History of King's Highway 105:
King's Highway 105 is a remote collector highway which connects Red Lake and the surrounding communities with Highway 17 at Vermilion Bay. For almost a decade after its construction, Highway 105 was the northernmost road in the province. Even today, Highway 105 is the second most northern King's Highway in the province. It is surpassed only by neighbouring Highway 125, which serves the communities of Balmertown and Cochenour just a short distance to the north of Red Lake. Highway 105 passes through an extremely remote and sparsely populated region of Northwestern Ontario. In fact, the community of Ear Falls, located about half-way between Red Lake and Vermilion Bay, is the only town of any significant size along the Red Lake Road.
The Red Lake Road (Highway 105) owes its entire existence to the gold that was discovered on this remote northern lake in 1926. The highway had been envisioned in the 1930s, when the Red Lake Gold Rush was at its peak. The amount of gold found in Red Lake far exceeded what most prospectors and geologists had first suspected. The need for a new highway to the area was quite clear, but the remoteness of Red Lake combined with the Ontario Government's strangled Depression-era finances, the road seemed unfeasible. For the entire decade, miners and their families were connected to the outside world only by airplane and canoe. In 1942, Canada removed mining from its list of "protected" wartime industries. All of the Red Lake miners marched off to war, and for a number of years, the need for a road to Red Lake was diminished. However, at the end of World War II, the mines in Red Lake began to produce gold again in enormous quantities. Armed with a huge post-war road construction budget, the Department of Highways quickly constructed a road from Vermilion Bay to Red Lake between 1945 and 1947. The new gravel highway was officially opened to traffic on August 27, 1947, and it was assigned the designation of King's Highway 105. The highway was paved in 1963. Over the years, road straightening and realignment trimmed the length of Hwy 105 down to its current length of 173.7 km. To this day, Highway 105 remains one of the most isolated roads in the province.
Generally speaking, Highway 105 is a good quality paved two-lane road between Vermilion Bay and Red Lake. However, there are some winding sections near Cliff Lake, and the highway has very narrow shoulders in some places. Unless posted otherwise, the speed limit on Highway 105 is 80 km/h (50 mph). Services are very scarce along Highway 105. Gasoline is only available in Vermilion Bay, Ear Falls and Red Lake. The distance between gas stations from Vermilion Bay to Ear Falls is about 100 km (60 miles), with a slightly smaller 75 km (45 mile) gap existing between Ear Falls and Red Lake. There are no 24-hour gas stations located along Highway 105, and cellular phone service along the highway corridor is intermittent at best. Drivers should be prudent and fill up before setting out on this remote highway. Moose are quite common along Highway 105. 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 105 at night. Please visit the Highway 105 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 105.
Additional Information About King's Highway 105:
Learn More About King's Highway 105 (My Upcoming Publications)
King's Highway 105 - Route Information (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)
King's Highway 105 - A Virtual Tour (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)