King's Highway 26, commonly referred to as Highway 26, is a provincially maintained highway in the Canadian province of Ontario, connecting the cities of Barrie and Owen Sound. Between these two cities, the highway serves the southern shoreline of Georgian Bay, passing through Stayner, Collingwood and Meaford and by the Blue Mountain Resort. In addition, the highway serves as the main route to Wasaga Beach, a popular recreational destination during the summer months.
|Maintained by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario|
|Length||113.7 km (70.6 mi)|
|Existed||July 2, 1927–present|
|West end||Highway 6 / Highway 10 / Highway 21 in Owen Sound|
|East end||Highway 400 in Barrie|
|Major cities||Owen Sound, Barrie|
|Towns||Meaford, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Stayner (in Clearview)|
Highway 26 between Owen Sound and Meaford in the west is not as highly traveled as the tourist areas to the east. It is also not a very straight route, as the highway makes four right-hand turns at signalled intersections, including the junction with Simcoe Road 27 (formerly Highway 27) north of Barrie (which is not signalled), the intersection with Simcoe Roads 91 and 42 in Stayner, Hume Street in eastern Collingwood, and High Street in western Collingwood.
From Meaford eastwards, the highway runs along the Georgian Bay shoreline, and in The Blue Mountains (extending from Thornbury eastwards through to the west limits of Collingwood), passes through a nearly continuous corridor of low-density resort-style residential developments, mostly concentrated in the Blue Mountain Resort area. Between Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, the highway is a four-lane divided roadway with roundabouts transitioning to the undivided sections at both ends: one at Mosely Street in Wasaga Beach, and the other at Poplar Sideroad in Collingwood.
The routing of the highway takes it from the junction with Highway 6, Highway 10 and Highway 21 in Owen Sound to its terminus at Highway 400 in Barrie at the Bayfield street interchange. For a time, the highway continued southward to Dunlop street, formerly Highway 11, in Barrie, cosigned with Highway 27. The southern portion of Bayfield street was downloaded to the City of Barrie along with Dunlop street in 1997, when these sections of Highway 27 and 11 were eliminated. This shortened the highway's length by 1.3 kilometers and removed the 7.2 kilometer concurrency with Highway 27. The highway's current length is 115.7 km.
The highway serves as a major link between Barrie and the Greater Toronto Area (via Highway 400) and the popular tourist region on the southern shore of Georgian Bay. Over the past several years the popularity of this region has increased, and traffic levels have increased accordingly. Major reconstruction work was undertaken to repair the very old bridge over the Nottawasaga River in Edenvale (between Barrie and Stayner).
Highway 26 was first assumed by the Department of Highways on July 2, 1927 along an existing trunk route between Barrie and Owen Sound. At its western terminus, the route ended at Highway 6; the eastern terminus was at Highway 11. Since then, the route has remained almost unchanged, except in the Collingwood and Barrie areas. Prior to the completion of the Pretty River Parkway in Collingwood in the 1970s, Highway 26 was routed through Collingwood along Hume Street, before making a 90 degree right turn (north) at the intersection with Highway 24 (Now Simcoe Road 124, Hurontario Street) with which it was concurrent until Highway 24's terminus at First Street, where Highway 26 makes a 90 degree left turn (west) onto First Street, continuing on the present route. The Pretty River Parkway was a bypass of this highly congested downtown route, branching off to the north from Hume Street and swinging gradually westward along the shoreline until becoming Huron Street, which is the eastward extension of First Street beyond Hurontario. In 2003, Pretty River Parkway was widened to four lanes to match the existing sections of Huron and First Streets. The new bypass east of Collingwood under construction in July 2012 The Collingwood-Wasaga Beach bypass was opened on November 15, 2012, and was constructed due to the old route being a dangerous section of road with numerous intersecting side streets and private residences with direct highway entrances, along with very high traffic volumes. The new alignment has the highway veer west in the west end of Wasaga Beach, and parallel the current highway until a point near the eastern town limits of Collingwood. The former route now named as Beachwood Road from Collingwood to Mosely Street in Wasaga Beach. The remaining section of the former alignment south of Mosely Street has been renamed Lyons Court.
Within Barrie, a portion of Highway 26 was transferred to the city in 1998, truncating it at Highway 400. This former portion is now known simply as Bayfield Street.
It is believed that the bypass is the first part in realigning the existing highway within the Collingwood area that would potentially see the bypass extended around the town, but no other projects or studies are underway that would expand this highway beyond its current length.
|Grey||Owen Sound||0.0||0.0||Highway 6 / Highway 10 south / Highway 6 / Highway 21 west||Beginning of Owen Sound Connecting Link agreement|
|1.7||1.1||14th Avenue||End of Owen Sound Connecting Link agreement|
|Meaford Connecting Link agreement|
|Thornbury||39.8||24.7||Peel Street||Beginning of Thornbury Connecting Link agreement|
|42.4||26.3||End of Thornbury Connecting Link agreement|
|Craigleith||52.7||32.7||County Road 19|
|Grey-Simcoe boundary||The Blue Mountains–Clearview boundary||55.5||34.5|| County Road 21 / Simcoe County Road 34 (Osler Bluff Road) /|
Long Point Road
|Beginning of Collingwood Connecting Link agreement|
|Collingwood||62.6||38.9||Hurontario Street (To County Road 124)||Formerly Highway 24|
|67.3||41.8||Poplar Sideroad||End of Collingwood Connecting Link agreement;|
Beginning of 4-lane divided highway
|Wasaga Beach||73.0||45.4||Mosely Street / Nottawasaga 33/34 Sideroad||End of 4-lane divided highway;|
Mosely Street was formerly Highway 92 east of the former alignment of Highway 26; now Beachwood Road
|Stayner||77.0||47.8||Community bounday; Beginning of Stayner Connecting Link agreement|
|County Road 91 – west / King Street South – south||Formerly Highway 91; King Street leads south to Airport Road|
|79.7||49.5||Mowat Street||End of Stayner Connecting Link agreement|
|Sunnidale Corners||85.4||53.1||County Road 10 (Sunnidale Road)|
|Springwater||98.6||61.3||County Road 22 (Horseshoe Valley Road ) – east Horseshoe Valley|
|Midhurst||110.2||68.5||County Road 27 – north||Formerly concurrent with Highway 27 into Barrie|
|Barrie||113.7||70.6||Northern city limits; Beginning of Barrie Connecting Link agreement|
|116.0||72.1||Highway 400||End of Highway 26|
|117.4||72.9||Highway 11 (Dunlop Street)||Former terminus of Highway 26; Connecting Link agreement repealed in 1997|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|