Penetang-Midland Coach Lines (P M C L) .... A Corporate History of the Dubeau family of Penetanguishene

Joseph Dubeau, his wife Lucie Parent, and 7 children, came to the Penetanguishene area of Ontario about 1860.  2 more children Joseph Robert (Jun 09, 1861) and Marie-Emma (Jun 30, 1863) were born in Penetanguishene. Over the years, their children moved throughout Ontario, Quebec and the United States.  The Dubeau family of Penetanguishene trace their roots to Joseph Robert.

Penetang-Midland Coach Lines Limited had its beginnings in the middle 1870's when Joseph Robert Dubeau first began operating a livery stable in Penetanguishene at 15 Robert Street. It was here that "livery, first class, single or doubled rigs were always ready for long or short drives." When needed, Joseph harnessed his horses to a carriage and set himself out for hire to run the daily stage eight mile return between Penetang andMidland. The stage coach to Barrie was a voyage that took a full day with a change of horses at Hillsdale. By 1892, with his business in high demand, Joseph began operating a stage coach between Penetang and Midland. These early days often brought about very harsh winters that were challenging to both person and horse. Joseph’s son Arthur, described life under such conditions:

"Some of the sleighs seated twenty, and many a night would carry a load of passengers, snugly wrapped in buffalo robes, to parties and festivities. Winters were long and hard and often drivers could not tell where the road lay because they were riding on top of twenty-foot snow drifts. To keep the coaches from going off course, pieces of fence rail were used as markers and it was not usual to drive by a house and look into the upstairs windows."

One night in March, during the Flu Epidemic of 1918, Arthur had to make an emergency trip to Christian Island (an Indian Reserve on Georgian Bay) to bring two nurses to the Chief’s House. Many of the Indians were critically ill, dying and medical help was desperately needed. This turned out to be a cold and hazardous journey. When the sleigh reached the middle of the bay, it ran a sheet of water so deep that Arthur and the two nurses had to stand on the seat when the water rose up over the floor of the coach.  Joseph’s stage coach operation was a success for many years and following his death in 1917, Albert, 21, took over the business and started a summer jitney service along the Penetang and Midland route using a Model T Ford open touring car. Later Albert, Joseph’s other son, became a driver for the late John Roach (former NHL goal tender) who was operating a local bus service and experiencing difficulties. A crisis occurred when the bus broke down during the busy summer season and Albert then made a quick decision and purchased the bus from Roach for $1,800. He proceeded to purchase another bus shortly after. Penetang-Midland Coach Lines Limited was on it’s way!

In 1925, Albert Dubeau and the latest addition to his small company were the talk of the town. The following article appeared in the local paper describing Albert’s new purchase:

[PMCL BUS #6]"Mr. Bert Dubeau is replacing one of his present buses running between Midland and Penetang with one of the most up-to-date buses on the market. It is equipped with 15 wicker chairs, there being double chairs on one side and single chairs along the other, with four more across the end.

The new bus has a carrying capacity of 15, with baggage or parcel racks on top. It will be available for trips to any part of the Province of Ontario, and regular trips will be run every Sunday morning from Penetang to the Martyrs’ Shrine.

The bus will run every day, leaving Midland on the hour and Penetang on the half hour. When it is off the service on other trips, there will be no interruption in the regularity of the service.The buses operated by Mr. Dubeau on this service, covered 90 and 138 miles each and every day; the necessity of getting one of the best is therefore apparent. The purchase of the new bus is $5,800."