Hwy 18 Hwy 18 Hwy 18   

Ontario Highway 18 Quick Facts:
  • Years in Existence: 1930-1998
  • Current Status: Decommissioned in 1998
  • Current Name: Essex Road 20 & Essex Road 45
  • Location: Southern Ontario
  • Counties Served: Essex
  • Towns Served: Windsor, LaSalle, Amherstburg, Harrow, Kingsville & Leamington
  • Length in 1997 (Before Downloading): 80.2 km / 49.8 miles
  • Eastern Terminus: Hwy 3 & Hwy 77 - Leamington
  • Northern Terminus: Hwy 3 - Windsor
HWY 18
King's Highway 18 Sign © Josh Anderchek

History of King's Highway 18:

King's Highway 18 was a major collector highway servicing the towns south of Windsor and west of Leamington. The highway was established in 1930 and existed right up until 1998, when it was formally decommissioned as a King's Highway.

The modern route of King's Highway 18 is actually much different than the original highway's route that was first designated in the early 1930s. In 1930, a new King's Highway was assumed east of Windsor. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared on March 21, 1930, showing a proposed King's Highway that ran due east along the existing Base Line Road from Windsor to Tilbury. The proposed highway ran just a short distance north of the existing route of Highway 2, but it offered a much more direct route between the two destinations. The province acquired the new 55 km (34 mile) Windsor-Tilbury Highway on June 11, 1930, when the new route was assumed as King's Highway 18 (See Map). The new highway followed the present-day route of Essex County Road 42 from Windsor to Tilbury. The route was only paved from Tilbury to Belle River at first, but the remainder of the route was paved in its entirety by 1934. The new Highway 18 was intended to serve as an alternate route to Highway 2 between Tilbury and Windsor. However, the new Highway 18 was far more direct than the existing route of Highway 2. In fact, Highway 18 shortened the highway distance between Windsor and Tilbury by 5 km. In anticipation of the new highway becoming the preferred route to Windsor by motorists, the Ontario Department of Highways (DHO) quickly decided to renumber Highway 18 as Highway 2 in 1931. At the same time, the original route of Highway 2 between Windsor and Tilbury was renumbered as Highway 2A.

It might have appeared for a moment in 1931 that the route of Highway 18 was going to vanish entirely. However, the route of Highway 18 was already in the process of being extended south at the time of the 1931 route renumbering. As a result, the Highway 18 designation was merely relocated onto a new route. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared on November 16, 1931, showing a proposed King's Highway extending south from Windsor towards Amherstburg. From there, the proposed highway turned east towards Leamington. The route was acquired by the DHO on December 16th, 1931, and was designated as King's Highway 18 (See Map). Sections of the road passing through Sandwich, La Salle, Amherstburg, Harrow, Kingsville and Leamington were not assumed by the DHO and thus those sections of the route remained under municipal jurisdiction.

The new route of Highway 18 from Windsor to Leamington was 79 km (49 miles) in length, and was paved except for a gravel section between Amherstburg and Kingsville. The highway started at Highway 3A (later known as Highway 3B) at the entrance to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and ran south and eventually east to join Highway 3 in Leamington. In 1934, Highway 18 was paved from Harrow to Kingsville, and from Amherstburg easterly to Malden Centre. The final gravel section of Highway 18 from Malden Centre to Harrow was paved in 1936. Highway 18 was rebuilt as a four-lane divided highway between Windsor and La Salle in the late 1930s. It was among the earliest dual highways ever constructed in Ontario.

The route of Highway 18 did not change much over the next 50 years. In the early 1980s, the E.C. Row Expressway was extended westerly from Highway 3 (Huron Church Road) out to Highway 18 (Ojibway Parkway) south of Windsor. Official Ontario Road Maps printed after 1981 indicate that Highway 18 ended at Highway 3 (Huron Church Road) and the E.C. Row Expressway. On the 1981 and prior editions, Highway 18 is shown as following the old route into Downtown Windsor via Sandwich Street and Riverside Drive. The old route of Highway 18, which was under municipal jurisdiction by that point, was noticeably absent on the 1982 Edition. Instead, the route of Highway 18 followed the proposed E.C. Row Expressway extension out to Highway 3. The E.C. Row Expressway extension was officially completed and opened to traffic on June 9, 1983. Curiously, the Ministry of Transportation's mileage logs for Highway 18 still showed the route of Highway 18 as ending at the Highway 3B Junction in Downtown Windsor as recently as 1997. However, I have assumed that the Official Road Map shows the route of Highway 18 correctly, following the E.C. Row Expressway and ending at Highway 3.

On March 31, 1997, Highway 18 was downloaded from Essex Road 45 (Union Avenue) near Ruthven to Leamington. Highway 18 was temporarily rerouted via Union Avenue, and ended at Highway 3 in Ruthven. This new section of Highway 18 had previously been in the provincial highway system between 1937 and 1970, as Highway 18B and Highway 107. This rerouting was only a temporary necessity, as the rest of Highway 18 was downloaded to Essex County on January 1, 1998. The highway is now known as Essex County Road 20.

HWY 18 ROUTE MAP - © Cameron Bevers             HWY 18 MILEAGE TABLE - © Cameron Bevers             HWY 18 PHOTOGRAPHS - © Cameron Bevers

Additional Information About King's Highway 18:

Learn More About King's Highway 18  (My Upcoming Publications)

King's Highway 18 - Route Information  (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)

King's Highway 18 - A Virtual Tour  (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)

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