History of King's Highway 31:
King's Highway 31 was a minor collector highway which passed through the heart of Eastern Ontario. The highway was first established in 1927 when the road from Morrisburg northerly towards Ottawa was designated as a new provincial highway. Provincial Highway 31 was first assumed by the Department of Public Highways on July 2, 1927. The route began at Highway 2 in Morrisburg and ran north for 38 km to the Dundas-Carleton County Boundary. The remainder of the route from the Dundas-Carleton County Boundary to Ottawa remained a county road for nearly a decade after Highway 31 was first designated in 1927. Provincial Highway 31 was redesignated as King's Highway 31 in 1930.
Initially, Highway 31 was only a gravel-surfaced road. The first paving contract was completed in 1931, when Highway 31 was paved from Winchester to the highway's northern terminus at the Dundas-Carleton County Boundary. In 1933, the section from Morrisburg to Williamsburg was paved, and the section from Winchester to Winchester Springs was paved in 1934. The last gravel-surfaced section between Williamsburg and Winchester Springs was paved in 1936. Highway 31 was extended northerly from the Dundas-Carleton County Boundary to Ottawa during 1936. The Department of Highways (DHO) assumed the paved Carleton County Road leading into Ottawa via Vernon and Greeley on July 29, 1936. This extension of Highway 31 brought the total length of the highway up to 78 km. Work began in 1937 on two major revisions to the route of Highway 31 near Vernon. This highway reconstruction project removed several bad curves in the old highway and resulted in the replacement of two bridges over the Castor River. These two diversions, located to the north and south of Vernon, were opened to traffic in 1938 and were paved in 1944.
Several new routes for Highway 31 have been established over the years within the City of Ottawa. Originally, the route of Highway 31 followed Bank Street into Downtown Ottawa, where the highway ended at Wellington Street (Highway 17). A new route debuted in 1940 which had Highway 31 turn east from Bank Street onto Pretoria Avenue, concurrently with Highway 15, Highway 16 and Highway 17. At Rideau Canal Drive (today's Queen Elizabeth Drive), all four highways turned left and continued north into Downtown Ottawa. The existing route of Highway 31 was retained along Bank Street between Pretoria Avenue and Wellington Street, concurrently with a city-signed alternate route for Highway 16. The Highway 31 route along the Rideau Canal was most likely a city-established "scenic" route, as the Department of Highways' post-1940 mileage logs still noted the northern terminus of Highway 31 at the Wellington Street Intersection (Highway 17) in Ottawa with no change in the highway's mileage (48.4 miles). Some post-1940 maps indicate that Highway 31 was signed continuously along Bank Street into Downtown Ottawa, while others indicate that Highway 31 only followed Rideau Canal Drive beyond Pretoria Avenue. Between 1940 and 1946, the Official Ontario Road Map shows the two routes of Highway 31 leading into Downtown Ottawa, but the continuous Bank Street route was omitted from maps dated between 1947 and 1954. It is not clear if the Bank Street route was actually signed after 1947, but it is quite likely that the routes continued to be signed even though they were omitted from the Official Ontario Road Maps. In 1955, a new route was established for Highway 31 that had the highway turn directly onto Rideau Canal Drive from Bank Street. The old route via Bank Street and Pretoria Avenue was omitted on the 1955 Official Ontario Road Map. However, in 1956, the old continuous route of Highway 31 via Bank Street was restored, as it was prior to 1947. The route of Highway 31 was marked this way on Official Road Maps up until 1960, when all scenic routes of Highway 31 were apparently eliminated. The post-1960 route of Highway 31 followed Bank Street to Heron Road, where it turned westerly towards Bronson Avenue. The highway then followed Bronson Avenue northerly to Highway 31's new northern terminus at the intersection of Bronson Avenue and Carling Avenue (Highway 17).
There is contradictory information regarding the northern terminus of Highway 31 in Ottawa between 1964 and 1998. When the Ottawa Queensway (Highway 417) was opened to traffic between Carling Avenue and Bronson Avenue on May 15, 1964, it appears that Highway 31 was extended north along Bronson Avenue from the highway's old northern terminus at the intersection of Bronson Avenue and Carling Avenue to The Queensway Interchange. This northern terminus at The Queensway is shown on all Official Ontario Road Maps, with the solitary exception of the 1977 Edition. The 1977 Official Ontario Road Map shows that Highway 31 continued north from The Queensway along Bronson Avenue and Booth Street to the Ontario-Quebec Boundary at the Chaudiere Bridge. The City of Ottawa has always maintained the urban portions of Highway 31 within the city limits, so it is rather difficult to determine where the "official" end of Highway 31 actually was. To complicate matters further, the Official MTO mileage logs from 1970 through to 1997 indicate that Highway 31 continued north along Bronson Avenue to the Chaudiere Bridge. However, the supposed Highway 31 route to the Chaudiere Bridge has probably not been signed as Highway 31 for many years (if it ever was at all), so it has been assumed that Highway 31 did indeed end at The Queensway (Highway 417) from 1964 right up until the time Highway 31 was downloaded in 1998. Apart from the Winchester Bypass which opened in 1974, only a few minor realignments were built on Highway 31 since the 1930s. Highway 31 was downloaded in its entirety on January 1, 1998. The former highway's new names are Ottawa Roads 31, 16, and 85 and Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry County Road 31.
Apart from Ottawa, Highway 31 passes through a predominantly rural area. The principal towns located along the highway are Ottawa, Winchester and Morrisburg. Most sections of Highway 31 are two lanes, but the highway is four lanes approaching Ottawa. Services along Highway 31 are generally quite plentiful near Ottawa, but services become somewhat sporadic towards the southern end of the highway. Even though it is no longer a provincial highway, the rural section of the route between Ottawa and Morrisburg is still commonly referred to as "Highway 31" by motorists. The speed limit on Highway 31 is 80 km/h (50 mph), unless posted otherwise. Please visit the Highway 31 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 31.
Additional Information About King's Highway 31:
Learn More About King's Highway 31 (My Upcoming Publications)
King's Highway 31 - Route Information (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)
King's Highway 31 - A Virtual Tour (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)