History of King's Highway 71:
King's Highway 71 is a major collector highway connecting Fort Frances to Highway 17 near Kenora, generally following the eastern shores of Lake of the Woods. The highway passes through some rather remote areas along its 194 km route. The highway serves several small communities, but Emo and Fort Frances are the only major towns located along Highway 71. The highway was first established in the 1930s when the Department of Northern Development constructed a trunk road from Kenora to Fort Frances. This trunk road was originally called the Heenan Highway. The highway was named after Peter Heenan, who was the Minister of Northern Development and a major proponent of highway construction in Northern Ontario. The Heenan Highway was opened in 1936, when the final section of the highway was completed near Sioux Narrows. The highway was officially designated as King's Highway 70 in 1937. In 1960, the original route of Highway 71 from Fort Frances to Rainy River was changed so that the highway turned north towards Kenora at Emo instead of continuing west to Rainy River. The Highway 70 designation was removed entirely from the Kenora to Fort Frances Highway and the road was renumbered as Highway 71. The former route of Highway 71 from Emo to Rainy River was renumbered as Highway 11.
Until recently, the world's longest single span timber bridge stood on Highway 71 at Sioux Narrows. The timber structure was completed in 1936 as a part of the Heenan Highway project. The main span of the Sioux Narrows Bridge was a wooden Howe Truss, comprised entirely of Douglas Fir timbers. The main truss span of the bridge measured 64 metres in length (210 feet) between the piers. The bridge was in service until 2003, when advanced structural fatigue was detected in some of the timber truss members during an engineering inspection. A new bridge was built with a steel beam deck in 2006-2007, but the historic timber truss was preserved and incorporated into the new structure. The timber truss is no longer load-bearing, and is there merely as a decorative feature. While it would have been preferable from a heritage standpoint to preserve the entire structure, the original bridge was no longer safe. The composite steel deck and timber truss design was an excellent compromise, as this proposal addressed the structural deficiencies of the old bridge while still preserving the unique timber truss elements for future generations to enjoy.
Highway 71 is a two-lane highway from Fort Frances to Kenora, although there is a short undivded four-lane section in Fort Frances. Services are not available along Highway 71, other than in major communities, which do not appear very frequently along this highway. Highway 71 is supposedly part of the Trans Canada Highway System, but the highway is no longer signed as a Trans Canada Highway route. A 40 km section of Highway 71 is signed concurrently with Highway 11 between Fort Frances and Emo. Moose are quite common along Highway 71. 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 71 at night. The speed limit on Highway 71 is 90 km/h (55 mph) from Fort Frances to Nestor Falls and 80 km/h (50 mph) from Nestor Falls to Longbow Corners, unless posted otherwise. Please visit the Highway 71 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 71.
Additional Information About King's Highway 71:
Learn More About King's Highway 71 (My Upcoming Publications)
King's Highway 71 - Route Information (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)
King's Highway 71 - A Virtual Tour (At Scott Steeves' website: asphaltplanet.ca)