Hwy 103 Hwy 103 Hwy 103   

Ontario Highway 103 Quick Facts:
  • Years in Existence: 1944-1976
  • Current Status: Renumbered as King's Highway 69 in 1976
  • Current Names: King's Highway 69 & King's Highway 400
  • Location: Central Ontario
  • Counties Served: Simcoe & Muskoka
  • Towns Served: Waubaushene, Port Severn & MacTier
  • Northern Terminus: Hwy 69 - Foote's Bay
  • Southern Terminus: Hwy 12 - Waubaushene
  • Length in 1976: 48.1 km / 29.9 miles
HWY 103 - © Cameron Bevers
King's Highway 103 Sign © Cameron Bevers

History of King's Highway 103:

PLEASE NOTE: On July 19, 1944, the Department of Highways assumed a 10 km road leading north to Port Severn from Waubaushene. The road mysteriously shows up in mid-1940s DHO mileage logs as a portion of Highway 12, when in fact the road was identified as Highway 103 on most maps from that time period. It is not certain whether this was a typographical error in the mileage logs, or whether this section of highway was in fact known as Highway 12 or some auxiliary route thereof for a brief time. If anyone can confirm how the Waubaushene-Port Severn Highway was actually signed during the mid-1940s, it would be greatly appreciated. For the purposes of this project, it has been assumed that the route was known as Highway 103 since it was first commissioned in 1944.

This highway began very humbly as a tiny connector road between Highway 12 at Waubaushene and Port Severn. It was scarcely 10 km long when in was first commissioned on July 19, 1944. However, this tiny road had a very important future ahead of it. During the early 1950s, the routing of the Trans-Canada Highway was being mapped out. The proposed route of the Trans-Canada Highway passed through Central Ontario from Ottawa along Highway 7 and Highway 12 and then headed north along Highway 69 to meet up with the main western leg of the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 17) in Sudbury. It was suggested that the Trans-Canada Highway should be constructed on a new alignment through the District of Muskoka. The main highway into the district was already overburdened by regular cottage country traffic, and adding the Trans Canada Highway traffic to this route would only make matters worse. The bottleneck in question was the Highway 11 & Highway 69 bridge at Severn River, which was the only highway route connecting Southern Muskoka and Toronto. At that time, no other highway crossed the Severn River, and it was decided that a new route should be constructed to link Highway 69 at MacTier and Highway 12 at Waubaushene. The easiest solution to the routing problem was to extend Highway 103 northerly from Port Severn to meet up with Highway 69 at Foote's Bay, near MacTier. Work began on a northerly extension of Highway 103 in 1955. The new, completely paved highway passed by Port Severn on a series of new bridges across the Severn River and Matchedash Bay. The new 36 km extension was completed in 1958. In 1960, Highway 103 was officially incorporated into the Trans-Canada Highway system.

In 1965, Highway 103 was extended southerly for 8 km concurrently with Highway 12 to the junction with Highway 400. This was done presumably to guide travelers onto the rather confusing Trans-Canada routing (drivers from Toronto had to go north on the 400, west on 12, north on 103, and then north on 69!) This co-designation was short lived, however. In 1968, the overlapped routing of Highway 12 & Highway 103 was discontinued (thus shortening Highway 103 back to 46 km.) In order to improve the logic of the area's highway numbering, Highway 69 assumed the entire routing of Highway 103 in 1976. This effectively wiped Highway 103 off the map.

An interesting error took place during the construction of Highway 103 in 1956. The original planned site for the Moon River Bridge was actually several hundred metres east of the present-day bridge. An alignment for the highway was cleared, and rock cuts were blasted through several small hills along the route. Department of Highways engineers were surprised to learn after this initial work took place that the soil at the proposed bridge site was totally inadequate to safely support the proposed Highway 103 structure. The entire alignment on the north and south banks of the Moon River had to be abandoned, and a new bridge was constructed further downstream. The old alignment is still somewhat visible from the current highway, but it is rather overgrown. However, disused concrete culverts under the abandoned highway can still be seen from at least one point along the realigned highway. The old rock cuts are still quite obvious along the path that was at one time the alignment cleared for the new highway. Blasted rock from the rock cuts can be seen along the banks of the Moon River, where the ill-fated original bridge was supposed to be constructed.

HWY 103 ROUTE MAP - © Cameron Bevers             HWY 103 PHOTOGRAPHS - © Cameron Bevers

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