"From Toronto... The Optimists!"
The story of the Toronto Optimists


Graphic for: Colin Hedworth 's book on the History of the Optimists

Click to view draft version of the book
(Last updated: October 22 , 2014)

Many years ago Colin Hedworth, in collaboration with Don Daber, wrote a History of the Toronto Optimists. Colin referred to this as "Book One" and it covered the years from a Boy Scout Band in 1952 up to 1975 when the Toronto Optimists merged with the Seneca Princemen to create the Seneca Optimists. In order to complete the story Colin wrote "Book Two" which focuses on the Seneca Optimists from its inception in 1976 until it folded in 1979.

The original version of this book was handwritten by Colin. Yes, you read that correctly — it was all in long-hand. And, judging by his penmanship, Colin should have been a doctor!! Colin created photocopies of his history and these were sold to those who was interested. Bob Carell created this digital version to ensure that the history was broadly available – in a readable format. Since he did not want to change Colin's words Bob's focus was on correcting errors that were introduced in the transition from cursive to digital format. A secondary task was to add a few footnotes to correct erroneous information or, in some situations, to enhance clarity.

In an attempt to stimulate the memories of readers Bob added photos to the digital version. A major part of getting this book ready for publication involved searching for suitable images, scanning negatives and slides and working on the layout. You'll probably notice that some years have more photos than others. Bob used whatever images he could find and some years had more than others. If he manages to acquire additional photos, especially those of Optimists Canadian competitors, he might update the digital version of the book.

If you want to see a version of the book in Acrobat format (PDF) click on the image at the right. You'll notice that each page has the word "Draft" on it. That's to discourage folks from taking it and publishing it. The file is large and might take a while to load so please be patient. The acrobat file contains the text, photos and, to help you navigate, expandable bookmarks which work as a Table of Contents. If you're using Acrobat Reader the file will open with the bookmarks on the left and the document on the right. The file might appear differently if you're using your browser's built-in reader. At some point you might see changes in the book and that will mean that Bob has started making revisions.

At this point there are about 380 pages (8 1/2 x 11) in the book (about 1 inch thick!). This includes Colin's text, a table of contents and an index of all the photos in the book. The book is illustrated with over 450 images, with some in Black and White and others in Colour.

If you find any egregious errors please contact me at Bob Carell (toronto_optimist at rogers.com) and tell me about the error. At some point I'll post an updated version of the book which will include footnotes for any serious errors.

Colin's Introduction to the book

This is the story of a Drum Corps, not the best, not the worst, definitely not the longest lived. Its appeal comes from the fact that its existence and performance far surpassed the expectations of its founder. Started as a Boy Scout Street Parade Band, it rose to heights undreamed of, right from its beginning. Before its demise, this Drum Corps had set new standards and established a record that, to this, day remains unbroken.

This is not an exposé. In these pages you will not find who did what with or to whom. You will not find any slander or malice, other than the ramifications incurred by events as they unfolded. Other Drum Corps have been mentioned in relation to the Optimists to enable the reader to put things into perspective.

This is the story of the Toronto Optimists Drum and Bugle Corps, told from the perspective of a former member. It has been told before, but not in as great detail. Personal recollections, research, and observations, combined with conversations with alumni will, hopefully, give a balanced record. If any offense is taken, it is the sole responsibility of the author. 

Photo of Colin Hedworth, the author of the History of the Optimists

Colin Hedworth, the author

The Author

Colin Hedworth began his drum corps career with the Danforth Tech Crusaders. He was a charter member of both the Toronto Optimists, as a marching member, and the Seneca Optimists, as a member of their support staff. He played tenor drum with the Toronto Optimists until he aged out at the end of 1962. Colin joined the equipment department of the Toronto Optimists at the end of 1975. As a result, he was also there when the Seneca Optimists began. He stayed with the Seneca Optimists until the Corps folded. During the intervening years Colin maintained an active connection with the corps and its members.

This book is a manifestation of Colin’s love for the Optimists. Colin spent a great deal of time, over a number of years, researching the information that has been included. He contacted former staff and members of the Scout Band, Opti-Corps, the Toronto Optimists and the Seneca Optimists. He also talked with staff and corps members of some of Optimists competitors. His goal was to gather and discuss various versions of stories in an attempt to validate the veracity of the material included.

Sadly, Colin passed away in July 2013 without having had the opportunity to see his book published.