History of King's Highway 101:
King's Highway 101 is a major collector highway in Northeastern Ontario which passes through the Districts of Algoma, Sudbury, Cochrane and Timiskaming. The highway provides the only east-west road link across the central portion of Northeastern Ontario. Highway 101 begins at Highway 17 in Wawa and heads easterly to the Ontario-Quebec Boundary, via Chapleau, Timmins and Matheson. The highway took several decades to complete and passes through some of the most remote regions of Northeastern Ontario.
The route of Highway 101 was created in 1944 when the 31-mile cut-off route between Matheson and Timmins was renumbered. The cut-off route was previously known as Highway 67A, but the road's designation was changed to Highway 101 when plans were developed to extend the highway easterly from Matheson into Quebec. The construction of the east extension of Highway 101 into Quebec began shortly after World War II. By the late 1940s, construction of Highway 101 had reached Holloway Lake, located about 38 miles (60 km) east of Matheson. As the new highway neared completion, a Preliminary Route Plan was prepared by the Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) dated January 14, 1948, showing the proposed assumption of the Matheson-Holloway Lake Road as a new King's Highway. Although the eastern extension of Highway 101 was shown on the Official Ontario Road Map and listed in DHO mileage tables beginning in 1948, the east extension of Highway 101 was not officially assumed by the DHO until December 13, 1950. Construction on the east extension of the highway ceased in the early 1950s and didn't resume again until 1957, when a contract was called to complete the final 9 mile section between Holloway Lake and the Ontario-Quebec Boundary. This east extension of Highway 101 to the Ontario-Quebec Boundary was completed and opened to traffic in mid-1958.
Initially, the entire route of Highway 101 east of Timmins was gravel-surfaced. The first paving contract was awarded in 1950 to pave 16 miles of the highway west of Matheson. The balance of the highway between Matheson and the Highway 67 Junction was paved in 1951. A contract to pave the first 10 miles of Highway 101 east of Matheson was awarded in 1954 and was completed in 1955. By 1959, paving was completed to within 23 miles of the Ontario-Quebec Boundary. The final paving contract on Highway 101 between Matheson and the Ontario-Quebec Boundary was completed in 1963.
The route of Highway 101 west of Matheson remained more or less unchanged up until 1956. That year, the DHO decided to renumber several highways in the Timmins area. The route number changes came about in early 1956, and precipitated a number of modifications to the area's highway network. The section of Highway 67 from Warren Lake east of Timmins to Hoyle was renumbered as Highway 101. In turn, Highway 67 was truncated at the Highway 101 Junction east of Hoyle. By the end of the 1950s, Highway 101 extended from Warren Lake (located about 43 km west of Timmins) to the Ontario-Quebec Boundary. The length of Highway 101 stood at 117 miles (188 km) in 1959.
Highway 101 was pushed further west, when the Highway 101 designation was applied to the routes of Former Secondary Highway 616 and Secondary Highway 624 between Warren Lake and Foleyet in 1960. This extension added another 39 miles (63 km) to the length of Highway 101. Construction also began on two future sections of Highway 101 east of Chapleau in 1959 and east of Wawa in 1962. Another section of highway, originally envisioned as an extension of Highway 129, was completed southwest of Chapleau in 1960. This section of highway was ultimately incorporated into the route of Highway 101 as work continued west from Chapleau towards Wawa in the mid-1960s. Highway 101 was completed and officially opened to traffic between Foleyet and Chapleau on June 23, 1962. The final link in Highway 101 was completed and opened to traffic between Chapleau and Wawa on November 1, 1966, although the section of Highway 101 between Wawa and Hawk Junction had been open to traffic since 1963. Once completed, Highway 101 was approximately 297 miles (478 km) in length. For the first time ever, motorists were able to drive directly between Highway 11 and Highway 17 across Northeastern Ontario. This had not previously been possible. Until the completion of Highway 101, there was no highway connection between Highway 11 and Highway 17 from the split of these two routes at Nipigon and the Highway 64 cut-off near North Bay. Paving work on the west extension of Highway 101 began in 1957 and continued throughout the 1960s. The final gravel section on Highway 101 east of Chapleau was paved over in 1971.
