Yonge Street is a major arterial route connecting the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto to Lake Simcoe, a gateway to the Upper Great Lakes. Until 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records repeated the popular misconception it was 1,896 km (1,178 mi) long, and thus the longest street in the world; this was due to a conflation of Yonge Street with the rest of Ontario’s Highway 11. Yonge Street (including the Bradford-to-Barrie extension) is actually 86 kilometres long. The construction of Yonge Street is designated an Event of National Historic Significance in Canada. Yonge Street was fundamental in the original planning and settlement of western Upper Canada in the 1790s, informing the basis of the concession roads in Ontario today. Once the southernmost leg of Highway 11, linking the capital with northern Ontario, Yonge Street has been referred to as “Main Street Ontario”. Today, no section of Yonge Street is a provincial highway.
The street was named by Ontario’s first colonial administrator, John Graves Simcoe, for his friend Sir George Yonge, an expert on ancient Roman roads. Yonge Street is a commercial main thoroughfare rather than a ceremonial one, with landmarks such as the Eaton Centre, Yonge-Dundas Square and the Hockey Hall of Fame along its length—and lends its name to the Downtown Yongeshopping and entertainment district.
In Toronto and York Region, Yonge Street is the north-south baseline from which street numbering is reckoned east and west. The eastern branch of Line 1 Yonge–Universityserves nearly the entire length of the street in Toronto and acts as the spine of the Toronto subway system, linking to suburban commuter systems such as the Viva Blue BRT