Ontario Highway 105
|Length||173.5 km (107.8 mi)|
|South end||Highway 17 near Vermilion Bay|
|North end||Highway 618 in Red Lake|
Highway 105 begins at a junction with Highway 17 on the west side of Vermilion Bay, approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of Kenora and 40 kilometres (25 mi) west of Dryden, travelling north. It progresses through a large region of uninhabited lakes, swamplands, forests and rocks for 103 kilometres (64 mi) to Ear Falls, with Perrault Falls and Red Lake Road, Ontario, being the only communities between the two. Near Ear Falls, the route meets Highway 804 and Highway 657. Midway between Ear Falls and the northern terminus of the route is Pakwash Provincial Park and the community of Snake River. As Highway 105 approaches Red Lake, it meets Highway 125, which branches north to Balmerton and Cochenour. The highway ends 70 kilometres (43 mi) north of Ear Falls in the town of Red Lake at Howey Street, which continues west as Highway 618.
Opening the frontier
The history of Highway 105 can be traced to the discovery of gold and the opening of mines in the area around Red Lake in 1926. Since the amount of gold in Red Lake was far greater than anyone expected, it was instantly realised that a road link was needed to fully utilize the gold mines, to export the minerals to the rest of the province. Until a road was constructed to Red Lake, the only way to reach the town was via boat, canoe, airplane, or seaplane, and this is how townspeople and miners came to and left from Red Lake and its mines.
A road was not initially considered, due to how remote the town was from most other settlements, despite the very productive gold mines of the area. It would have been very expensive and extremely difficult to build a road through the remote, hilly, forest- and lake-filled area. Even after a road was finally decided upon, there were several large hurdles to overcome before the province could actually building it: Red Lake and the surrounding mines were in an extremely remote area of the province, and many questioned if a road to a subarctic town was required, especially given the financially straitened times of the Great Depression.
World War II
During World War II, the Government of Canada listed certain industries that were "protected" from exemptions, conscriptions of workers, and rationing. Among these were mining. In 1942, mining was removed from the list of "protected" wartime industries to ration goods, material and people for the war effort. When the miners were called up to the battlefields to become soldiers, the mines closed up and the need for a road diminished considerably. However, the mines resumed their activity upon World War II's end, producing gold in enormous quantities once more. The Department of Highways quickly constructed a gravel road from Vermilion Bay to Red Lake in the 1940s. It was designated as Highway 105, and the entire 180 km (110 mi) length of the road was paved by the early 1960s. Since opening, realignments and straightening of the road has shortened the road to 173.7 km (107.9 mi).
Even today, Highway 105 remains one of the most isolated roads in Ontario and one of the most isolated major highways in all of North America. It is advised that travellers fuel up and load supplies in Dryden, Kenora or Red Lake before travelling down this road, as rest stops are few and far between.
|Vermilion Bay||0.0||0.0||Highway 17|
|Red Lake Road||13.2||8.2||Highway 609 (To Quibell Road)||CN flag stop|
|Unorganized Kenora District||77.6||48.2||Onaway Lac Seul Road – Onaway Lodge|
|Ear Falls||101.7||63.2||English River Bridge|
|103.1||64.1||Highway 657 (Gold Pines Road)|
|Red Lake||170.7||106.1||Highway 125 (Balmertown Road)|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|