Hwy 70 Signs Hwy 410   

Queen Elizabeth Way Signs (Used from 1939 to Present)

The QEW signs are different from the standard King's Highway signs. In 1939, a special crown shield design was introduced for the QEW. The signs bore the lettering "ER", a Latin abbreviation for "Elizabeth Regina" (meaning Queen Elizabeth). The signs were yellow in colour, with blue lettering. In 1955, new signs were installed on the QEW, removing the old "ER" letter combination. The new signs had the acronym "QEW" in blue lettering on a fluorescent yellow background. Around 1997, the MTO began replacing the fluorescent yellow QEW signs with new signs which had a deep yellow-orange background colour. The font of the lettering was redesigned and the blue colour was made slightly lighter. The dimensions of modern (post-1955) QEW signs are 64 cm by 45 cm (25 5/8" by 18", at the widest point). The exact dimensions of the pre-1955 QEW signs are not known at this time. The following photos depict a QEW sign from 1940, a QEW sign from the 1970s, and a recent QEW sign:


QEW 1940         QEW         QEW NEW

Left: Photograph courtesy of Archives of Ontario © 1940

Centre: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2002

Right: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2002


Macdonald-Cartier Freeway Signs - Highway 401 (Used from 1965 to ca. 1993)

In 1965, Hwy 401 was designated as the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway. The naming took place to honour two of Canada's Fathers of Confederation, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George E. Cartier. New shield signs were installed alongside each Hwy 401 route marker. The new signs were similar to regular King's Highway signs, except that they were white-on-blue in colour, as opposed to black-on-white. The signs made no reference to Ontario (as they were always supposed to be co-signed with normal Hwy 401 shields), and read "M-C FREEWAY" or "AUTOROUTE M-C FREEWAY". The M-C Freeway signs are 64 cm by 45 cm (25 5/8" by 18", at the widest point). The signs were used for about three decades, but were slowly discontinued beginning around 1993. It is assumed that this was due to cost-cutting, but this is not an established fact. The last of these signs was removed in 2014. These are pictures of regular and bilingual Macdonald-Cartier Freeway signs:


MC FREEWAY         BILINGUAL MC FREEWAY

Left: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2002

Right: Photograph courtesy of Malcolm MacPherson © 2002


In addition to the shields along the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, there were also large blue signs installed at various points along the highway. These signs were introduced in 1965, and were phased out in the early 1980s. This is a picture of a blue Macdonald-Cartier Freeway sign, taken near Toronto International Airport in 1978:



Above: Photograph courtesy of Averill Hecht © 1978

Highway of Heroes Signs - Highway 401 (Used from 2007 to Present)

In August 2007, Hwy 401 from Trenton to Toronto was designated as the "Highway of Heroes", to honour Canada's soldiers killed in Afghanistan. New shield signs were installed alongside each Hwy 401 route marker from Trenton to Toronto. The new signs are identical to regular King's Highway signs, except that they feature a large red poppy instead of the highway route number. The English text signs read "Highway of Heroes" and the French text signs read "Autoroute des heros". Both English and French text signs are used within the City of Toronto, but signs in other regions are posted with English text only. The Highway of Heroes signs are 64 cm by 45 cm (25 5/8" by 18", at the widest point). The following pictures show an English-only text Highway of Heroes sign assembly near Newcastle and a dual English-French text sign assembly in Toronto:


HIGHWAY OF HEROES - HIGHWAY 401         BILINGUAL HIGHWAY OF HEROES - HIGHWAY 401

Left: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2007

Right: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2007


In addition to the commemorative shields along Hwy 401, there were also large blue signs installed in 2007 at various points along the highway. These signs are typically located after major highway junctions. An example of a blue Highway of Heroes sign is depicted below:



Above: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2007


Trans-Canada Highway Markers (Used from 1960 to Present)

Ontario has a somewhat different approach to marking Trans-Canada Highway Routes within its boundaries compared to most other provinces. Rather than having a Trans-Canada Highway marker containing the actual highway number, Ontario uses a separate sign which is designed to be used in conjunction with the standard white Group 6 King's Highway signs. Trans-Canada Highway markers in Ontario are often identified by their route name, as there are many branches of the Trans-Canada Highway within Ontario. The signs are 60 cm by 45 cm (24" by 18") and have a green background. A white maple leaf emblem is enclosed between a white banner and a white scroll. The top white banner contains green text which reads "TRANS-CANADA" (or the French equivalent "TRANSCANADIENNE"). The bottom white scoll has the word "ONTARIO" in green text. The white maple leaf emblem is often left blank, but will sometimes contain a route name. Historically, Trans-Canada Routes include the Lake Superior Route, the Voyageur Route, the Ottawa Valley Route, the Chapleau Route, the Georgian Bay Route, the Northern Ontario Route and the Central Ontario Route. While all of these designations have been used in Ontario, only the three latter route names are commonly used today. The following pictures show a Central Ontario Route marker, a Georgian Bay Route marker and a French-text Northern Ontario Route marker:


TCH Central Ontario Route         TCH Georgian Bay Route         TCH Northern Ontario Route

Left: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2004

Centre: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2006

Right: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2007


Trailblazer Signs (Used from 1955 to Present)

These signs are essentially the same size and shape as the modern Group 6 King's Highway crown shield signs (64 cm by 45 cm), except that they are green in colour with white lettering. They are used to mark routes that lead to principal Ontario highways. The lettering on the signs will say only "TO" or "TO/VERS", followed by the route number that the road connects with. Trailblazer signs for the QEW are dark blue, with yellow lettering. The following pictures show a "TO 33" trailblazer sign, a "TO/VERS 94" trailblazer sign and a "TO QEW" trailblazer sign:


TO 33         TO 94         TO QEW

Left: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2002

Centre: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2001

Right: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2007


Small Junction Signs (Used from 1955 to Present)

At intersections, small square signs showing a simplified outline of a crown are used to improve route number visibility for drivers. The signs only show the route number, with no other words or lettering. They are intended to be used with small arrow signs or other directional tab signs, in order to point the correct way. These signs are 45 cm by 45 cm (18" by 18"). There are also trailblazer junction signs, which are green in colour. These signs will say only "TO" or "TO/VERS" in addition to the route number. Trailblazer junction signs for the QEW are yellow, with a dark blue crown and yellow lettering. An example of a standard junction sign, a trailblazer junction sign, and a QEW trailblazer junction sign are depicted below:


HWY 99 JCT         TO 2 JCT         TO QEW

Left: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2002

Centre: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2002

Right: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2003


Large Junction Signs (Used from 1955 to Present)

Oversized square junction signs are used to mark Ontario highways at freeway ramp terminals and other complex intersections. The larger signs greatly improve route number visibility. The signs are identical in design to the small junction signs, which show a simplified outline of a crown containing the highway number. No other words or lettering are used on these signs, as they are always used in conjunction with directional tabs or arrows. These signs are 90 cm by 90 cm (36" by 36"). There are also large size trailblazer junction signs, which are green in colour. These signs will say only "TO" or "TO/VERS" in addition to the route number. Oversized junction signs for the QEW are yellow, with a dark blue crown and yellow lettering. Examples of a standard oversized junction sign are depicted below:


HWY 85 JCT         HWY 402 JCT

Left: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2007

Right: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2007


Secondary Highway Signs (Used from 1956 to Present)

In 1956, a new network of Secondary Highways was introduced across Eastern and Northern Ontario. These highways were marked with special trapezoid-shaped signs, adorned with the provincial coat-of-arms. Underneath, the route number appeared followed by "ONTARIO". These signs are 45 cm by 45 cm (18" by 18" at the widest point), and narrow down to 20 cm (8") at the top. They have remained largely unchanged since their introduction. This is a picture of a Secondary Highway 503 sign, and a "TO/VERS 555" Secondary Highway trailblazer sign showing the sign layout:


HWY 503         HWY 555

Left: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2001

Right: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2001


Tertiary Highway Signs (Used from 1962 to Present)

In 1962, a limited network of Tertiary Highways was introduced in specific locations in Northern Ontario. These highways were marked with simple rectangular signs (with rounded-off corners). The route number appeared in the centre followed by "ONTARIO". These signs are 45 cm by 30 cm (18" by 12"), and have remained largely unchanged since their introduction. This is a picture of a Tertiary Highway 804 sign, and a "TO/VERS 805" Tertiary Highway trailblazer sign showing the sign layout:


HWY 804         HWY 805

Left: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2001

Right: Photograph taken by Cameron Bevers © 2001




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