlandFormerly Highway 93; continuation of Ontario Highway 400 kilometre markers[2]
5.79.2Oro-Medonte Line 4
15.825.4 County Road 20 (Oro-Medonte Line 11)
Orillia23.638.0129Memorial AvenueNorthbound exit only; southbound exit and northbound entrance via Oro-Medonte Line 15
Module:Jctint/CAN warning: Unused argument(s): municipality
25.340.7131 Highway 12 south / TCH (Old Barrie Road) – WhitbySouth end of Highway 12 concurrency
27.744.6133 Highway 12 north / TCH (Coldwater Road) – Coldwater, MidlandNorth end of Highway 12 concurrency
29.848.0135 County Road 18 (West Street / Burnside Line)
31.450.5Laclie StreetNorthbound entrance and southbound exit
SimcoeSevern38.962.6Bayou Road / New Brailey Line
46.775.2 County Road 169 south
49.078.9Severn River bridge
Module:Jctint/CAN warning: Unused argument(s): rspan, espan
64.9104.4169 District Road 169 west (Muskoka Road) – BalaDead Man's Curve; no northbound entrance
69.9112.5175 District Road 41 west (Bethune Road)
District Road 6 east (Doe Lake Road)
76.8123.6182 Highway 118 east – Haliburton
District Road 118 west – Bracebridge
78.8126.8184 District Road 37 (Fredrick Street / Cedar Lane)
83.6134.5189 District Road 42 (Taylor Road)
87.5140.8193 District Road 117 east – Dorset
Huntsville101.8163.8207 Highway 141 west – Parry Sound
District Road 10 – Port Sydney
114.3183.9219 District Road 3 (Aspdin Road / Main Street)Huntsville Bypass
116.6187.6221 District Road 2 (West Road / Ravenscliffe Road)
118.3190.4223 Highway 60 east – Ottawa Algonquin Provincial Park
121.5195.5226 District Road 3
235 Highway 592 north (Novar Road) – EmsdaleEmsdale Bypass
Parry SoundEmsdale244Fern Glen Road west / Scotia Road east / Emsdale Road Kearney
248 Highway 518 west / Deer Lake Road – Parry Sound
252Doe Lake Road west / Three Mile Lake Road east
Burk's Falls152.6245.6257 Highway 520 (Ontario Street) / Ferguson Road – MagnetawanBurk's Falls Bypass
156.2251.4261Ontario Street / Pickerel & Jack Lake Road Magnetawan
Module:Jctint/CAN warning: Unused argument(s): nspan
Sundridge171.6276.2276 Highway 124 / Muskoka Road – Parry SoundSundridge / South River Bypass
South River178.7287.6282Machar Strong Boundary Road / Mountainview Road / Tower Road Sundridge
184.2296.4289 Highway 124
Laurier189.2304.5294Goreville Road / Summit Road
Trout Creek196.6316.4301 Highway 522 west – CommandaTrout Creek Bypass
201.4324.1306 Highway 522B / McCarthy Street – Port Loring
Powassan211.9341.0316 Highway 534 west – Nipissing
Callander224.9361.9329 Highway 654 (Lake Nosbonsing Road) – NipissingTo Highway 94 north – Corbeil
NipissingNorth Bay234.0376.6338Lakeshore DriveFormerly Highway 11B north
239.7385.8344 Highway 17 east / TCH – OttawaSouth end of Highway 17 North Bay concurrency
240.9387.7Fisher StreetFormerly Highway 17B west
241.5388.7 Highway 63 east (Trout Lake Road)
Cassells Street west
243.8392.4 Highway 17 west / TCH – Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie
Algonquin Avenue
North end of Highway 17 North Bay concurrency; formerly Highway 11B south
Ontario M111.svg Trans-Canada Highway designation south (east) end[1]
244.3393.2McKeown Avenue / Airport Road
Marten River300.9484.3 Highway 64 west – Sturgeon Falls
TimiskamingColeman380.4612.2 Highway 11B north – CobaltSouth end of Tri-Town Bypass
Temiskaming Shores389.9627.5 Highway 558 (Municipal Road) – Haileybury
396.6638.3 Highway 65 east (Whitewood Avenue) – New LiskeardSouth end of Highway 65 concurrency
399.3642.6 Highway 65 west – MatachewanNorth end of Highway 65 concurrency; north end of Tri-Town Bypass; formerly Highway 11B south
Hilliard411.1661.6 Highway 569 (Hilliardtown Road) – Couttsville
Harley417.1671.3 Highway 562 west – Thornloe
Earlton426.0685.6 Highway 571 south
Heaslip434.7699.6 Highway 569 east to Highway 624
Englehart440.9709.6 Highway 560
Unorganized Timiskaming459.6739.7 Highway 112 east – Dane
478.6770.2 Highway 66 / TCH – Matachewan, Kirkland Lake
Kenogami Lake479.6771.8 Highway 568 east
Unorganized Timiskaming493.5794.2 Highway 570 east – Sesekinika
CochraneUnorganized Cochrane521.1838.6 Highway 572 east – Holtyre
Matheson535.6862.0 Highway 101 east (Fourth Avenue) – Quebec borderSouth end of Highway 101 concurrency
Unorganized Cochrane542.0872.3 Highway 101 west – WawaNorth end of Highway 101 concurrency
556.3895.3 Highway 577 south (Shillington Road) – Shillington
556.6895.8 Highway 577 north – Iroquois Falls
Porquis Junction569.0915.7 Highway 67 north – Iroquois Falls
Nellie Lake575.9926.8 Highway 578 (Nellie Lake Road)
Cochrane615.5990.6 Highway 652 north (Third Avenue)directional signage changes
Unorganized Cochrane625.01,005.8 Highway 636 north – Frederick
633.51,019.5 Highway 668 north – Hunta
Driftwood644.11,036.6 Highway 655 south – Timmins
Smooth Rock Falls670.11,078.4 Highway 634 north – Fraserdale
Moonbeam712.61,146.8 Highway 581 north
 Kapuskasing Connecting Link
Hearst829.41,334.8 Highway 583 north
830.01,335.86th StreetBeginning of Hearst Connecting Link
830.61,336.7 Highway 583 south (9th Street) – Mead
831.81,338.715th StreetEnd of Hearst Connecting Link
Unorganized Cochrane865.01,392.1 Highway 663 north – Calstock
893.81,438.4 Highway 631 south – White River
Thunder BayGreenstone1,025.91,651.0 Highway 625 south – Caramat
1,074.91,729.9 Highway 584 north – Geraldton
1,130.51,819.4 Highway 801 north – Auden
1,153.11,855.7 Highway 580 north (Leitch Road)
Nipigon1,232.31,983.2 Highway 17 east / TCH – Sault Ste. MarieEast end of Highway 17 Thunder Bay concurrency
1,236.31,989.6 Highway 585 north (Cameron Falls Road) – Cameron Falls
Unorganized Thunder Bay1,244.72,003.2 Highway 628 east – Red Rock
1,260.22,028.1 Highway 582 south (Hurkett Road) – Hurkett
1,264.52,035.0 Highway 582 east (Hurkett Road) – Hurkett
1,300.82,093.4 Highway 587 south (Pass Lake Road) – Pass Lake
1,330.82,141.7 Highway 527 north – Armstrong
Thunder Bay1,334.62,147.8Hodder AvenueFormerly Highway 11B west
1,341.02,158.1 Highway 102 west (Dawson Road) – Kaministiquia
1,347.02,167.8 Highway 61 south – Duluth
Harbour Expressway east
Unorganized Thunder Bay1,359.22,187.4 Highway 130 (Arthur Street West) – Rosslyn
1,368.62,202.5 Highway 588 south – Stanley
Kakabeka Falls1,374.92,212.7 Highway 590 (Hymers Road)
Unorganized Thunder Bay1,390.12,237.1 Highway 102 east (Dawson Road)
Shabaqua Corner1,411.12,270.9 Highway 17 west / TCH – Dryden, KenoraWest end of Highway 17 Thunder Bay concurrency
Shebandowan1,431.92,304.4 Highway 586 south (Shelter Bay Road)
Rainy RiverUnorganized Rainy River1,517.92,442.8 Highway 633 – Quetico Centre
1,524.92,454.1 Highway 623 north (Sapawe Road) – Shapawe
1,546.42,488.7 Highway 11B north – AtikokanTo Highway 622
1,662.12,674.9 Highway 502 north (Manitou Road)
Fort Frances1,688.32,717.1Beginning of Fort Frances Connecting Link
1,690.92,721.2 Highway 71 south – international fallsEast end of Highway 71 concurrency
1,692.92,724.5 Highway 602 south
1,696.92,730.9End of Fort Frances Connecting Link
Unorganized Rainy River1,702.12,739.3 Highway 611 southBeginning of Highway 611 concurrency
1,704.12,742.5 Highway 611 northEnd of Highway 611 concurrency
Devlin1,713.92,758.3 Highway 613 north
Emo1,726.62,778.7 Highway 602 south
Unorganized Rainy River1,732.82,788.7 Highway 71 north / TCH – KenoraWest end of Highway 71 concurrency
Ontario M111.svg Trans-Canada Highway designation west end
Stratton1,751.72,819.1 Highway 617 north
Pinewood1,763.52,838.1 Highway 619 north
Unorganized Rainy River1,773.12,853.5 Highway 621 north – Gameland
Rainy River1,782.02,867.9Beginning of Rainy River Connecting Link
1,784.62,872.0 Highway 600 north (B Street)End of Rainy River Connecting Link
Canada–United States border
(Baudette–Rainy River Border Crossing)
1,784.91,109.1Baudette–Rainy River International Bridge across Rainy River

MN 72 south – Baudette
Continuation into Minnesota; to MN 11
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


See also

  • Webers, a fast-food restaurant located alongside the highway, near Orillia



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  • Shragge, John; Bagnato, Sharon (1984). From Footpaths to Freeways. Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Historical Committee. ISBN 0-7743-9388-2.

External links

Four-laning studies Thunder Bay–Nipigon