Ontario Highway 638

Ontario Highway 638
Highway 638 in Rydal Bank

Highway 638 shield

Highway 638
Route information
Length: 52.1 km[1] (32.4 mi)
Major junctions
Northwest end: Highway 17B in Echo Bay
   Highway 17 in Echo Bay
 Highway 670 at Ophir
Southeast end:  Highway 17 in Bruce Mines
Major cities: Echo Bay, Bruce Mines
Highway system

Ontario provincial highways
400-series • Former

Hwy 637 Hwy 639

Secondary Highway 638, commonly referred to as Highway 638, is a secondary highway located in the District of Algoma in Ontario. The highway measures 52.1 kilometres (32.4 mi) in length, extending from Echo Bay eastward through the communities of Sylvan Valley, Leeburn and Ophir, where it turns southward and runs south through Rydal Bank, Bruce Station, and finally to its southeastern terminus, also at Highway 17, in the town of Bruce Mines.

Highway 17B

From 2007 to 2009, the highway extended for an additional 15.6 kilometres westerly from Echo Bay, to another junction with Highway 17 in Sault Ste. Marie. The extended route from Echo Bay to Sault Ste. Marie was formerly an alignment of Highway 17, the route of the Trans-Canada Highway through the region, and was redesignated as part of Highway 638 when Highway 17 was rerouted along a four-lane expressway alignment which opened on October 31, 2007.[2]

However, the Garden River First Nation, citing a 1909 agreement with the province whereby ownership of the highway reverts to the band after realignment, refused to accept the highway being badged as anything other than Highway 17B. The provincial Ministry of Transportation, has decommissioned most B-suffixed highways in Ontario, but the band posted unofficial "Highway 17B" signs at the eastern and western limits of the reserve.

The municipal councils of Sault Ste. Marie and Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional, which border Garden River on either side and are also located on the route of the disputed roadway, both passed municipal resolutions in 2007 supporting Garden River's position and calling on the province to designate the road as Highway 17B.

As of February 2009, the segment is officially designated as 17B, and the route of Highway 638 once again ends at its original pre-2007 terminus in Echo Bay. However, exit signs along the Highway 17 bypass route do not identify the road with a 17B shield, but only as Bar River Road.


The safety of the current at-grade intersection at Highway 17 has been called into question by local residents. In February 2011, the Ministry of Transportation announced that this crossing will be upgraded to a full interchange.[3]


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