History of King's Highway 52:
King's Highway 52 was a minor collector highway near Hamilton that existed up until 1997. The highway was first designated in 1937-1938 and had one of the strangest highway routings in Ontario's history. The highway began at Highway 2 & Highway 53 just west of Ancaster and ran north to the Highway 8 Junction at Peters Corners. Historically, Highway 52 continued north beyond Peters Corners towards the Wellington-Wentworth County Boundary. The route of Highway 52 ran concurrently with Highway 8 for about 7 km to Rockton. Highway 52 then resumed its journey north through Wentworth County, where it ended inexplicably at the Wellington-Wentworth County Boundary about 15 km south of Guelph.
The first section of Highway 52 to be designated was the Rockton-Kirkwall Road. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared dated May 18, 1937, which illustrated a proposed King's Highway through Wentworth County. The route began at Highway 8 at Rockton and ran northerly for 13 km to the Wellington-Wentworth County Boundary via Kirkwall. This section of Highway 52 was first assumed by the Department of Highways (DHO) on September 1, 1937. The highway's northern terminus at the Wellington-Wentworth County Boundary was an anomaly of the Ontario provincial highway system for 50 years following the highway's designation, in that the highway seemingly ended in the middle of nowhere. Even though there was a Wellington County Road that linked Highway 52's northern terminus to Downtown Guelph, there is no evidence that suggests that the DHO ever had any intention of designating this road in Wellington County as an extension to Highway 52. A second Preliminary Route Plan was prepared dated October 2, 1937, which illustrated a proposed extension to Highway 52 in Wentworth County. The proposed route extended south from Peters Corners to Highway 2 & Highway 53 near Ancaster. The DHO assumed the Copetown Road from the Highway 8 Junction at Peters Corners to the Highways 2 & Highway 53 Junction on April 13, 1938, a distance of 10 km. In order to unite the north and south sections of this highway, Highway 52 was co-designated alongside the route of Highway 8 for about 7 km between Peters Corners and Rockton.
Improvements to Highway 52 came about very slowly. The highway was in very poor condition when it was assumed by the DHO. With the exception of the concurrent routing along Highway 8, the highway was narrow and gravel-surfaced from Copetown to the highway's northern terminus at the Wellington-Wentworth County Boundary. The section of Highway 52 south of Copetown was even worse; it was an unimproved earth-surfaced road and remained that way throughout World War II. In fact, conditions on this unimproved section of Highway 52 south of Copetown were so poor that the DHO's official road condition bulletins in the early 1940s actually warned drivers not to use Highway 52 between Copetown and the Junction of Highway 2 & Highway 53 during wet weather because the road was reportedly impassable. A diversion was constructed in 1943 to improve the highway alignment at a level railway crossing south of Copetown. This project involved the relocation of about one kilometre of Highway 52. The entire highway was surfaced with primed gravel in 1945 so that the highway could be traversed in wet weather. Highway 52 was paved from Copetown to Peters Corners in 1953 and from Highway 97 to the Highway 8 Junction at Rockton in 1954. Highway 52 was paved from Copetown southerly to the Highway 2 & Highway 53 Junction in 1955. The final gravel section on Highway 52 from Highway 97 northerly to the Wellington-Wentworth County Boundary was paved in 1958. In June 1959, the Rockton Bypass was completed and opened to traffic. The old route of Highway 8 & Highway 52 through Rockton was renumbered as Highway 8B & Highway 52B.
The route of Highway 52 remained virtually unchanged until the 1980s, when the northern section of Highway 52 was decommissioned in several stages. The last remaining section of Highway 97 through the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth was decommissioned on August 16, 1984. The transfer of Highway 97 to Hamilton-Wentworth severed the northern section of Highway 52 into two discontinuous segments. Previously, a short concurrent routing between Highway 52 and Highway 97 had existed north of Kirkwall, where Highway 52 jogged over to the next concession line. The next segment of Highway 52 to be downloaded was the piece between Rockton and the former Highway 97 Junction north of Kirkwall. This section of Highway 52 was transferred to Hamilton-Wentworth on April 24, 1986. At that time, the concurrent designation of Highway 52 alongside Highway 8 between Rockton and Peters Corners was discontinued. The Highway 52 designation was also removed on the remaining section of the highway from Highway 97 northerly to the Wellington-Wentworth County Boundary, shortening Highway 52 to a total length of only 10.5 km. The 2 km northern segment of Highway 52 near the Wellington-Wentworth Boundary was temporarily re-designated as an unposted 7000-series highway number (Highway 7199) until the transfer of this short section of former Highway 52 could be negotiated. Highway 7199 was finally transferred to Hamilton-Wentworth on June 24, 1993. The balance of Highway 52 from Peters Corners to the Junction of Highway 2 & Highway 53 was downloaded to Hamilton-Wentworth on March 31, 1997.
In 2012, the awkward "triple crossroads" intersection at Peters Corners was completely reconstructed. Highway 8 was realigned so that it met Highway 52 at a four-leg modern roundabout. The eastern leg of Former Highway 8 leading into Dundas was also realigned in order to separate it from the new roundabout. The new Peters Corners Roundabout was the very first multi-lane modern roundabout ever built on an Ontario provincial highway, and only the third roundabout completed on the provincial highway system. The new Peters Corners Roundabout was officially opened to traffic on October 4, 2012, although eastbound Highway 8 traffic had been using a portion of the roundabout's circulatory roadway since September 15, 2012, due to construction staging.
Although it is no longer a provincial highway, the road's legal name is still "Highway 52". The northern sections of Highway 52 that were transferred to Hamilton-Wentworth between 1984 and 1993 are known today as Kirkwall Road, Beverly Road and Cooper Road. Highway 52 is a two-lane road for its entire length. There are no major communities located along Highway 52 itself, although the highway now lies entirely within the new City of Hamilton boundaries. Services are not available on Highway 52 itself, but services are available just east of Peters Corners on Highway 5. The speed limit on Highway 52 is 70 km/h (45 mph), unless posted otherwise. Please visit the Highway 52 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 52.
Additional Information About King's Highway 52: