Hwy 599 Hwy 599 Hwy 599   

Ontario Highway 599 Quick Facts:
  • Years in Existence: 1956-Present
  • Current Status: In Service
  • Location: Northwestern Ontario
  • Districts Served: Kenora & Thunder Bay
  • Towns Served: Ignace, Savant Lake, Central Patricia & Pickle Lake
  • Southern Terminus: Hwy 17 - Ignace
  • Northern Terminus: Former Hwy 808 Junction - Central Patricia
  • Current Length: 291.6 km / 181.1 miles
HWY 599 - © Cameron Bevers
Secondary Highway 599 Sign © Cameron Bevers

History of Secondary Highway 599:

Secondary Highway 599 is a minor collector highway connecting Highway 17 at Ignace to Central Patricia and Pickle Lake. It is currently Ontario's most northern provincial highway. The northern terminus of Highway 599 lies only 500 km (310 miles) south of Hudson Bay. The highway traverses an extremely remote and sparsely populated region. There are no communities of any significant size along Highway 599's route, other than Ignace and Central Patricia and Pickle Lake. The highway was originally a supply road built to service the booming gold mines around the Pickle Lake area. The road ran from the CN railway line at Savant Lake northerly to Central Patricia and then easterly to the mines at Pickle Crow. The road opened in 1955, and it was assumed by the Department of Highways as Highway 599 in 1956. What made the 171 km highway especially odd was that it did not physically connect to the rest of Ontario's highway system. For several years after it opened, it was not possible to access Highway 599 by automobile. However, the original purpose of this road was to facilitate the movement of equipment and supplies to the mines, which had previously been served exclusively by airplane. In 1958, construction began on a southerly extension of Highway 599, which would eventually link it to Highway 17 at Ignace. The construction progress was very slow, hampered by the extreme remoteness of the area. By 1962, a road had been completed from Savant Lake southerly to Valora. In 1963, the Valora-Ignace Industrial Road was completed. The completion of this Industrial Road finally provided a permanent access road from Highway 17 to Pickle Lake. In 1965, Highway 599 was completed between Valora and Ignace, bypassing the meandering portions of the Valora-Ignace Industrial Road. In 1963, construction began on a northerly extension of Highway 599. At Central Patricia, the highway was pushed even further north. The bypassed portion of Highway 599 leading to the Pickle Crow Mine became Highway 646. The extension of Highway 599 was completed to the Otoskwin River in 1966. The completed highway was 360 km long.

On December 6, 1966, the northernmost 60 km portion of Highway 599 from Central Patricia to Otoskwin River was re-designated as Highway 808. This shortened the highway back to a length of 300 km. Further realignments in later years brought the length of the highway down to its current length of 292 km. Paving operations began on Highway 599 in 1973. By 1974, the highway was paved from Ignace to the O'Brien's Landing area, and from Osnaburgh House northerly to Central Patricia. Shorter paved sections also existed near Savant Lake and near Pashkokogan Lake. Paving was completed between Savant Lake and Central Patricia in 1981 and 1982. The last gravel section on Highway 599 north of O'Brien's Landing was paved over in 1983. Despite Highway 599's reputation as Ontario's most remote highway, it is an excellent road that is maintained year-round.

Highway 599 is a paved two-lane road for its entire length, with a posted speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph). Services on this highway are very infrequent. Gasoline is available in Ignace, at Silver Dollar (at the Highway 642 Junction), at Moose Creek Camp (10 km north of Silver Dollar), at Savant Lake, at Latto Air Services (12 km north of the Highway 516 Junction), at New Osnaburgh, and at Central Patricia/Pickle Lake. None of these establishments offer 24-hour service, so care must be taken if you plan to use the highway outside of normal business hours. Moose are quite common along Highway 599. These enormous animals can often be seen crossing the highway corridor. This represents a serious collision hazard, because these animals are difficult for motorists to see at night. Slow down and be prepared for moose if you plan to use Highway 599 at night.

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