Three non-assumed sections existed along Highway 101 through Wawa, Timmins and Matheson. The DHO generally assumed ownership of sections of Highway 101 lying outside of these built-up areas, meaning that the municipalities were responsible for maintenance of the highway through towns. During the 1950s and 1960s, the DHO established Municipal Connecting Link Agreements with the various towns, which provided cost-sharing mechanisms for major capital construction upgrades to the section of highway lying within the town. The section of Highway 101 through Timmins was designated as a Municipal Connecting Link by an Order-in-Council, effective February 12, 1959. A Municipal Connecting Link was designated along Highway 101 through Matheson by an Order-in-Council on May 14, 1959. The final non-assumed section of Highway 101 through Wawa was designated as a Municipal Connecting Link by an Order-in-Council on May 12, 1966.
On March 31, 1997, two additional sections of Highway 101 within Timmins were downloaded by the province to the municipality. The 6.2 km section of Highway 101 lying between the Highway 576 Junction and the Mattagami River Bridge and the 10.6 km section of Highway 101 lying between Schumacher and the Ontario Northland Railway crossing near Porcupine were transferred over to the City of Timmins. The entire 21.6 km section of Highway 101 from the Highway 576 Junction to the Ontario Northland Railway crossing near Porcupine was subsequently designated as a Municipal Connecting Link by a Minister's Order dated January 21, 1999.
Highway 101 is one of Ontario's loneliest highways, passing through some of the most sparsely-populated regions in the province. The highway seldom encounters any populated areas along its 475 km journey across Northeastern Ontario. Many sections of the highway carry very light traffic volumes. One section of Highway 101 between Wawa and Chapleau has an average daily traffic volume of approximately 300 vehicles per day. The only significant towns located along or near Highway 101 are Wawa, Chapleau, Foleyet, Timmins and Matheson. In conjunction with Highway 129, Highway 101 is a decent (and slightly shorter) alternate route to the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 17) between Thessalon and Wawa. For the most part, Highway 101 is a good quality two-lane road for its entire length between Wawa and the Ontario-Quebec Boundary east of Matheson. There are some sections of four-lane highway within towns. Services are very scarce along Highway 101. While gasoline is available in most major communities along the highway, there are considerable distances between these communities. It is not at all uncommon to travel 100 km (60 miles) on this highway without passing a single gas station. Drivers should be prudent and fill up before setting out on Highway 101. Motorists who plan to use this highway at night should be aware that there are no 24-hour gas stations along Highway 101 outside of Timmins.
In Wawa, Highway 101 East turns onto a different roadway while the through road becomes Broadway Avenue leading into Downtown Wawa. Eastbound motorists heading towards Chapleau must turn right onto Main Street in order to stay on Highway 101. Westbound traffic heading towards Highway 17 in Wawa must turn left at this junction to stay on Highway 101. Near Chapleau, Highway 101 and Highway 129 share a short concurrent routing for about 8 km, which results in a rather confusing jog for Highway 101 traffic. Eastbound motorists should be especially mindful of this, as this jog is very easy to miss. Highway 101 traffic heading eastbound towards Timmins must turn left onto Highway 129 North. The through road at this intersection is Highway 129 South, which leads to Thessalon. While the junction is signed with highway markers, it can be easy to miss this turn-off at night and an inattentive motorist may suddenly find themselves a long way down Highway 129 before they notice their mistake. In order to stay on Highway 101 East, eastbound traffic must turn left and follow Highway 129 North for 8 km, and then turn right onto Highway 101 East just south of Chapleau. Westbound traffic must turn left at the first "T" junction at Highway 129 at Chapleau, and follow Highway 129 South for 8 km. At the next "T" Junction, Highway 101 West turns right and continues on towards Wawa. At the Highway 11 South Junction in Matheson, eastbound traffic must turn left to continue on Highway 101 East to Quebec. Westbound traffic heading to Timmins must turn right at the Highway 11 Junction in Matheson to stay on Highway 101 West.
The speed limit on rural sections of Highway 101 is generally 80 km/h (50 mph), unless posted otherwise. However, the sections of Highway 101 between Wawa and Highway 547 and from Timmins to Matheson are posted at 90 km/h (55 mph). Moose are very common along Highway 101, particularly near Chapleau. These enormous animals can often be seen crossing the highway corridor. This represents a serious collision hazard, because these animals are difficult for motorists to see at night. Slow down and be prepared for moose if you plan to use Highway 101 at night. Please visit the Highway 101 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 101.
Additional Information About King's Highway 101: