Way up in the very northwestern corner of the city, the old Indian Line used to mark the boundary between Etobicoke and Peel Region (Mississauga and Brampton). The road carved its way through farm fields and across a bridge over the Humber River before continuing north past Steeles Avenue. Most of the old road was effectively wiped out by the initial construction and subsequent widening and extending of Highway 427 starting in the late 1960s and continuing through the early 1990s. Other portions of the road fell victim to realignments of Albion Road, Steeles Avenue, and Regional Road 50 heading north out of the city. But as with other abandoned roads in the city, a few stretches of the old roadway still exist.
The most obvious remnant of Indian Line is a 1.5 km stretch that runs south off Albion Road just south of Steeles that’s sore-thumb-visible on Google Maps. The gate at this location is sometimes open, but it’s always accessible by foot or bike. This particular alignment of Indian Line used to serve as off- and on-ramps for the 427, bringing highway traffic to and from Albion Road as it continued northward into the hinterland. When the highway was extended north of Steeles in the early 1990s, Indian Line was closed off and has been left to languish as part of the Claireville Conservation Area. At just about 15 years old, this section of road is one of Toronto’s most-recently abandoned roads.
Deserted except for occasional hikers from nearby Indian Line Camp Ground, anglers hoping to hook a mutant fish in the Claireville Reservoir, and dog walkers, the road climbs over the CN tracks on a bridge with a small median where weeds have poked up through the asphalt and grown into trees.
The road continues south over the Claireville Dam, which was constructed—like so many things—in the wake of Hurricane Hazel to control the Humber River. The old road continues past the dam to the original entrance to the Indian Line Camp Ground (ah, that’s how it got its name!) before coming to an unceremonious end at a pile of dirt. Although the right-of-way continues south from this point, no evidence of the old roadway still exists until you get to Morning Star Drive. Running south off Morning Star just west of Highway 427 is a short yet remarkably well-preserved stretch of the original road behind a chain-link fence.
The frequent reroutings and eventual abandonment of Indian Line between Steeles and Finch are extensively documented in a thread at the Urban Toronto Forum that includes several aerial photos. A short section of Indian Line is still in service between Campus Road and Highway 409.
Photos by Val Dodge.