History of King's Highway 9:
King's Highway 9 is a major arterial highway which connects Orangeville with Highway 400 near Newmarket. The highway also has a discontinuous western section which extends from Harriston to Kincardine. Up until the late 1990s, these two discontinuous segments of Highway 9 formed one single highway link, stretching nearly 200 km from Kincardine to Newmarket. Highway 9 passes through a predominantly rural area, occasionally passing through some small and mid-sized towns along its route. The principal towns located along the highway are Kincardine, Walkerton, Harriston, Orangeville and Schomberg.
The history of Highway 9 dates back to 1920, when the Department of Public Highways of Ontario (DPHO) assumed ownership of an existing road which passed through the Counties of Wellington, Huron and Bruce. In June 1920, Preliminary Route Plans were prepared for the various sections of the new road, which began in Kincardine and extended southeasterly to Arthur, via Walkerton, Harriston and Teviotdale. The DPHO acquired the Kincardine-Arthur Road on July 8, 1920, when it was officially designated as an Ontario Provincial Highway. Sections of the road passing through Kincardine, Harriston and Arthur were not assumed by the DPHO and thus those sections of the route remained under municipal jurisdiction. The new Kincardine-Arthur Highway was 109 km (67.5 miles) in length, including the municipally-owned sections within towns (See Map). The Kincardine-Arthur Highway was later designated as Provincial Highway 9, when highway route numbering was introduced in Ontario in 1925. Provincial Highway 9 was renamed King's Highway 9 in 1930.
When Highway 9 was first assumed, the entire length of the highway was either earth or gravel surfaced. Paving work began along Highway 9 between Kincardine and Walkerton in 1926, and between Walkerton and Arthur in 1927. The last gravel section on Highway 9 between Walkerton and Arthur was paved in 1931, and the final gravel section remaining along Highway 9 between Kincardine and Walkerton was paved in 1935.
In the early 1930s, Highway 9 was extended easterly from the highway's original eastern terminus in Arthur. In January 1930, a Preliminary Route Plan was prepared showing an extension of the Provincial Highway from Arthur easterly to Orangeville through Wellington and Dufferin Counties. The DPHO acquired ownership of the existing Arthur-Orangeville Road on March 12, 1930, when it was assumed as a new section of Highway 9. The section of Highway 9 passing through Orangeville was not assumed by the DPHO, and thus that section of the route remained under municipal jurisdiction. The revised length of the highway following the 1930 extension was 145 km (90 miles). In 1931, a new King's Highway was assumed by the Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) between Primrose and Cookstown, via Alliston. Preliminary Route Plans were prepared in April and May of 1931, showing the planned assumption of the existing road from Primrose to Cookstown through Dufferin and Simcoe Counties. On May 27, 1931, the DHO acquired ownership of the Primrose-Cookstown Road, when the 23 mile route was assumed as a new King's Highway. The sections of the route passing through Alliston and Cookstown were not assumed by the DHO. Curiously, the DHO decided to number the new Primrose-Cookstown Highway as an extension of Highway 9. In order to connect the eastern and western legs of the highway, Highway 9 was routed concurrently with Highway 10 between Orangeville and Primrose. The overlapped route of Highway 9 & Highway 10 between Orangeville and Primrose lasted for several years during the 1930s, until it was discontinued as a result of a renumbering of highway routes in this area in 1937. The revised length of the highway was 201 km (125 miles) following the 1931 extension (See Map). The extension of Highway 9 from Arthur to Orangeville was gravel-surfaced at the time it was assumed in 1930. Paving work began along Highway 9 between Arthur and Orangeville in 1931. The final gravel section remaining along Highway 9 between the two towns was paved in 1934.
Throughout the 1930s, Highway 27 was gradually extended from Barrie southerly towards Toronto. The DHO began to look at opportunities to connect Orangeville directly to Highway 27, in an effort to improve highway connections in the area. Preliminary Route Plans were prepared in March and April of 1936, indicating the DHO's intention to assume the existing Orangeville-Schomberg Road in Dufferin, Peel, York and Simcoe Counties as a new King's Highway. The DHO acquired ownership of the 21 mile Orangeville-Schomberg Road on February 10, 1937. Following the assumption of this highway, the DHO decided to change the route of Highway 9 so that it connected to Highway 27 at Schomberg instead of the previous route connection in Cookstown. The old route of Highway 9 from Primrose to Cookstown was renumbered as Highway 89 in 1937. The overlapped routing of Highway 9 & Highway 10 between Orangeville and Primrose which had existed since 1931 was discontinued altogether. The revised length of Highway 9 was 182 km (113 miles) following the 1937 route renumbering (See Map). The extension of Highway 9 from Orangeville to Schomberg was gravel-surfaced at the time it was assumed in 1937. This section of the highway was paved in its entirety in 1954.
