Ontario Highway 68
- Note: Highway 6 fully absorbed this route in 1980.
|Maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario|
|Length:||116.8 km (72.6 mi)
|Existed:||August 11, 1937 – Spring 1980 (renumberOed as extension of Highway 6)|
|North end:||Highway 17|
| Highway 540 (Meredith Street) – Little Current
Highway 542 – Tehkummah
|South end:||Ferry Dock in South Baymouth|
|Major cities:||McKerrow, Espanola, Little Current, Manitowaning, South Baymouth|
King's Highway 68, commonly referred to as Highway 68, was a provincially maintained highway on Manitoulin Island, linking the island to the mainland. It was connected to the rest of the network at McKerrow, where it met Highway 17. The road was built in the 1920s as a trunk road for the Department of Northern Development (later merged into the Department of Highways, today's Ministry of Transportation), but was assumed as a provincial highway in 1937, as the only King's Highway on the island. Highway 68 stretched from South Baymouth in the south, through the towns of Manitowaning and Little Current north to Espanola on the mainland.
Highway 68 was a 116.8 km (72.6 mi) route that crossed the eastern side of Manitoulin Island in a north–south orientation between South Baymouth and Little Current. North of there, it travelled through the La Cloche Peninsula en route to Espanola and Highway 17. However, in 1980 the route was renumbered as a northern "extension" of Highway 6. The two segments of the highway are connected by the seasonal Chi-Cheemaun ferry service that travels between Tobermory and South Baymouth. This service only operates from May through October.
Today, the former routing is surrounded by farms and ranges outside of the numerous communities it interconnects on Manitoulin Island. On the mainland, the highway passes through mountainous terrain and the rugged Canadian Shield. Communities along the route include South Baymouth, Squirrel Town, Manitowaning, Sheguiandah, Little Current, McGregor Bay, Whitefish Falls, West River and Espanola.
The history of Highway 68 dates to 1929, when the Department of Northern Development (DND) constructed a 56 km (35 mi) gravel road between McKerrow and Goat Island. From there, a railway and ferry crossed the North Channel to Little Current on Manitoulin Island. On April 1, 1937, the DND merged into the Department of Highways (DHO), and the latter began to assume and number trunk roadways in central and northern Ontario. On August 11, 1937, the DHO took control of the Little Current Road. At its northern terminus, Highway 17 was rerouted in 1939, bypassing the old alignment between Webbwood and McKerrow. As a result, Highway 68 was extended north by 2 km (1.2 mi) to meet this new alignment.
During World War II, the rail bridge over the North Channel was abandoned, and subsequently redecked for highway use in 1945. Highway 68 was extended across the channel to Little Current, increasing its length by 1 km (0.62 mi). However, Manitoulin Island would still remain without a highway of its own until the mid-1950s. On December 7, 1955, the route was extended 41.5 mi (66.8 km) across the island to South Baymooth.
While the road was re-aligned somewhat throughout its history (many of the re-alignments took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s), and its overall path has not changed, its length has varied considerably during re-alignments, creeping as high as 130 km during the 1960s, before settling back down to its current value of around 116 km. Some former alignments (such as "Devil's Elbow Road") are still in use. The road was fully paved by 1973, making this road one of the last Kings Highways in the province to be paved in its entirety (with the last Kings Highway to be paved being Highway 129 in 1983).
During the spring of 1980, the entire length of Highway 68 was renumbered as part of Highway 6. The two discontinuous sections of Highway 6 are linked only by a privately operated ferry, the Chi-Cheemaun, which runs daily from May to October from South Baymouth to Tobermory, across Georgian Bay.
||South Baymouth||0.0||0.0||Ferry Docks|
|Sheguiandah||54.3||33.7||Sheguiandah Bay Road|
|Little Current||63.9||39.7||Highway 540 west (Merideth Street)|
||Espanola||108.7||67.5||Foster Drive||Beginning of Espanola Connecting Link agreement|
|114.1||70.9||Tudhope Street||End of Espanola Connecting Link agreement|
|Baldwin Township||116.8||72.6||Highway 17 – Sudbury, Massey|
|1.000 km = 0.621 mi; 1.000 mi = 1.609 km
• Closed/former Unopened
- Peter Heiler Ltd (2010). Ontario Back Road Atlas (Map). Cartography by MapArt. p. 73, 84, section E11–N13. ISBN 978-1-55198-226-7.
- Google Inc. Google Maps – Highway 68 length and route (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. http://goo.gl/maps/Db8eN. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
- Annual Report (Report). Department of Highways. March 31, 1938. p. 80.
- Annual Report (Report). Department of Highways. March 31, 1940. p. 93.
- Annual Report (Report). Department of Highways. March 31, 1956. p. 203.
- Public and Safety Information Branch (December 13, 1979). "Highway 68 on Manitoulin Island to be Renumbered as Highway 6" (Press release). Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
- Provincial Highways Distance Table. Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. 1989. p. 18. ISSN 0825-5350.