Hwy 70 #1 Hwy 70 #1 Hwy 70 #1   

Ontario Highway 70 (#1) Quick Facts:
  • Years in Existence: 1937-1960
  • Current Status: Renumbered as King's Highway 71 in 1960
  • Current Name: King's Highway 71
  • Location: Northwestern Ontario
  • Districts Served: Rainy River & Kenora
  • Towns Served: Emo, Nestor Falls & Sioux Narrows
  • Southern Terminus: Hwy 71 - West of Emo
  • Northern Terminus: Hwy 17 - Longbow Corners
  • Length in 1960: 156.0 km / 96.9 miles
HWY 70 - © Cameron Bevers
King's Highway 70 Sign © Cameron Bevers

History of King's Highway 70 (#1):

King's Highway 70 was a major highway linking Kenora and Fort Frances from 1937 until 1960. The route of Highway 70 was originally known as the "Heenan Highway", named after Peter Heenan, who was the Minister of Northern Development under Mitch Hepburn's government during the 1930s. Heenen was a big proponent of road construction in Northern Ontario, including the new highway link between Kenora and Fort Frances that was to become Highway 70.

In the 1930s, a trunk road was pushed through Northwestern Ontario to connect the isolated District of Rainy River with Kenora. Construction of the new route began in 1932, and was completed four years later. On July 1, 1936, the last bridge on the Heenan Highway was completed at Sioux Narrows, opening up the first Canadian highway link to the Rainy River District. Until 1936, it was not possible to drive into the Rainy River District from Canada, without passing through the United States. The Department of Highways assumed the section of the Heenan Highway lying within the District of Kenora on September 1, 1937, and designated it as King's Highway 70. On September 29, 1937, the remaining section of the Heenan Highway lying within the District of Rainy River was assumed by the Department of Highways. Originally, Highway 70 was 230 km in length. The highway actually began in Kenora, and ran concurrently with Highway 17 easterly to Longbow Corners. At this junction, Highway 70 turned south from Highway 17 passing along the eastern side of Lake of the Woods. Highway 70 connected to Highway 71 near Emo and then ran concurrently with Highway 71 from Emo easterly to Fort Frances.

In 1938, Highway 70 & Highway 71 was paved from Fort Frances westerly to Devlin. That same year, Highway 17 & Highway 70 was paved from Kenora easterly to Longbow Corners, in addition to a small portion of Highway 70 from Longbow Corners south to Blindfold Lake near Rushing River. In 1944, Highway 70 was paved between Blindfold Lake and Mac Lake. In 1947, Highway 70 was paved from Sioux Narrows southerly for nine miles. The following year, Highway 70 was paved from Mac Lake to Sioux Narrows. The remaining gravel-surfaced section of Highway 70 between Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls was paved in 1949. In 1950, Highway 70 was paved from Nestor Falls to the Highway 70A Junction near Finland. the section from Devlin to Emo was paved as well. In 1952, Highway 70 was relocated onto a new route from Finland southerly to Highway 71. When this new route was opened to traffic in 1952, it bypassed the awkward jog in the highway, and eliminated neighbouring Highway 70A. It also completed the paving work on Highway 70. The north-south portion of the former Highway 70 alignment via Off Lake Corners became a township road, but the bypassed east-west portion of Highway 70 from Finland to Off Lake Corners was later incorporated into the route of Secondary Highway 615. In 1953, the concurrent routings with Highway 17 and Highway 71 were apparently eliminated, shortening the length of Highway 70 down to only 162 km. In the mid-1950s, plans were developed to extend Highway 120 (known later as Highway 11) westerly from Atikokan to Fort Frances. In order to accommodate the arrival of Highway 11, Highway 70 was renumbered as Highway 71 in 1960. A different, unrelated Highway 70 existed near Owen Sound from 1965 to 1997.

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