I discovered an air route by accident the other day while taking a close look at my Toronto VNC.
I had never heard of an air route before until I dug a little deeper.
Air routes differ over airways in that they are in uncontrolled airspace. That is, air routes are not controlled by ATC, unlike airways.
They may pass through controlled airspace, but the space on either side of the route is not class E, like an airway is. “Pygmie” on avcanada.ca explains it this way:
The designators AR and BR (there might be a couple others) are used to designate air routes and while part of the airway [i think he meant air route] may be within controlled airspace, they do not “create” controlled airspace.
You will be able to see them on your charts are are usually designated with names like AR30.