PMCL has branched out even more by expanding into the tourism market. The company had always been involved in tourism to some degree but the big push came within the last 20 years. By expanding their motor coach tours across Canada and the United States and with the purchase of a cruise boat (Miss Midland), the company was now able to put together a sightseeing motor coach tour combined with a 2 ½ hour boat cruise among the 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay. This mix of services proved to be a profit making combination in that the total number of passengers carried in the boat operation tripled within 3 years.
In 1985, PMCL purchased a 26 passenger cruise vessel (Stewart C) and began an eight month rebuilding project of the boat. By utilizing in-house machinists, PMCL renamed the vessel "Ste. Marie I" after the historical Jesuit Missionary Site Ste. Marie Among the Hurons in Midland. The Ste. Marie I was rebuilt to hold a passenger capacity of 72 persons and operate on the waters of Georgian Bay. PMCL would later move the Ste. Marie I to Toronto Harbourfront in order to engage in market opportunities and diverse geographical expansion. In order to tie their packaged motor coach and cruise boat touring package together, PMCL embarked on an advertising campaign that even today proves to be financially beneficial. Since the motor coaches were now being seen across North America, advertising mats were installed across the rear of the vehicles. These advertisements allowed motor tourists traveling behind the motor coaches to view the cruise boat service offered by the same company as that of the bus in front of them. This innovative advertising move proved to be financially successful as bookings were made from across Canada and the United States.
The years 1986 and 1987 saw PMCL tender on a vast amount of routes and contracts in order to link the surrounding communities. Municipal contracts for the City of Barrie, City of Orillia, Town of Midland and Town of Collingwood were secured by PMCL. Each municipality owned the buses as PMCL supplied management, drivers, insurance and storage. Expansion of school bus routes in Metropolitan Toronto were awarded to PMCL for the Metro Separate School Board, Peel Board of Education, York Board of Education and York Region Separate School Board also in 1987 and to which PMCL still operates to this day. With the increased emergence of handicapped people in todays society, modes of transportation had to be upgraded for the needs of the new traveler. PMCL has owned wheelchair-accessible school buses for over 15 years now, enabling local students to travel to and from school worry free. In January of 1988, PMCL added four new coaches with wheelchair lifts, used for the shuttle service between Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
1988 saw PMCL expand their motor coach routes further. New and revised Inter-city contracts by the OHTB allowed the company to solidify the network of routing that PMCL visioned in past years. The following routes broadened PMCL scope and again allowed them to maintain their close contact to Midland and the surrounding areas: Toronto-Barrie-Orillia, Toronto-Barrie-Midland-Penetang, Toronto-Barrie-Collingwood, Toronto-Barrie-Owen Sound and Toronto-Bolton-Alliston-CFB Borden-Collingwood. These additional routes enabled PMCL to have a broad distance to serve while they were able to establish transfer points that would decrease the amount of buses needed to run the routes and again be cost-effective.
The 1990s have proven thus far to be a milestone for the small company that was coming close to celebrate their 125th anniversary. With the success of the rebuilding of the Ste. Marie I, PMCL decided to enlarge the Miss Midland from 72 feet to 82 feet. This enlargement allowed PMCL to increase the passenger capacity of the vessel from 215 to 250. This decision by PMCL was based on the clear vision and direction that they had to the tourist community of Midland and Penetanguishene. To expand further, PMCL utilized the use of the decals placed on the rear of their motor coaches to offer daily bus-boat packages that enabled travelers from Toronto to take a full day excursion from downtown Toronto to Midland via PMCL motor coach and have a day of cruising the beautiful waters of Georgian Bay in one round trip. This strategy by the company paid off tremendously as people began to realize the savings they were incurring in both time and money.
With the majority of charter coach business beginning to come from the Toronto area, PMCL decided to relocate and expand their office and maintenance facilities in Metropolitan Toronto. This larger location not only enabled PMCL to house more buses, but also allowed them to be the closest of all Toronto area motor coach and school bus operators to Downtown Toronto and Pearson International Airport. This strategy has proven viable to PMCL as time and costs are saved from traveling over an entire city to get to pickups and problems that have unsurprisingly occurred.
