Wasaga Beach is a town in Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada. Situated along the longest freshwater beach in the world, it is a popular summer tourist destination, located along the southern end of Georgian Bay, approximately two hours north of Toronto, and neighbours, to the west, the town of Collingwood. Wasaga Beach is situated along 14 kilometres (8.7 mi)l of sandy beach on Nottawasaga Bay and the winding Nottawasaga River.
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park is the first provincial park in Canada to be awarded the Blue Flag designation for its efforts to manage Wasaga Beach's shoreline according to international environmental standards.
Wasaga Beach and the surrounding area was inhabited by the Huron (Wyandot) people for centuries before they were dispersed in 1650 by the French-allied Algonquin people. The word Nottawasaga is of Algonquin origin. Nottawa means "Iroquois" and saga means "mouth of the river"; the word "Nottawasaga" was used by Algonquin scouts as a warning if they saw Iroquois raiding parties approaching their villages.
In the early 1800s, Upper Canada was drawn into a struggle between Great Britain and the United States. Wasaga Beach evolved into a strategic location in the War of 1812 when the schooner HMS Nancy was sunk at her moorings in an effort by the Americans to cut the supply line to Fort Michilimackinac and points to the north and west. Lumbering was the main industry for the remainder of the 19th century. Logs crowded the river and the bay, floating down to feed local saw mills.
Wasaga Beach's unsuitable sandy soil contributed to the late European settlement of the area, as the lack of suitable farming land made it unattractive to settlers. In the 1820s the first sign of settlement in the area began as John Goessman surveyed Flos Township. In 1826, land was being sold for four shillings an acre. Though unsuitable for farming, the Wasaga Beach area had an abundance of trees. In the late 1830s and throughout the rest of the century the logging industry would play an important role in the development of the area.
During the 1900s, families began to discover the beauty of the area and the beach gradually became a place for family picnics and holidays during the summer months. During the 1940s, while stationed at a nearby military base, servicemen from across Canada visited Wasaga Beach's amusement park, and they made Wasaga Beach known across the country. After the war, Wasaga Beach continued to be a popular place for cottages and day trips, beginning the century-old tradition of city dwellers travelling to the beach in the summer.
Wasaga Beach entered history's headlines in 1934 when the first overseas flight from mainland Canada, across the Atlantic to England and in a plane called the "Trail of the Caribou", used Wasaga Beach's long flat sandy beach as a take-off strip.