npiuuwh · 2022-03-01

Caravan was Wasaga’s first transit system

The Wasaga Beach Caravan was created by Sam and Jack Prezio and operated from 1959 to 1962.

Sam and Jack purchased a chassis from McGinnis Trailers in Guelph, then took it to a barn, on Highway 92, owned by Jack MacLean, the original owner of the Dardanella. Through the course of that winter, they built the carriage, complete with a frame for the roof. Barrie Tent and Awning provided the canvas roof and overhangs.

The trailer was pulled by an old army jeep that was purchased from Base Borden. The front bumper was a railway “I” beam. Once all the pieces were put together, Wasaga’s first transit system was ready to go!

The Grand Opening for the caravan was held at the old jail building, which was located where the turn island at the top of First Street is now, with Reeve Tony Beck presiding. The building was renovated to provide public washrooms and became the bus stop for Grey Coach as well as the caravan.

The Wasaga Beach Caravan would provide transportation along Mosley Street with regular stops along the way. A regular trip was made to the Starlight Gardens, an open air theatre, which was located beside Davie’s Dance Club. That property is now a vacant lot just south of the Main Street Bridge on the west side. Patrons would be dropped off to watch the show, then picked up later and returned to their homes along Mosley Street.

The caravan would provide tours along the beachfront and to Nancy Island during the day in the summers. A large speaker was set up with a guide providing the commentary as the caravan drove along.

Every fall, the caravan would be taken to the Canadian National Exhibition, where it was used as backup for their trolley rides. The canvas would remain on the caravan, which provided free advertising for Wasaga Beach.

The caravan was eventually sold to the Woodbine Racetrack, where it was used to carry people from the parking lot to the racetrack.

Although it only lasted three years, the Wasaga Beach Caravan was very popular and well-used. Seeing the picture of the caravan brings back fond memories for those who visited Wasaga Beach in their youth.

Mary Watson is Archivist for the Wasaga Beach Archives. She is now writing a regular column for the Wasaga Sun. If you would like to contact Mary with any historical information, pictures or questions, you can e-mail her at [email protected]