Highway 2 was the main trans-provincial route used in Ontario in the early 20th century. This Highway made it’s way primarily along the north edge of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. As congestion built on this highway it became apparent that a more modern, higher volume highway was required for traffic wishing to cross the province or parts of it in a more speedy fashion. The concept of a four lane border to border highway was born. The first section of what would become Highway 401 was finished in 1942 and connected the 1000 Islands Bridge at Ivy Lea with Highway 2 in Brockville. It was designated Highway 2S. The S stood for Scenic. After World War II, in 1947 the Toronto to Oshawa section was finished. Construction didn’t begin at one end and work towards the other, instead during the 1950’s, sections of the Highway were built in areas where traffic was heaviest and congestion most required relief.
During the 1960’s construction was completing and joining sections thereby creating a four lane roadway providing convenience previously not experienced. The completion of the highway’s different sections was big news for residents and it opened new opportunities for commerce, commuting and tourism. The Ministry published the above books during the “heyday” of construction to keep the public informed of progress and to familiarize them with the route of the highway. The final connecting section of the highway was completed in 1968.