History of King's Highway 48:
King's Highway 48 is a major arterial highway which links Markham to Highway 12 near Beaverton. Until the late 1990s, the highway was considerably longer, extending from Toronto to Highway 35 at Coboconk. Large sections of Highway 48 were decommissioned and transferred to local municipalities during the hastily-executed highway downloading of 1997-1998. Nearly 50% of Highway 48 has been lost to either downloading or route renumbering since the late 1990s, so the highway is only 66 km (41 miles) in length today.
Highway 48 was first designated as a provincial highway in the late 1930s. Initially, Highway 48 was just a short connector highway which linked Port Bolster to Highway 12 near Beaverton. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared dated June 26, 1935, indicating the intention of the Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) to assume ownership of the Port Bolster Road as a King's Highway (See Map). This tiny highway was only 10 km (6 miles) in length when it was first assumed as King's Highway 48 by the DHO on March 24, 1937. The original 1937 route of Highway 48 began at the Highway 12 Junction just south of Beaverton, as it existed in 1937. This junction was located at the present-day intersection of Side Road 17 and Durham Road 23. The original 1937 route of Highway 48 ended at the intersection of Lakeridge Road and the present-day route of Highway 48 south of Port Bolster. The original route of Highway 48 was gravel-surfaced for its entire length when it was first assumed in 1937. The highway was paved in its entirety from the Highway 12 Junction to Port Bolster in 1946.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Highway 48 was extended considerably and began to take on a more important role in Ontario's provincial highway network. The highway was extended south from Port Bolster to Toronto along the Markham Road during the 1950s. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared in October 1953, showing the proposed extension of Highway 48 from Port Bolster to Toronto. The Markham Road was officially assumed and designated as Highway 48 on February 10, 1954. The extension added over 70 km to the length of Highway 48 (See Map). The route of Highway 48 ended at the proposed interchange site of the Toronto Bypass (Highway 401) in Scarborough. The majority of the Highway 48 extension was gravel-surfaced at the time of the highway's assumption in 1954. A 10 mile section of the highway from Markham to the Aurora Road at Ballantrae was paved, along with the section from Baldwin to Port Bolster. A bituminous prime surface was applied to the gravel section on Highway 48 between Highway 401 and Markham in 1955. The balance of the highway was paved from Ballantrae to Baldwin in 1956 and 1957.
Highway 48 was extended easterly from Highway 12 to the Highway 46 Junction at Bolsover during the early 1960s. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared in July 1961, showing the proposed extension of Highway 48 along the Portage or Bolsover Road between the Highway 12 Junction at Gamebridge and the Highway 46 Junction at Bolsover. This new route was designated as King's Highway 48 by an Order-in-Council dated July 20, 1961. In order to connect this new section of Highway 48 to the existing southern section from Toronto to Beaverton, Highway 48 was designated concurrently with Highway 12 between Beaverton and Gamebridge. This concurrent routing with Highway 12 also meant that a short section of Highway 48 from Beaverton to Gamebridge was considered to be a part of the Trans-Canada Highway (Central Ontario Route). Following the extension of Highway 48 to Bolsover in 1961, the route of Highway 48 was 102 km (63 miles) in length. In the mid-1960s, a new bypass was constructed around the south side of Beaverton (See Map). The new route for Highway 48 bypassed the awkward old 1930s-era route of Highway 48 through Port Bolster and Beaverton. The Beaverton Bypass was completed and opened to traffic on November 4, 1966. A portion of the old route of Highway 48 through Beaverton was incorporated into the Beaverton Business Loop (Highway 48B) in 1966. However, some portions of the old route of Highway 48 through Port Bolster were deemed to serve only a local purpose and was no longer needed in the provincial highway network. The Port Bolster portion of Old Highway 48 was transferred to municipal authorities, effective April 1, 1968. The old route of Highway 48 through Port Bolster is now known as Durham Road 23. During the 1970s, the junction of Highway 46 and Highway 48 at Bolsover was reconstructed. As a result of the reconstruction, Highway 48 became the through route at the highway junction. In order to improve route continuity, the section of Highway 46 from Bolsover to the Highway 35 Junction at Coboconk was renumbered as Highway 48 in 1975 (See Map). The 1975 highway renumbering added another 26 km to the length of Highway 48, and brought the total length of Highway 48 up to approximately 129 km (80 miles).
Originally, the entire route of Highway 48 from the Highway 12 Junction south of Beaverton to the Highway 401 Interchange in Toronto was under the jurisdiction of the DHO. However, as the southern portions of the highway became more urbanized, the DHO began to transfer ownership of the highway over to the municipal jurisdictions through which the highway passed. The southernmost section of the highway, from the Highway 401 Interchange to the Metropolitan Toronto City Limits at Steeles Avenue, was transferred from the province to Metropolitan Toronto on September 28, 1963. Markham Road continued to be signed as Highway 48 after 1963, despite the fact that the highway was under local jurisdiction. The section of Highway 48 through the Village of Markham between Princess Street and 16th Avenue was transferred to Markham on January 21, 1965. This transferred portion of Highway 48 was subsequently designated as a Municipal Connecting Link on February 11, 1965. On April 1, 1995, a 3 km section of Highway 48 from Steeles Avenue to Princess Street in Markham was transferred to the Regional Municipality of York. York Region renamed this downloaded section of Highway 48 as York Regional Road 68. The Municipal Connecting Link along Highway 48 through the former Village of Markham was repealed by a Minister's Order, dated March 30, 2006. An additional section of Highway 48 from 16th Avenue to Major Mackenzie Drive in Markham was transferred to York Region on March 7, 2007. Like the section of Highway 48 lying south of the former Village of Markham, the downloaded section of Highway 48 north of the former Village of Markham was also renamed as York Regional Road 68. Since 2007, the official southern terminus of Highway 48 has been at the Major Mackenzie Drive intersection, which more or less corresponds to the urbanized limits of the present-day City of Markham.
During the late 1990s, the northern section of Highway 48 also experienced significant changes. The north section of Highway 48 was one of the casualties of the mass highway downloading in Ontario in 1997-1998. On January 1, 1998, the entire 36 km section of Highway 48 between the Highway 12 Junction near Gamebridge and the Highway 35 Junction in Coboconk was transferred to the Regional Municipality of Durham and Victoria County (now the City of Kawartha Lakes). This section of the highway is known now as Durham Highway 48 and Kawartha Lakes Road 48. The former concurrent routing of Highway 12 & Highway 48 near Beaverton was discontinued in 2004, since the route of Highway 48 no longer continued north of Beaverton. As a result of the 2004 highway renumbering, Highway 48 now ends at the Highway 12 Junction south of Beaverton. This has also resulted in a discontinuation of Highway 48 as a Trans-Canada Highway route, since Highway 48 no longer shares a concurrent route with Highway 12.
Highway 48 traverses a mostly rural portion of Central Ontario. The highway passes through a handful of small towns along its 70 km route, but the only large town is Markham, located at the southern end of the highway. Most sections of Highway 48 are two lanes, but there are some short undivided four-lane sections near towns. Passing lanes appear periodically along Highway 48. Services are available quite frequently along this highway. The speed limit on Highway 48 is 80 km/h (50 mph), unless posted otherwise. Please visit the Highway 48 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 48.
Additional Information About King's Highway 48:
Learn More About King's Highway 48 (My Upcoming Publications)
King's Highway 48 - Route Information (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)
King's Highway 48 - A Virtual Tour (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)