Wasaga had one of the best beach patrol lifeguard systems in North America for decades.
Total lifeguards on busy week-ends reached as many as 24 with a dozen or so high lookout towers spread along the beach, guards with binoculars, two way radios for instant communication and rover guards patrolling the sands. We had our own test regardless of what qualifications you had or experience. Some well qualified lifeguards failed.
John Watt Describes the program, "We trained daily under the leadership of the Owen Brothers and others who did a tremendous job keeping us fit. Also part of our training and testing we had serious "Mock Rescues" on rough waters and poor weather days. The guards were "not told when this was going to happen"keeping us on our toes at all times. This was a serious Beach Patrol program that became legendary in the Beach Lifeguard world not only in Canada but North America and beyond." This, combined with two rescue boats for rapid emergency response and enabled response times within seconds not minutes.
The program was scaled back and finally terminated in the 1990s. The Ministry of natural resources tore down the tax payer funded lifeguard chairs and burned them. Since then there has been ongoing multiple drownings and public outcry to bring back lifeguards to no avail. The Chief Coroner of the province of Ontario with high levels of drownings in summer of 2010 requested john submit a "report on drownings in all high profile populated beaches in Ontario which obviously included Wasaga Beach.. He voluntarily submitted that 12 Page report in September 2010. The coroners findings in 2011 he agreed with John's recommendation stating " it would be prudent to bring back lifeguards to Wasaga Beach immediately" as well Sand Banks Picton, and Rock Point on Lake Erie. This was in "2011 seven years ago since that strong recommendation and the drownings continued . This on top of 20 years of John and Elaine's campaign and advocacy to this day still no lifeguards. The only remaining lifeguard chair is the one in the photo above. It remains our beacon of hope.