Home > Life, The Universe, & Everything > Legally Turn Left On A Red Light? In Toronto?: Exploring Toronto Part VII

Legally Turn Left On A Red Light? In Toronto?: Exploring Toronto Part VII


Sign allowing left turn on red light

Sign allowing left turn on red light southbound on Hilda Ave onto Jonathan Gate

No, technically this sign is not in Toronto. This sign and the intersection for which it is giving instructions is in the Greater Toronto Area in the city of Vaughan a bit north of Toronto’s city line. I have never seen any other sign like this or an intersection like it anywhere else in North America so I thought it was interesting enough to share in my Exploring Toronto series of blog posts.

Legal Left Turn On Red Thornhill Ontario Canada

How I wish that light had been red when I took this picture!

This sign which says that at this intersection it is permitted for a driver to make a left turn on a red can be found at the intersection of Jonathan Gate and Hilda Avenue in the community of Thornhill in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. I have known about this intersection for well over a decade as I have a number of friends who grew up right around the corner from here and have always taken a special pleasure in making a left turn on this red light…although to be honest I almost never have reason to because I almost never had a reason to go down Jonathan Gate. Just look at where it is (in the Google Maps screen grab below). Sometimes – and this is even rarer – something even more maliciously fun is if someone who doesn’t bother reading the sign is sitting with their left turn signal on and not moving at the red light you give them a nice, long honk and point out your window at the sign so they realize the error of their ways. Don’t judge me! It’s sometimes fun to not be the nicest, most polite person out there, admit it!

Google Maps Jonathan & Hilda Intersection

You are, at this point, probably wondering why the heck this sign exists allowing drivers to do something which is so contrary to everything we are ever taught here in North America. The reason is actually very simple and logical and it is amazing how much common sense the municipal government had when they put it up. If you look in the above picture and the panoramic below you’ll notice a couple of things about the intersection:

  • There is a cross walk at the far side (it is bright yellow and on the ground and has a sign denoting its existence).
  • There are no traffic lights from Jonathan Gate onto Hilda Avenue, only stop signs.
  • Jonathan Gate ends at Hilda Avenue and becomes a driveway.
  • The driveway has “No Entry” signs for people coming from Jonathan Gate.
Jonathan Gate & Hilda Thornhill Ontario panorama

Jonathan Gate & Hilda Ave, Thornhill, Ontario panoramic shot looking south. Click to enlarge.

All of the above factors mean that when the lights are red there is no chance of anyone driving through the intersection from Jonathan Gate onto the driveway so a driver must only look to their right to see if anyone is coming out of the driveway. Even the probability of that isn’t high more often than not because the driveway is a school’s driveway so the traffic on it – except when school is starting and finishing – is fairly light. Beyond that, often when the light is red it is because someone triggered it to go red by pushing the cross walk button. Because the stopping line is set back from the intersection (behind the cross walk) it is illegal to make a right turn onto Jonathan Gate from Hilda on a red light which means there is almost no danger in someone making a left onto Jonathan from Hilda coming from the other direction!

This is definitely one of the strangest intersections in the Greater Toronto Area or even anywhere I have ever seen. It sure makes a great trivia GTA question though!

Another strange intersection I have seen in Toronto is one in the Forest Hills neighborhood where Vesta Dr and Old Forest Hill Rd and Dewbourne Ave meet. I blogged about that strange intersection here.

Have you ever seen any strange intersections like this one?

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  1. Marie Bastian
    February 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I’ve never seen those signs in Toronto! That is so good to know, thank you!

    • February 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      You are very, very welcome Marie.

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