With the exceptional performance that PMCL exhibited while running the shuttle service between Terminals 1, 2, and 3 at Pearson International Airport, Transport Canada, in 1992, again awarded the company the contract to continue the service for an additional 5 years. With this renewal, PMCL purchased four new Inter-terminal shuttle buses for Transport Canada and redesigned the shuttling operation to better suit the needs of travelers shuttling between the three terminals. As many businesses venture into new markets, some prosper and some fail. The saturated Toronto Harbourfront boat operation saw PMCL decide to pull out and re-think the existence of a second tour boat operation. However, to PMCLs advantage, the new owner of the Ste. Marie I defaulted on payments and PMCL eventually repossessed the tour boat. After fully refurbishing the boat, the company began tour operations in the City of Barrie. This presence of yet another PMCL service in the city, allowed the company to offer a second bus-boat package to tourists wanting to visit the Barrie area.
With their newly expanded tour boat operation progressing in the City of Barrie, the company once again decided to expand the Miss Midland to further gain off the demand for the operation. With the oversight and help of Canadian Coast Guard architects, PMCLs naval architects expanded the Miss Midland to 100 feet and enabling the tour boat to carry 300 passengers. Not only was the company able to create a 25 foot dance floor at the rear of the boat, they made the vessel fully wheel chair accessible and added Karaoke and DJ equipment for daily cruises and personal and professional parties.
Having been granted more contracts from the OHTB and having increasing demand for charters throughout Canada and the United States, PMCL began to expand their motor coach highway and school bus fleet on an annual basis. PMCL began new inter-city routes to Toronto-Barrie-Orillia-Gravenhurst-Bracebridge-Port Carling-Bala and Toronto-Barrie-Collingwood-Owen Sound-Southampton-Port Elgin-Kincardine-Hanover-Walkerton-Durham. PMCL now began to expand outside their home-base region of Midland-Barrie-Orillia-Collingwood and once again began to put the customer first and give top quality service to surrounding communities.
This year, PMCL will be adding another cruise boat to the City of Barrie. An opportunity came about when the company heard that a triple-decker paddle wheel boat was for sale in Peterborough, Ontario. The original ship was named the Trent-Voyager and was built in the spring of 1982 by Ontario Waterway Cruises. The name was later changed to Serendipity Lady after it was sold by Ontario Waterway Cruises. The Serendipity Lady was licensed for 18 passengers and 5 crew members and operated day cruises between Georgian Bay and Ottawa. There were 7 cabins on the mid-deck with a shower and a lounge area on the main deck. The main deck also had dining facilities, a galley and two additional passenger cabins and three cabins for the crew.
In September, 1995, PMCL started the reconstruction of the Serendipity Lady. The new ship will be renamed Serendipity Princess with a new capacity of approximately 250 passengers. The Serendipity Princess is a Canadian Coast Guard Approved paddle-wheeler with accessibility for wheelchairs and fully licensed by the L.L.B.O. As with all privately owned bus companies in Ontario, a mix of services is essential to offset the losses in one area with other areas which have profit making potential. PMCL has operated in this fashion with its inter-city line routes, highway charter coaches and with its many school, Municipal and Federal contracts.
Teamwork is the main driving force amongst PMCL employees and they have come to realize that if the company succeeds, they will succeed as well, both personally and financially. It is because of this realization the unions have never been needed in changing the companys direction. From office staff, drivers, maintenance mechanics and administration, the employees work as a team for the betterment of the company. Each individual follows the same standards of pride in their work as Laval Dubeau has instilled over the past 60 years. According to Laval,
"I feel the main reason why this company has done so well as it has is that we work together as a team and we have constantly stressed top notch services for our customers. I know that for a fact. I have been in the business for over 60 years and we would not be where we are today if it werent for our workers, or if our customers had not been our first and foremost priority."
PMCL is a very family-orientated company dedicated to serving the transportation needs of the traveling public. An uninterrupted line of Dubeaus have run the family enterprise since the companys beginning in 1867. The fifth generation of Dubeaus coming along numbers 13. Good, sound management and a committed employee base have been the key to the years of success and the future of PMCL.
PMCL was purchased by Laidlaw-Greyhound Transportation in 1997 and at that time had a total close to 600 employees, a fleet of over 400 vehicles was the oldest and one of the largest transportation and tourism operators in Canada. The company had come a long way since its humble beginning in 1867. As they celebrated over 129 years in the transportation business, PMCL was truly one big happy family with one eye on the past and the other cast towards the future.
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