Good Question: Should the 'Ontario' Thruway rest stop be renamed?

Brennan Somers
Updated: February 11, 2020 08:55 AM
Created: February 10, 2020 03:12 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We all know when we're clocking off miles driving down the Thruway, we're eventually going to pass a rest area.

Travel plazas are usually named after nearby cities and towns, but one stood out to a viewer. She asked News10NBC's Brennan Somers to look into it for a Good Question report.


Wendy, the viewer, said when she takes I-90 heading out of Rochester, going to Buffalo, she passes signs along the Thruway that read Ontario Travel Plaza. But, it's not anywhere near Ontario County or the town of Ontario in Wayne County.

While GPS and maps on our smartphones have changed everything for long and even short road trips, we can't help but gauge time and distance based on road signs to give us an idea of where we are.

Driving west on the Thruway from Rochester, the signs point to the Ontario Travel Plaza, which is actually in Le Roy, Genesee County.

So, why isn't it called something similar to that, like the Le Roy rest area or the Genesee Travel Center? There are already rest stops named after Scottsville, Pembroke, and Clarence. 

Brennan asked the Thruway Authority about it. A spokesperson said the locations of the service areas — 27 of them — date back to the 1950s. While not offering specifics for this story, the spokesperson said, in general, they are named after nearby towns and cities.

So why Ontario for a rest stop in Le Roy?

Best guess — you're probably thinking the obvious, and you're most likely right — Lake Ontario.

The Genesee County historian couldn't recall any other landmark or part of that area's history that could explain the name Ontario.

The other option? It could be in honor of Ontario County, which way back in 1789 covered all of Western New York before being split into 14 separate counties.

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