Hwy 21 Sign Graphic Hwy 21 Title Graphic Hwy 21 Sign Graphic   

Ontario Highway 21 Quick Facts:
  • Years in Existence: 1927-Present
  • Current Status: In Service
  • Location: Southern Ontario
  • Counties Served: Lambton, Huron, Bruce & Grey
  • Towns Served: Forest, Grand Bend, Bayfield, Goderich, Kincardine, Port Elgin, Southampton & Owen Sound
  • Southern Terminus: Hwy 402 - South of Forest
  • Northern Terminus: Hwy 10 & 26 - Owen Sound
  • Current Length: 227.0 km / 141.0 miles
HWY 21 ROUTE MARKER - © Cameron Bevers
King's Highway 21 Sign © Cameron Bevers

History of King's Highway 21:

King's Highway 21 is a major collector highway which runs along the eastern shores of Lake Huron, linking to several towns including Grand Bend, Goderich, Kincardine and Owen Sound. Until the highway downloading in the late 1990s, the highway was much longer, extending south from Highway 7 to Petrolia, Dresden, Thamesville and Ridgetown. From Owen Sound to Port Franks, Highway 21 is often referred to as the Bluewater Highway. The highway offers motorists many scenic vistas of Lake Huron and its beautiful sunsets. The highway is a very popular tourist route in the summer.

The history of Highway 21 dates back to 1927, when a new provincial highway was designated across Kent and Lambton Counties. The new highway began at Highway 3 in Morpeth and ended at Highway 7 north of Petrolia. The new road was redesignated as King's Highway 21 in 1930. In the mid-1930s, Highway 21 was extended north from Highway 7 through Thedford and Grand Bend to Owen Sound. In the late 1930s, Highway 21 was rerouted through Forest, bypassing Thedford. In the early 1980s, a section of Highway 21 was bypassed by a new freeway known as Highway 402. Highway 21 was redesignated along Highway 402 for a distance of 9 km between Exit #25 and Exit #34. In 1997-1998, the southern portion of Highway 21 from Morpeth to Highway 402 was downloaded to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and Lambton County, shortening the length of Highway 21 by 100 km. The section of Highway 21 from Morpeth to Highway 401 was downloaded on March 31, 1997, while the section lying between Highway 401 and Highway 402 was downloaded on January 1, 1998. The downloaded sections of Highway 21 are now known as Chatham-Kent Road 17 & 21 and Lambton Road 21. The balance of Highway 21 from Highway 402 to Owen Sound was not affected by the highway downloading, although the former concurrent route of Highway 21 and Highway 402 near Petrolia is no longer signed.

Highway 21 traverses a predominantly rural portion of Southwestern Ontario, although it does pass through several towns along its route. The principal towns located along the original highway are Ridgetown, Petrolia, Forest, Grand Bend, Goderich, Kincardine, Port Elgin and Owen Sound. Most sections of Highway 21 are two lanes, but some undivided four-lane sections exist through towns along the highway's 227 km route. Services along Highway 21 are generally quite plentiful, although they become somewhat less frequent outside of major communities north of Grand Bend. The speed limit on Highway 21 is 80 km/h (50 mph), unless posted otherwise. Some of the downloaded sections of Highway 21 within Lambton County are now posted at 90 km/h (55 mph). Please visit the Highway 21 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 21.

Winter Driving Tip: Highway 21 is Ontario's most notorious highway when it comes to winter road conditions, due to its proximity to Lake Huron. The highway is frequently closed during the winter due to blowing and drifting snow, particularly between Goderich and Owen Sound. Blowing snow will often result in zero-visibility conditions, making travel on Highway 21 very difficult and dangerous when blowing and drifting snow conditions exist. The weather conditions on this highway can deteriorate very rapidly when snowsqualls blow in from nearby Lake Huron. On cold, windy days, it is a good idea to check the Road Closures and Winter Road Conditions pages on the Ministry of Transportation's Website, or verify road conditions by telephone at 1-800-268-4686 before using Highway 21. During the winter months, the Ministry of Transportation has signed alternate routes to divert traffic off of Highway 21 and onto more protected inland routes, in the event that an emergency closure of Highway 21 is required.

HYPERLINK TO HWY 21 ROUTE MAP PAGE - © Cameron Bevers             HYPERLINK TO HWY 21 MILEAGE TABLE PAGE - © Cameron Bevers             HYPERLINK TO HWY 21 PHOTOGRAPHS PAGE - © Cameron Bevers

Additional Information About King's Highway 21:

King's Highway 21 - Route Information  (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)

King's Highway 21 - A Virtual Tour  (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)

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