History of King's Highway 59:
King's Highway 59 was a long collector highway in Southwestern Ontario which linked Long Point on the shores of Lake Erie with Shakespeare, a small community located between Kitchener and Stratford. The highway was 122 km in length and it existed up until the late 1990s, when it was downloaded to the Counties of Norfolk, Oxford and Perth.
The history of Highway 59 dates back to the mid-1930s, when the Department of Highways of Ontario (DHO) first examined the assumption of a pair of existing roads south of Woodstock to collectively form the route of a new King's Highway. Preliminary Route Plans were prepared by the DHO dated July 17 & July 18, 1935, which showed the proposed highway route in Norfolk and Oxford Counties, respectively. The proposed highway began at the Highway 3 Junction just west of Delhi and followed The Coal Road north towards Norwich. The proposed highway then followed The Woodstock and Norwich Gravel Road in a general northwesterly direction from Norwich to join with Highway 2 in Woodstock. For some reason, there was a delay in the acquisition of Highway 59. Although plans for the highway were first drafted in 1935, the DHO did not officially acquire ownership of Highway 59 until the route was formally assumed by the province on August 25, 1937. Although the route had been under provincial jurisdiction since 1931, the highway from Woodstock northerly to Shakespeare was originally designated as a part of Highway 19. The Woodstock to Shakespeare section of Highway 19 was renumbered as an extension of Highway 59 in the early 1960s.
At the time of the highway's assumption in 1937, Highway 59 was approximately 26.5 miles (43 km) in length (See Map). With the exception of the urban section of Highway 59 within Woodstock, the entire route of Highway 59 was under provincial jurisdiction initially. The section of Highway 59 within Woodstock lying to the north of Parkinson Road was a non-assumed section of the King's Highway under municipal jurisdiction. Most sections of Highway 59 were gravel-surfaced at first, although some limited asphalt paving work took place on a 3-mile section of Highway 59 north of Delhi just before the province took over the highway in 1937. The balance of Highway 59 was paved between Delhi and Norwich in 1947 and the last gravel section along Highway 59 from Norwich to Woodstock was paved in 1948.
The route of Highway 59 did not change significantly until the early 1960s. In 1961, a new 25-mile (40 km) section of Highway 59 was established in Norfolk County from Long Point northwesterly to the Highway 3 Junction in Courtland (See Map). A Preliminary Assumption Plan was prepared dated July 1961, which indicated the DHO's intentions to assume the existing county road from Courtland to Long Point as a new King's Highway. The extension of Highway 59 from Courtland to Long Point was formally designated as a King's Highway by an Order-in-Council, effective July 20, 1961. In order to unite the discontinuous north and south legs of Highway 59 together, the DHO signed Highway 59 concurrently with Highway 3 between Courtland and Delhi beginning in 1961. After the extension to Long Point, the length of Highway 59 had grown to 55 miles (89 km).
Several highways in the Ingersoll-Woodstock area were renumbered in the early 1960s, which resulted in changes to the route of Highway 59. In an effort to improve highway numbering logic in the area, the entire route of Highway 100 between Thamesford and St. Marys was renumbered as a new section of Highway 19. In turn, a portion of the old route of Highway 19 lying between Woodstock and Shakespeare was renumbered as Highway 59 (See Map). It is believed that Highway 19 was renumbered as Highway 59 between Woodstock and Shakespeare effective January 1, 1962, but this date has not been confirmed for certain. Two non-assumed sections of the King's Highway existed along this new northern extension of Highway 59. The first ran through the northern part of Woodstock via Vansittart Avenue, while the other ran through Tavistock. Both sections of the highway were designated as Municipal Connecting Links prior to the route number change in 1962. Following the northerly extension of Highway 59 from Woodstock to Shakespeare, the highway's total length grew to approximately 76 miles (122 km).
Slight changes were made to the urban sections of Highway 59 through Woodstock over the years. The non-assumed section of Highway 59 through Woodstock via Wilson Street, Cedar Street and Norwich Avenue was officially designated as a Municipal Connecting Link, effective August 27, 1958. The construction of a new bridge over the Thames River and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) at the northern entrance to Woodstock resulted in a long-term detour for Highway 59 traffic through Woodstock. Following the northerly extension of Highway 59 from Woodstock to Shakespeare in 1962, Highway 59 departed from Woodstock on Vansittart Avenue. In 1965, a temporary route was established for Highway 59 through Woodstock, via Vansittart Avenue, Ingersoll Avenue, Oxford Street and Tecumseh Street. The amended Municipal Connecting Link designation for Highway 59 via this alternate route was designated by an Order-in-Council, effective July 8, 1965. The original route for Highway 59 via Vansittart Avenue only was restored following the completion of the new bridge in 1967. The alternate Highway 59 route was stripped of its Municipal Connecting Link status by an Order-in-Council, effective November 23, 1967. As the southern end of Woodstock became more developed in the 1980s, Highway 59 began to serve more of a local function rather than operate as a long-distance through highway. Accordingly, jurisdiction over a short 1 km section of Highway 59 from the Highway 401 Interchange northerly to Parkinson Road was transferred from the province to the County of Oxford, effective October 2, 1986. The Municipal Connecting Link designation along Highway 59 South between Dundas Street (Highway 2) and Parkinson Road was revoked by an Order-in-Council, effective July 24, 1986. The Municipal Connecting Link designation for Highway 59 North (Vansittart Avenue) was also revoked by an Order-in-Council the following year, on October 30, 1987. The overlapped route of Highway 2 & Highway 59 through Downtown Woodstock retained its Municipal Connecting Link designation until it too was revoked by a Minister's Order, effective January 1, 1998. Although many parts of Highway 59 through Woodstock were not formally designated as Municipal Connecting Links after the late 1980s, the highway was signed continuously through the city with route markers to aid in navigation.
Initially, the province maintained jurisdiction over the route of Highway 59 through the Village of Norwich, via Stover Street. However, the province transferred jurisdiction over the section of Highway 59 through Norwich to the municipality, effective September 18, 1965. The transferred section of Highway 59 through Norwich was formally designated as a Municipal Connecting Link by an Order-in-Council, effective October 14, 1965. The Municipal Connecting Link designations through Norwich as well as Tavistock were both revoked by a Minister's Order, effective January 1, 1998.
The route of Highway 59 did not change again to any significant degree until the late 1990s. On January 1, 1998, all remaining provincially-owned sections of Highway 59 from Delhi northerly to Shakespeare and from Courtland southerly to Long Point were downloaded to the Counties of Norfolk (Formerly the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk), Oxford and Perth. The road is now officially known as Norfolk Highway 59, Oxford County Road 59 and Perth Line 107, although the road is still often referred to collectively as "Highway 59" by motorists. The former overlapped route of Highway 3 & Highway 59 between Courtland and Delhi was discontinued, although this part remained in the provincial highway system under the Highway 3 designation only. Services are available in most major communities along the highway, although services become somewhat less frequent towards the southern end of highway. Unless posted otherwise, the speed limit on Highway 59 is 80 km/h (50 mph). Please visit the Highway 59 Mileage Chart page for a list of mileage reference points along Highway 59.
Additional Information About King's Highway 59: