History of King's Highway 27:
King's Highway 27 was a major collector highway which connected Toronto to Highway 93 in the Midland area, north of Barrie. The highway was 119 km in length and it existed up until the late 1990s, when it was downloaded in its entirety to the City of Toronto, the Regional Municipality of York and the County of Simcoe.
The history of Highway 27 dates back to 1927, when the Barrie-Penetanguishene Road was designated as Provincial Highway 27. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared dated June 17, 1927, showing the proposed route of a new Provincial Highway through Simcoe County. The proposed highway began at the Highway 26 Junction in Midhurst and continued north to Midland and Penetanguishene via Elmvale and Waverley. The route was assumed as Provincial Highway 27 by the Department of Public Highways of Ontario (DPHO) on September 14, 1927. The DPHO decided to route Highway 26 & Highway 27 concurrently for 7 km between Midhurst and Barrie, so that both of these highways connected directly to Highway 11. Provincial Highway 27 was redesignated as King's Highway 27 in 1930.
Originally, the route of Highway 27 had two distinct northern termini. The highway split into two different spur routes at a "Y" junction just outside of Midland. One Highway 27 spur continued north to Penetanguishene, while the other Highway 27 spur turned east towards Midland. The route of Highway 27 via Penetanguishene was 55 km in length, while the route via Midland was slightly shorter, at 53 km in length. The two spur routes existed up until 1947, when Highway 12 was extended westerly from Midland to the "Y" junction. This extension of Highway 12 absorbed the Midland spur of Highway 27 into its route, thereby eliminating the northern Midland terminus on Highway 27.
When Highway 27 was first assumed in 1927, the entire highway was gravel-surfaced, except for the approach to Penetanguishene. Paving was completed between Midland and Penetanguishene on the two Highway 27 spur routes in 1928. Highway 27 was paved between the "Y" junction near Midland and Waverley in 1929 and 1930. A short section of Highway 27 through Elmvale was also paved in 1930. In 1931, the concurrent route of Highway 26 and Highway 27 between Barrie and Midhurst was paved. Highway 27 was paved from Waverley to Midhurst during a series of highway improvement projects that were carried out between 1933 and 1935. This work completed a paved surface on the north leg of Highway 27 between Barrie and the Midland area.
In the early 1930s, the Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) began planning for a south extension of Highway 27 across Simcoe County. A Preliminary Route Plan was prepared dated January 30, 1930, showing the proposed route of a new King's Highway from Barrie southerly to Schomberg on the Simcoe-York County Boundary. For some reason, there was a delay in the acquisition of the proposed south leg of Highway 27. The 45 km extension of Highway 27 from Barrie to Schomberg was not assumed into the King's Highway system until March 28, 1934. The new section of Highway 27 was gravel-surfaced at first, although a section of the highway was paved between Barrie and Thornton in 1937.
In 1936, the DHO began to have a much grander vision for Highway 27. The DHO recognized the opportunity to connect the new Middle Road Highway (today's Queen Elizabeth Way) directly to Barrie, via Kleinburg. At that time, Highway 11 was the only major through road connecting Toronto and Barrie. Consequently, traffic congestion was a recurring problem on Highway 11, particularly in the summer when residents of Toronto and surrounding communities utilized Highway 11 to reach Barrie and Cottage Country. Consequently, the DHO decided to extend Highway 27 from Schomberg southerly to Long Branch, in order to provide a new highway connection between the western side of Toronto and Barrie. Preliminary Route Plans were prepared dated May 1936, showing the proposed route of a new King's Highway from Schomberg southerly to Kleinburg and from Elder Mills near Woodbridge southerly to Long Branch. The DHO assumed the Schomberg-Kleinburg Road as a new section of Highway 27 on August 12, 1936. This road was already paved at the time of assumption. The DHO assumed two roads in Etobicoke Township (Browns Line and Eaton Road) on August 12, 1936, and designated these roads as part of Highway 27 as well. Unfortunately, there was no direct connection at that time between Kleinburg and the three most important east-west highways in Southern Ontario (those being Highway 7, Highway 2 and the new Middle Road Highway, which later became the Queen Elizabeth Way). The DHO recognized that the new Highway 27 extension had to intersect these three routes to the west of Toronto, in order for the new highway to serve as an effective alternate route to Highway 11. However, between Elder Mills and Kleinburg, no road existed. Thus, an entirely new highway alignment had to be constructed between Kleinburg and Elder Mills. Construction began on the new road in late 1936, and by 1938, the new Highway 27 extension was completed and opened to traffic through the Humber Valley. Highway 27 was paved from Long Branch to the Highway 5 Junction in 1937. When construction ceased on Highway 27 in 1938, the route had grown to 148 km in length. The completion of Highway 27 between Barrie and Toronto finally provided travelers with an alternate route to Highway 11 between these two cities.
It appears that the DHO had plans to ultimately convert the section of Highway 27 from the Middle Road Highway near Long Branch to Kleinburg as a divided four-lane superhighway. When the Elder Mills Railway Subway was built in 1938, enough space was provided to permit the construction of a four-lane highway. In 1937, land was set aside at the Highway 7 Junction near Woodbridge to permit the construction of a future cloverleaf interchange. South of Kleinburg, a 200-foot right-of-way was acquired along the route of Highway 27 for highway purposes, which was a far greater width than what was typically acquired for King's Highways at that time. Old DHO plans also show conceptual drawings for a divided highway with a cloverleaf interchange at Highway 5 in Etobicoke Township. Despite these ambitious early proposals for Highway 27, only one interchange was built along the highway prior to the 1950s. A new cloverleaf interchange and grade separation was constructed at the junction of Highway 27 and the Queen Elizabeth Way north of Long Branch in 1940. The cloverleaf at Highway 5 & Highway 27 was constructed in 1954, while the planned cloverleaf at Highway 7 & Highway 27 was never actually built.
Highway 27 fell victim to other highway improvement priorities in the late 1930s. As a result, few additional improvements were made to the highway between Toronto and Barrie after the road's opening in 1938. Highway 27 remained a mostly gravel-surfaced highway between Toronto and Barrie throughout World War II, which limited the highway's appeal to motorists as a practical alternate route to Highway 11. The highway was gravel-surfaced from the Highway 5 Junction to Kleinburg and from Schomberg to Thornton. Paving operations resumed in 1945, when Highway 27 was paved from the Highway 5 Junction northerly to the Malton Road (today's Dixon Road). The highway was paved through Thornton and Cookstown in 1946. In 1949, Highway 27 was paved from Malton Road northerly to Kleinburg. A small diversion was completed near Bell's Lake between Nobleton and Schomberg in 1949, which was paved the following year. In 1951, the last remaining gravel sections on Highway 27 between Schomberg and Thornton were paved. The final paving contract was completed in October 1951, thus completing Highway 27 as a first class paved alternate route to Highway 11 between Toronto and Barrie.
Ironically, this new Highway 27 "Bypass" served its role as a practical alternate route to Highway 11 for only a few short months in late 1951, before it too was bypassed by another new highway which had been under construction since 1946. The new Toronto-Barrie Highway (Highway 400) was unofficially opened to through traffic in December 1951, only two months after paving operations had been completed on Highway 27. This modern, new divided highway greatly eased traffic congestion between Toronto and Barrie by bypassing both Highway 27 and Highway 11. The importance of Highway 27 between Toronto and Barrie was greatly reduced as a result of the new Toronto-Barrie Highway, with the exception of one section of Highway 27 which followed Browns Line through Etobicoke Township. This section of Highway 27 was selected to become a link in the new Toronto Interceptor Road in the late 1940s. This proposed four-lane ring road would orbit the City of Toronto and allow through traffic to bypass the city entirely. Between 1953 and 1955, Highway 27 was converted into a four-lane freeway with interchanges between the Queen Elizabeth Way and the Richview Side Road (today's Eglinton Avenue). Improvements were also made to the existing cloverleaf interchange at Highway 27 and the Queen Elizabeth Way. This highway widening project, in conjunction with the east-west portion of the Toronto Bypass (which was designated as Highway 401 in 1952), evolved into an integral part of the Greater Toronto Area's transportation network.
As originally assumed in the 1920s and 1930s, the DHO owned Highway 27 in its entirety with the exception of the portions of the route passing through Barrie and Penetanguishene, which were non-assumed. During the 1960s, the route of Highway 27 was extended from the south limits of the Town of Penetanguishene to the Penetanguishene Town Wharf when Main Street was designated as a Municipal Connecting Link by an Order-in-Council, effective July 23, 1964. The existing non-assumed section of Highway 26 & Highway 27 (Bayfield Street) between Downtown Barrie and Highway 400 and the non-assumed sections of Highway 27 (Essa Road, Dunlop Street and Bradford Street) were designated as a Municipal Connecting Link on May 19, 1966. On April 1, 1969, a 1.3 km section of Highway 26 & Highway 27 along Bayfield Street between Highway 400 and Livingstone Street was transferred to the City of Barrie. This section of Highway 26 & Highway 27 then became an extension of the Municipal Connecting Link. On February 1, 1986, another 1.1 km section of Highway 26 & Highway 27 from Livingstone Street to the new City of Barrie limits was transferred to the City of Barrie. Once again, the Municipal Connecting Link designation was extended north along Bayfield Street to join with the provincially-owned section of Highway 26 & Highway 27, which now began at the revised Barrie City Limits. A substantial section of Highway 27 through Barrie along Essa Road was transferred to the City of Barrie in the mid-1980s. The section of Highway 27 from the south limits of the City of Barrie near Athabaska Road to the Highway 400 Interchange was transferred to the City of Barrie on July 1, 1984. The Municipal Connecting Link designation was immediately extended to include this section of Highway 27 via Essa Road. The Municipal Connecting Link agreement for the entire route of Highway 27 through Barrie was formally repealed by a Minister's Order dated September 16, 1997.
Several sections of Highway 27 have been transferred to local municipalities over the years. The 2 km section of Highway 27 between the Queen Elizabeth Way and Lakeshore Blvd (Highway 2) in Long Branch was decommissioned in 1959. The highway was transferred from the province to Metro Toronto on October 8, 1959. This former section of Highway 27 is now known as Browns Line. A 1.4 km section of Highway 27 through Elmvale was transferred to the Village of Elmvale on April 1, 1962. The route of Highway 27 through Elmvale was immediately designated as a Municipal Connecting Link, effective April 1, 1962. The section of Highway 27 through Cookstown was transferred to the Village of Cookstown on April 28, 1963. The route of Highway 27 through Cookstown was designated as a Municipal Connecting Link, effective May 9, 1963.
Between 1967 and 1972, the four-lane freeway section of Highway 27 was extensively rebuilt from the Queen Elizabeth Way northerly to Highway 401. The freeway's existing four-lane cross section was widened and an express-collector lane system was introduced. After the reconstruction project was completed in 1972, Highway 27 was redesignated as Highway 427 between the Queen Elizabeth Way and Highway 401. This highway renumbering reduced the length of Highway 27 by 8 km. For the next 25 years, the southern terminus of Highway 27 was located at the Highway 401 & Highway 427 Interchange. In 1982, the north leg of Highway 27 was renumbered as Highway 93, in order to improve the route numbering logic in the area. Highway 93 assumed the routing of Highway 27 between Waverley and Penetanguishene. This change in route numbers shortened Highway 27 by another 18 km.
The entire route of Highway 27 was downloaded to local municipalities in the late 1990s. On March 31, 1997, the route of Highway 27 (Essa Road) from the Highway 131 Junction to the Barrie City Limits was transferred to the County of Simcoe. This section of Former Highway 27 was renamed Simcoe County Road 30. In turn, Highway 27 was rerouted along Highway 131, Highway 90 and Highway 400 between Dunlop Street and Bayfield Street in Barrie. This new routing bypassed the complicated and rather congested section of Highway 27 through Downtown Barrie. The route of Highway 27 was downloaded within the City of Toronto on March 31, 1997. The highway has retained the official name of "Highway 27", because the City of Toronto does not employ a posted road numbering system. On January 1, 1998, all other portions of Highway 27 from the north limits of the City of Toronto to the Highway 93 Junction at Waverley was transferred to the Regional Municipality of York and the County of Simcoe. The road is now officially known as York Regional Road 27 and Simcoe County Road 27, although the road is almost always referred to as "Highway 27" by motorists.
Highway 27 passes through several large towns along its route. The principal towns and cities along the highway are Toronto, Vaughan, Nobleton, Schomberg, Bond Head, Cookstown, Barrie, Midhurst and Elmvale. Services are available in most larger communities along Highway 27. Most sections of Highway 27 are two lanes, but some passing lanes have been constructed in places to facilitate the overtaking of slower vehicles using the highway. Highway 27 has some multilane sections between Toronto and Kleinburg and between Barrie and Midhurst. Unless posted otherwise, the speed limit on Highway 27 is 80 km/h (50 mph). Please visit the Highway 27 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 27.
Additional Information About King's Highway 27: