March On! ...the history of the
Toronto Optimists Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Toronto Optimists' first public performance (Ice Follies, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, February 3, 1958)
The Toronto Optimists Drum Corps
This website celebrates the rich history of the Toronto Optimists Drum and Bugle Corps. The corps had its first performance in 1958 and competed for the last time in 1975. In 1958, the corps' first year of competition, the Optimists won the Canadian National Championships. The Optimists then made drum corps history by winning the Canadian Nationals title for 11 consecutive years — winning every year from 1958 through 1968! No other drum corps has ever had such a successful winning streak.
Of course, The Optimists did not magically appear. Nor did they simply disappear. This website includes information about the Optimists Family Tree, the precursors to and the successors of the Toronto Optimists. These include the:
- 18th Toronto Boy Scout Troop (the original Boy Scout Band which began in 1952)
- 157th Toronto Boy Scout Troop (the band changed churches to go to a Scout Jamboree in 1955)
- Davenport Trumpet Band (existed for a brief time in 1955 when the band was searching for a sponsor)
- Opti-Corps (a Junior "B" competitive drum corps sponsored by the Downtown Toronto Optimists Club)
- Feeder corps for the Toronto Optimists (Bantam Optimists, Optimist Cadets, Optimist Lancers, Cadet/Lancers)
- Seneca Optimists (formed in 1976 through a merger of the Toronto Optimists and the Seneca Princemen)
- Optimists Alumni (formed in 2002 to perform at G.A.S. 2004 and it is still entertaining fans)
If you're feeling nostalgic, why not visit our extensive Photo Gallery which contains more than 13,000 images! You'll find photos that range from the initial Boy Scout Band in the 1950s all the way to performances of the Optimists Alumni from its inception until 2019. You will quickly see that the Photo Gallery also includes images of our competitors and many others.
Are you interested in listening to old recordings of the Optimists or watching video? We have audio recordings that begin with the Davenport Trumpet Band in 1955 all the way to the 2019 Optimists Alumni. For video footage you'll find historical footage that includes home movies without audio, a video of the 1967 Toronto Optimists at the CYO Nationals (very poor quality), the 1976 and 1977 Seneca Optimists at DCI and a variety of slideshows featuring the Optimists Alumni.
Organization and Updates
The primary focus of this website is the Toronto Optimists Drum Corps. This includes historical information, photos and audio/video materials. Most of the historical information will be found on the main website.
The Photo Gallery, which contains over 13,000 images, forms a comprehensive visual history of the "Optimists Family Tree". It includes the Scout Band, Opti-Corps, the Toronto Optimists, the Seneca Optimists, the various Optimist feeder corps as well as the Optimists Alumni. The Photo Gallery also includes numerous images of other corps. I suspect that the Photo Gallery will be updated most frequently.
As I acquire more historical information (such as old issues of Green Capsule Comments, video footage, etc.) this information will be posted on the main website.
How to find out what has changed
If you check the "Change History" section (under the "Information" menu choice) you will see what has been changed and when that change occurred.
Check the "Last Uploads" section of the Photo Gallery to see the images that have most recently been added.
Navigating this website
You can use the Dropdown menus near the top of this page to navigate the website.
If you prefer you can use the Site Map (under the Information heading). If you like exploring you can use Links to Individual Pages. This option simply shows a sequence number together with a file name (there are more than 250 unique web pages). There is also a page with links to the various Acrobat files on the website (organized by year). In addition, I've created a Memories page that also has links organized by years.
The Photo Gallery stands on its own.
At the bottom of each page are links to our Home Page and to the top of the current page.
Why was this website created?
The Optimists Alumni Drum Corps was created by a small group of Optimists with the sole purpose of performing at G.A.S. 2004 in Hamilton, Ontario. After that performance the corps was supposed to fold; however, the intent was to continue the website. The original Alumni website was created with a dual purpose: to help the alumni corps members prepare for GAS and to create an online history of the Toronto Optimists. The majority of those original alumni corps members, including Ray Roussel who started the alumni website, were Optimists.
Many things have changed since 2002. For example, eighteen years after its formation the Optimists Alumni Drum Corps continues to be alive and vital, entertaining people close to home and as far away as South Korea. They are now more of a show band and have left traditional drum corps far behind. As an active group they need a website where the primary focus is on promoting themselves.
Another big change is that the majority of current Alumni Corps members never marched with the Optimists. As a result, the connection with the Optimists and its history is disappearing.
For a number of years people have approached me about creating a website dedicated to the history of the Toronto Optimists. I never created that website because I was already responsible for the Optimists Alumni website. That changed at the start of 2020 when I handed over the reins of the Optimists Alumni website.
The redesign of the Optimists Alumni website created an opportunity that I did not immediately recognize. I was familiar with the old Optimists Alumni website because I had designed it. I could minimize my work by using that platform as a base for a Toronto Optimists History website. Doing this would satisfy those who wanted an Optimists History website while allowing the alumni corps to focus on marketing their organization. The Covid crisis helped to provide the time for me to accomplish the work needed to create a new website.
The purpose of this website
This website has two purposes. The main purpose is to keep the memory of the Toronto Optimists Drum Corps alive while the second is to provide a repository for the non-physical historical information related to the Toronto Optimists (digitized photos and GCCs, corps history, etc.). At this point much of the information on this site already exists on the Optimists Alumni website but that will change. As time progresses I envision the two sites taking different directions. I should add that we have no affiliation with the Optimists Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps.
The money to get this site started came from donations and this site will depend on donations to pay future expenses. Those expenses are quite low (about $450/year for domain registration and hosting). As long as people are prepared to make donations this website will continue to exist.
How to make a donation
I have explored a few ways that folks can donate online. In each case there is a cost involved. Sometime there is cost is to set things up but pretty much always there is a charge to both the donor and the recipient. Paying these charges seems like a waste since the cost of keeping this site active is quite low.
In my opinion the easiest and most cost-effective way to donate is probably an old fashioned cheque or a new-fangled electronic transfer. I am, however, open to other suggestions. In the meantime, if you wish to donate, please contact me using the email link below and we can find a way that works for you.
Email: Bob (toronto_optimist at rogers.com).
Looking for the Optimists Alumni website?
Click on the link if you are looking for the Optimists Alumni Drum Corps.
Historical Video Footage
We are looking for video footage of Opti Corps, the Toronto Optimists and the Seneca Optimists. This is a search for memories, not great technique. If you have video footage that you would like to share with the corps, please contact Bob Carell (toronto_optimist at rogers.com).
If you want to see the videos that we already have, please visit our Video page.