The completion of Highway 400 between Toronto and Barrie in the early 1950s began to affect long-distance traffic patterns in the area. At the time Highway 400 was built, there were no east-west provincial highway routes in the area north of Highway 7 and south of Highway 88. Traffic bound for Toronto on Highway 9 had to either use the Lloydtown-Aurora Road (a York County Road) or travel north to Highway 88 in order to access Highway 400. The DHO sought to improve the connection to Highway 400, by extending Highway 9 easterly from Highway 27 near Schomberg to Highway 11 in Newmarket. A Preliminary Assumption Plan was prepared and registered on July 23, 1965, showing the DHO's proposed assumption of York County Road 31 from the Highway 400 Overpass to Newmarket. The existing route of York County Road 31 from Highway 400 to Newmarket was designated as a King's Highway by an Order-in-Council on August 19, 1965, thus extending the route of Highway 9 by approximately 8 miles. However, this briefly created a gap in Highway 9 across the Holland Marsh (See Map). Another Preliminary Assumption Plan was prepared and registered in September 1966, showing the DHO's proposed assumption of the remainder of York County Road 31 west of the Highway 400 Overpass and the road allowance which connected through to Highway 27. This section of Highway 9 from Highway 400 to Highway 27 was designated as a King's Highway by an Order-in-Council on October 6, 1966. Although legally designated, the route of Highway 9 remained discontinuous between Highway 400 and Highway 27 for a few years while the road was being reconstructed. Some historical sources indicate that the highway was opened to traffic from Highway 27 to Newmarket in June, 1968. Others suggest that the extension of Highway 9 was actually opened to traffic in 1969, and officially completed when reconstruction wrapped up in 1970. For several years, there was no interchange between Highway 9 and Highway 400, although ramps connecting the two highways were eventually constructed here in 1969. The extension from Schomberg to Newmarket essentially completed Highway 9, and brought the total length of the route up to 192 km (See Map).
A DHO Planning Study completed in 1970 identified the need for a new provincial highway extending northerly from Walkerton. The study concluded that the "major desired line of travel" through Bruce County was not served by any existing provincial highways. The study recommended an extension of Highway 9 from Walkerton northerly to Highway 21 near Southampton, in order to better serve traffic bound for this part of Bruce County. The proposed extension of Highway 9 would have generally followed the route of Bruce County Road 3 northerly from Walkerton to Southampton, via Paisley. However, the plan to extend Highway 9 never advanced beyond the early planning stages. Presumably, this was because of other area road improvements during the 1970s triggered by the nearby Bruce Nuclear Power Development. The economic boom which resulted from the power development led to the construction of a much-improved county road network in the area. These county road improvements seem to have at least partially supplanted the need for a new provincial highway. As a result, the route of Highway 9 remained unchanged until 1998.
On January 1, 1998, the entire section of Highway 9 between Harriston and Orangeville was downloaded to the Counties of Dufferin and Wellington. The highway transfer resulted in the loss of 63 km of Highway 9 under provincial jurisdiction, in addition to the 5 km of non-assumed portions of the route passing through Orangeville and Harriston. The downloaded section of Highway 9 is now officially known as Wellington Road 109 and Dufferin Road 109. On September 1, 1999, another section of Highway 9 was downloaded between Highway 400 and Newmarket. This section is now known as York Regional Road 31. This rather short-sighted highway download left this important route carved up into two separate pieces. The eastern section of Highway 9 extends from Highway 400 to Highway 10 in Orangeville (See Map), while the discontinuous western section runs from Highway 89 in Harriston to Highway 21 in Kincardine (See Map). The two sections are separated by a 68 km "gap", in which the former provincial highway was supplanted by a municipally-owned county road. This is probably one of the most bizarre situations that resulted from the mass 1997-1998 provincial highway downloading. The situation is very confusing for motorists, who now have to negotiate this "gap" in Highway 9 without the aid of provincial highway signs. Highway 9 is often cited as an example by opponents of highway downloading, to demonstrate the thoughtlessness of the municipal highway transfers of the 1990s. Attempts to resolve this odd highway route numbering were unsuccessful. In the early 2000s, the Ministry of Transportation's Highway Numbering Committee studied various options to renumber the discontinuous western leg of Highway 9 as an extension of Highway 89, or to renumber the route as Highway 109. It was ultimately decided that renumbering the western leg of Highway 9 would have too great of an impact on area residents and businesses, and it was thus decided to leave the existing discontinuous route numbering in place.
Highway 9 is mostly a two-lane highway, with some undivided four-lane sections situated near towns. The former section of Highway 9 between Highway 400 and Newmarket is a four-lane undivided highway. Passing lanes appear periodically along Highway 9, particularly between Schomberg and Orangeville. Services along Highway 9 are generally quite plentiful, except in some of the rural areas between Kincardine and Orangeville, where services are somewhat scarce outside of major communities. Unless posted otherwise, the speed limit on Highway 9 is 80 km/h (50 mph).
Winter Driving Tip: The western section of Highway 9 is known for poor winter road conditions. The highway is sometimes closed during periods of poor winter weather between Walkerton and Kincardine, due to blowing and drifting snow. Blowing snow will often result in zero-visibility conditions. The weather conditions on this highway can deteriorate very rapidly when snowsqualls blow in from nearby Lake Huron. On cold, windy days, it is a good idea to check the Road Closures and Winter Road Conditions pages on the Ministry of Transportation's Website, or verify road conditions by telephone at 1-800-268-4686 or 5-1-1 before using the western portion of Highway 9.
Additional Information About King's Highway 9: