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]


Hampton by Hilton in Barrie

Living up to its image as the epitome in unique luxury, a Hilton hotel has arrived in Barrie with an anticipation that had potential guests clamouring for reservations weeks before the facility actually opened. Located on Bryne Drive opposite the new Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton dominates a prominent hilltop offering its guests a view of lush forests in the back or a bird’s eye-view of the city out front with Kempenfelt Bay beyond. From the moment guests approach the drive-through portico, they are in Hilton-land. Welcoming travel-themed music entertains while suitcases are unloaded and makes the transition to the interior environment virtually seamless. While checking in, guests are introduced to the unusual vow given by their hosts. “We not only provide you with a great stay at a great value, we take it a step further with our unconditional 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee,” states the company policy, offered in writing. “It’s simple. We offer friendly service, clean rooms, comfortable surroundings every time. If you’re not satisfied, we don’t expect you to pay. That’s our commitment and your guarantee.” For local resident and hospitality veteran Charlene Grenier, who was hired last fall as the new hotel’s sales and marketing director, the promise is a daunting but exciting challenge. “Things go wrong all the time (in this business),” she laughs. “But we can’t let them. It’s our commitment to good service.” From the outset, the décor suggests the different approach that is taken here. Oversize black and white photographs grace the walls of the lounge. A large-screen television set, perpetually available coffee and tea, and comfortable sofas invite guests to linger in the common area long after the complimentary hot breakfast buffet, with four rotating menus, has been cleared away. The hotel, which opened at the end of February, takes pains to distinguish itself from a generic experience. Hallway carpeting shatters expectations with a recurring design of large blue blossoms running along one wall, while a complimentary diamond gradient lines the other. Patterns and tone used in guest-room furniture and wallpaper are equally unique, providing a homier-than-average atmosphere. “The colour-scheme throughout is non-traditional,” says Grenier. “It’s vibrant and playful.” The little touches all add up to an overall difference. Distinctive room signs, for example, spark memories even while suggesting a world of possibilities. From hay bales and horseshoes, to a paddle wheel and picnic, the tiny monochromatic images offer a gallery of delights before guests ever pass over the marble thresholds into their rooms. Exclusively designed pillow-top mattresses and luxurious linens await in all 104 guest rooms, from the king suites to the more traditional. Additionally, all have access to high-speed wireless internet and a host of in-room amenities like hair dryers, coffee makers and easy-to-use clock radios. The suites feature microwaves and fridges as well. The hotel also offers a recreational indoor salt-water pool, whirlpool and large fitness centre. Business travellers can use the computers, printer and photocopier in the first-floor business centre, and take advantage of the Printer-On print-valet service 24-hours a day. “Say it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, you’re working on your laptop and you want to print something,” Grenier says. “You can just send the document to print and pick it up in the morning.” For corporate conferences and other special events, the Hampton Inn has five meeting rooms to choose from. Together, the Opal and Topaz rooms can accommodate up to 75 people, while the nearby Ruby and Emerald rooms can be used in combination as break-out or reception rooms, or as stand-alone function spaces. The good-things-come-in-small-packages Diamond boardroom features a fixed table that seats 12. State-of-the-art audio-visual equipment can also be arranged. “I love that they are all named after jewels,” Grenier smiles. “They all have floor-ceiling windows with lots of natural lighting.” Working in partnership with the local food-services firm Executive Catering, Grenier and her team can assist with all aspects of event planning including full-service catering. Having worked the first four months for the hotel off-site, she’s thrilled to see the construction phase come to an end. She and the rest of the experienced 25-employee team moved into the new facility only a few weeks prior to opening. “It’s hard to not work out of a hotel when you’re in the hotel business,” says the ever-cheerful Grenier. “We’re all just really excited – finally a Hilton property in Barrie! We’ve got a lot of group business already on the books.” For more information, call Grenier directly at 705-719-9666, extension 6002, or visit


Motion to close SCI back on the table

An item that contradicts recommendations regarding a review of area high schools has been added to the agenda of an upcoming Simcoe County District School Board meeting. But trustee Caroline Smith says addition of the item is unusual and is in contravention of the board’s bylaws. Orillia trustee Debra Edwards put forward a notice of motion at the end of an April 22 board meeting – the motion that is now on the agenda of the board’s June meeting. The motion calls for the closure of Stayner Collegiate Institute, planning for improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Midland Secondary School and conducting an attendance review of the catchment areas of all schools included in the review. "Rather than be a maverick and make motion at the June regular board meeting I am attempting to be very transparent and forthcoming and the notice of motion would publicize the intention," said Edwards told The Sun. "The committee recommendations don’t mean you are out of the woods." She said she will be bringing forward another notice of motion at this month’s board meeting to add the closure of Penetanguishene Secondary School. Edwards said she meant to bring it forward at the last meeting but it was overlooked. She said she would have been in her right to put forward the motions at the June meeting but she wanted people to know that the closure of the three schools would be back on the table. However, Smith, the trustee for Collingwood and Clearview, believes the tabling of the notice of motion at the last meeting contravened the board’s bylaws. She said there’s no substance to the notice of motion and she is concerned people are trying to skirt the area high school accommodation review process that’s playing out. At a special facility standing committee held April 14, trustees voted on recommendations regarding area high schools under review, made by school board staff. Smith and other trustees took issue with voting at the meeting because originally the staff report was only to be received for information. The accommodation review committee (ARC), a volunteer community committee struck to find solutions to enrolment issues in the area, also believed no voting would take place that night. Staff said the timeline had been changed during the process. Board staff have recommended closing Stayner Collegiate, Penetanguishene Secondary School and Elmvale District High School in favour of building a central school for Wasaga Beach and parts of Springwater Township, where Elmvale is located, transferring Penetanguishene students to Midland and expanding Collingwood Collegiate, to accommodate students who attend Stayner Collegiate. The scenario would see three schools serve the entire area. "The end output was kind of a mixture of things," said Smith. But trustees voted to keep Stayner Collegiate and Penetanguishene Secondary School open and voted in favour of closing Elmvale in favour of a central school that would also serve Wasaga Beach. They also voted for two of the recommendations made by the ARC. Trustees recommended renovating and removing excess capacity at Midland Secondary School. "Some people walked away thinking they were out of the woods and that is not the case," said Edwards adding that the final decision is the one made by trustees on June 17. Edwards’ motion reflects the recommendations made by school board staff. Providing notice of motion allows the item to be placed on the next agenda. Severn, Ramara and Tay trustee Jodi Lloyd, who chairs the facility standing committee, seconded Edwards’ notice of motion. "This is completely out of order if these motions are tied to the ARCs because the business of the ARC is going through a process which is in gear already," said Smith. "In a way it’s usurping the whole process – that the ARC provides its recommendation, the staff provide its recommendation, the board makes its recommendation from that information, the public then knows where the board is going and can come and deputate and then the board makes its final decision." Smith said the notice of motion was not disclosed before it was seconded, despite having asked what it contained. She said Adjala-Tosorontio and Essa trustee Robert North asked that it be read aloud and it was. Before she knew what was contained in the notice of motion, Smith gave notice of another motion that renovations be made to Stayner Collegiate Institute to replace the portable complex located at the school with a permanent addition. Smith said she knew her motion was out of order, as she believes Edwards’ motion to be, but both passed. "I object vehemently that this could be tied to any thought of giving notice. This is nothing other than one trustee giving her opinion as to a motion. And what’s even worse is that our bylaws say a motion has to go to the next meeting and in her motion she says she wants it to go to the June 17 meeting," said Smith.   Smith said according to procedure, the motion will put the item at the top of the agenda and dealt with at the beginning of the meeting. Trustees are still waiting to hear public input at the last round of delegations on May 14. Depending on how many people schedule a delegation, it is possible other meeting could be added. Smith said procedure can be a dry topic but it’s not to be taken lightly. "Because we are in a bigger process, we’re in a guideline process from the government and a guideline has the same value as a regulation so it’s a very powerful thing when you get a set of guidelines from any ministry," said Smith. "There is lot of legalese in here that people don’t actually recognize but things have to be done and markers have to be hit. And one of the things that has to be done is that once the ARC came in then we have this meeting and allow a certain amount of time for people to know where we were going so that they could deputate – its very hard to deputate when you haven’t got a clue where they are going." Anyone to make a delegation regarding ARC B must provide a copy of his or her presentation outline by 1 p.m. on Thurs., May 7 for the May 14 special board meeting. Delegations will also be accepted for the board decision meeting on June 17. Individuals requesting to make a delegation at the June 17 meeting must provide a copy of their presentation outline by 1 p.m. one week prior to the meeting. Both meetings take place at the board’s administration centre in Midhurst, located at 1170 Hwy. 26. Delegation requests should be directed to Lena Robyn at [email protected] or call (705) 734-6363 ext. 11231. A delegation process brochure is available at


Renowned retail consultant speaking in Stayner

Albert C. Plant, a seasoned retail and management consultant, will be the guest speaker at the Clearview Township economic development committee’s (EDC) next Business Exchange session on Wed., May 20. “He’s a friend of mine and so I asked if he’d come and talk to us,” EDC chair Doug Mills said. Mills noted that at past Business Exchange sessions – a chance for merchants to come together and network after hours – people expressed an interest in having a speaker of Plant’s caliber. The Toronto resident, who since 1995 has served as a retail consultant for RBC Royal Bank, will give a speech addressing the “Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Retailing in the Current Economic Climate.” Plant has a total of 35 years retail experience and in 2007 wrote The Retail Game: Playing to Win, a 320-page book published by Douglas and McIntyre. Larry Rosen, the chair and chief executive officer of Harry Rosen Inc., called the book, “A valuable resource, packed with useful information.” Mills said the EDC is hoping for a strong turnout at the upcoming event. He said committee members will be hand-delivering leaflets with information about it to area businesses in the coming days. He said the presentation should be interesting, especially given its timely subject matter. “Fundamentally what we’re doing is education. Hopefully everyone that comes away from it will have learned one useful thing,” Mills said. Catharine Frith of the Greater Collingwood Small Business Enterprise Centre will give a brief presentation before Plant’s speech, Mills noted. Her remarks will outline programs the centre offers to help local businesses improve efficiency and their overall success. The Ontario Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services operate the centre. There is no cost to attend the EDC event and organizers say registration is not required. They note there will be complimentary light refreshments and a cash bar. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Stayner Community Centre on Regina Street. For more information, call Julie Ellis, Clearview’s communications coordinator, at 428-6230, ext. 264 or e-mail [email protected]


Break-in at 7th line home

Police visited a house on the 7th Line after the owner reported someone had broken into the residence sometime during the morning of May 7. A brick had been used to smash a side window. Police found mud tracks throughout the house. No items appeared to have been stolen. Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity is asked to call South Simcoe Police at 431-6121, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Vehicle stolen, recovered Police found a vehicle reported stolen during the night of May 11 a few blocks away, stuck in the mud a few streets away. Extensive damage had been done. No suspects were found. Several vehicles were also ransacked overnight in an Alcona subdivision. South Simcoe Police reminds residents to keep their vehicles locked at all times.


Alliston LCBO hit Friday, again Sunday

Smash-and-grab thieves hit an Alliston liquor store twice this weekend. The LCBO in the Alliston Mills plaza on the west side of town was first hit at about 1:45 a.m. Friday, said store spokesperson Chris Layton. Police arrived at the store to find a front window smashed in by a rock. Two Texas Mickeys, each of which were three litres and worth $110, were stolen. Witnesses said two males were seen running around the west side of the building. Police patrolled the area but could not find the men. They did however find a grey and blue Coleman jacket, which is believed to belong to one of the suspects. The store was hit once again Sunday, at about 9:30 p.m. This time a hammer was used to smash the front window. Police canine units and the emergency response team were called in but could not locate any suspects. Fingerprints were taken from the scene as well as video surveillance footage. This time two $21 gift boxes were stolen. Police said the suspects didn’t actually enter the store in either incident. The cost to repair the damage is estimated at about $2,000. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Over 2,800 attend successful home show

From flooring to fitness, and landscaping to laser therapy, more than 100 diverse vendors displayed their products and services during the successful New Tecumseth Home, Health and Leisure Show. An estimated 2,800 visitors attended the 41st annual event, which was held for the second time at the New Tecumseth Recreational Complex on Industrial Parkway in Alliston. The show was hosted by the Alliston and District Chamber of Commerce. "Wow, what a great home show," said ADCC president Michael Keith. "Every year the show gets bigger and better. On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Alliston and District Chamber of Commerce, I give my sincere thanks to all the exhibitors for participating in the show." The Shop Locally theme is a priority for the ADCC, Keith confirms, and was evident in this year’s show with the strong show of area businesses. The planning committee invited vendors to do more than show up though, they also encouraged them to show off. Based on effectiveness, signage, presentation and creativity, a group of impartial judges awarded the Best Booth Award to the Alliston Home Building Centre for the second year in a row. Alliston Home Building Centre also took home bragging rights for the Greenest Booth, a new award this year that came with a bushy prize from RPN Trees. Picking the winner of the Best Booth and the Greenest Booth was challenging for the judges. All of the vendors who participated did a fantastic job of putting together their booths. With a well-organized and visually appealing booth comprised entirely of environmentally friendly products and services, as well as a ‘Kiddies’ Korner’ to entertain children at the show, the friendly staff of the Alliston Home Building Centre took home both awards. Children attending the show were also entertained by fan favourite clown Smoothie (Don Gates), and by the Ontario Early Years Centre staff, who displayed information for parents and set up a play area for youngsters. The big winner of the weekend, however, was Alliston resident Elaine Tindal who won the grand prize raffle, worth more than $2,000 that was tied into the show’s "green" theme this year. Among the environmentally friendly products she took home were a collection of Energy Star-rated appliances including a ceiling fan, dehumidifier, air purifier, and water cooler. She also received a low-flush toilet, a push lawn mower, a hot water tank jacket, CFL light bulbs, compostable bags, outdoor clothesline kit, yard waste bags, a bucket of eco-friendly cleaning products, and more. Tindal was thrilled, saying she could use everything she had just won. But no one went home empty handed. All attendees were provided with a complimentary re-usable green shopping bag from Sobeys. Volunteers from the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation handed out the bags while welcoming guests and goodwill donations. A total of $2,836.75 was raised for the foundation. The Rotary Club of Alliston presided over the money booth attraction this year where visitors could try to capture air-borne "money" to win prizes. By charging a toonie per try, the club raised a further $300 for the hospital. ADCC president Keith acknowledges the entire team that made the weekend possible, including Encore TeleSolutions, the 24-hour tele-reception service that sponsored the show hotline in the months leading up to the event. "Our congratulations to the show committee for making it such a successful event," said Keith, who added, "a personal thank you to John and Joan McFarland for co-chairing the home show committee. "Another thank you goes out to all the volunteers who worked so hard, and to the staff of the recreation complex who were invaluable." The committee is already planning a meeting to set the foundation for an even better show in 2010.


Window smasher nabbed downtown

Midland police chased, caught and charged a man after a downtown business had its window smashed just after midnight on April 24. Officers arrived at the King Street location and obtained a description of a suspect. About 30 minutes later, a second call brought police to another King Street business where someone was reportedly pounding on a window. Officers tried to speak to a man who matched the earlier description, but he bolted from the scene. A short foot chase later, the 19-year-old Midland man was arrested and charged with mischief under $5,000. He was released with a court date of May 28.


Animal cruelty conviction results in lifetime ownership ban

A Clearview Township woman will not be able to own an animal for the rest of her life after being convicted of animal cruelty in a Barrie courtroom this week. The first-ever lifetime ban was handed down to Patricia Hoel. “A lifetime ban on animal ownership helps to ensure that animals can be protected from abuse and neglect,” said SPCA senior inspector Mindy Hall. “This verdict clearly demonstrates that Ontarians will not tolerate animal cruelty.” Hoel received a three-year probation, with Ontario SPCA inspection rights, and 240 hours of community service. She must also attend an animal empathy course and pay $1,500 in restitution to the Ontario SPCA. Hoel was breeding and selling Shih Tzu puppies and Persian cats through a retail website, and came to the attention of investigators after the Barrie branch of the Ontario SPCA received a complaint about the poor conditions of her property. Investigators found extremely poor sanitation and ventilation on site, and the animals were very dirty and matted. One dog was so badly injured that he required surgery. The animals were seized by the Ontario SPCA and were immediately taken to a local veterinary hospital where they received extensive medical care. Most of the animals will have lifelong health issues, but have all recovered from their initial injuries and were adopted to loving homes, according to the SPCA.


School boards react to code of conduct recommendation

Catholic school board chair John Grise is expecting lively discussion around a provincial report that could mean the mandatory creation of a code of conduct for trustees to define the role of board positions. The Ministry of Education report, School Board Governance: A Focus On Student Achievement, calls for a clarification of the roles of individual trustees, board chairs and directors of education. It also suggests creating a provincial code of conduct for trustees and creating audit committees to oversee school boards. The code of conduct could require trustees to act with integrity, respect others and not speak out against board decisions once made. Trustees violating the code could be censured by the board, lose their honoraria or be barred for up to three meetings, according to the report. Grise said it’s good to define the roles of the board. "There are a lot of positive recommendations and many of them simply serve to define those things that we have been informally doing," said Grise. He said the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and the Simcoe County District School Board operate in a transparent manner. "I feel that not just on behalf of my board, but for my co-terminus boards, that Simcoe County can be really proud of the trustees in the public and separate boards," said Grise. The public board already has an optional code of ethics trustees can choose to sign. Simcoe County District School Board chair Diane Firman said because the current code is optional, it doesn’t really have any teeth when it comes to enforcement. She said she thinks the recommendations are a step in the right direction in updating the current education policies. "It’s a very important step to modernize archaic legislation," she said. Public board trustee and immediate past chair Mary Anne Wilson said she was happy to see the report included input from the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association. Several school boards, including SCDSB, took part in the development process of the report. Wilson said overall she was pleased with the report, but she did still have some concerns however. She questioned why school board trustees should be held to higher standards than other elected officials. She said if trustees are bound by a code of ethics, so too should municipal, provincial and federal representatives. Wilson was also worried about the recommendation that trustees not speak out against the board after a decision had been made. She said it could keep some trustees from trying to revisit past decisions that they think need to be updated or changed. "Like any other body, we will occasionally make mistakes, or the world will change around us," she said. Wilson said she isn’t necessarily opposed to the entire concept of the provision, but she would like to make sure it was worded carefully to allow trustees and boards to reconsider decisions when necessary. Work on the report started in November 2008, when Education Minister Kathleen Wynne asked the governance review committee to meet with the education sector to look into how the governance system could be modernized. The Ontario Public School Board Association has welcomed the recommendations in the report. A press release from the association said the report includes many of the association’s recommendations, and "affirms the importance of school boards as an effective and vital level of governance for promoting democracy and civic engagement at the local level."