Queen Elizabeth Way

Queen Elizabeth Way featured the longest stretch roadway

The Queen Elizabeth Way, commonly abbreviated as the QEW, is a 400-Series highway in the Canadian province of Ontario linking Toronto with the Niagara Peninsula and Buffalo, New York. The freeway begins at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie and travels 139.1 kilometres (86.4 mi) around the western shore of Lake Ontario, ending at Highway 427. The physical highway, however, continues as the Gardiner Expressway into downtown Toronto. The QEW is one of Ontario’s busiest highways, with an average of close to 200,000 vehicles per day on some sections. Major highway junctions are located at Highway 420 in Niagara Falls, Highway 405 and Highway 406 in St. Catharines, the Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton, Highway 403 and Highway 407 in Burlington, Highway 403 at the Oakville–Mississauga boundary and Highway 427 in Etobicoke. Within the Regional Municipality of Halton, the QEW is signed concurrently with Highway 403.

The history of the QEW dates back to 1931, when work began to widen the Middle Road in a similar fashion to the nearby Dundas Highway and Lakeshore Road as a relief project during the Great Depression. Following the 1934 provincial election, Ontario Minister of Highways Thomas McQuesten and his deputy minister Robert Melville Smith changed this design to be similar to the autobahns of Germany, dividing the opposite directions of travel and using grade-separated intersections known as interchanges at major crossroads. When it was initially opened to traffic in 1937, it was the first intercity divided highway in North America and featured the longest stretch of consistent illumination in the world. While not a true freeway at the time, it was gradually upgraded, widened and modernized throughout the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, more or less taking on its current form by 1975. Since then, various projects have continued to widen the route. In 1997, the provincial government turned over the responsibility for the section of the QEW east of Highway 427 to the City of Toronto. This section was subsequently renamed as part of the Gardiner Expressway.