The  Optimists  Alumni  Drum  &  Bugle  Corps

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

. . . March On!

Toronto  Optimists:  1962

Toronto Optimists at Junior International, the last time they wore the old uniforms (1962)

On retreat at the Junior International (1962)
The last contest in which the Corps wore the original uniforms

Toronto Optimists in Quebec City (1962)

The Optimists in Quebec City (old uniforms)


Optimists lost a couple of contests to De La Salle in 1961 and we were determined to make sure that did not happen again. Of course, Del's plan was to come out on top. A rally night was held in late 1961 and that set the tone for the coming year. 1962 would be a "new" year for The Optimists.

Jim McConkey came on board as our new Drum Major; the old repertoire was replaced with new arrangements by Truman Crawford; our uniforms changed from a dark green to a brighter Kelly Green and Optimists' status in the drum corps world took a major step forward as Optimists beat the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights and the Garfield cadets in Rome, NY. Some people maintain that the 1962 corps was the best corps ever fielded by The Optimists. ; others disagreed. Many would agree with something that Vern Johansson once said: "The best year was the year you were in the corps."

The old year ended with the usual Christmas parades; however, this year there was one performance with a difference — Optimists performed as the Port Credit Pear Pickers.  You can view an Acrobat file of Sadie Mau Mau's article on the Port Credit Pear Pickers from the January 1962 GCC.

Learning a completely new show made for a challenging winter; however, it was well worth the effort because the new show was great! The 1962 performance year began with the usual indoor shows, things like the Ice Capades and some indoor concerts; however, the highlight was a special Easter trip to Quebec City.

Some Memories

John Wayne becomes an honorary member of the Toronto Optimists (1962)

John Wayne and Jim McConkey (1962)

The first contest of the year came early, on June 2nd. It was the Junior International, in Toronto. The Optimists came in second, only 0.36 points behind the winners, Garfield Cadets and almost 6 points ahead of St Catherine's Queensmen, the third place corps. An excellent beginning to the year!

Toronto Optimists on Retreat (Rome, 1962)

On retreat at the Junior International (1962)
The last contest in which the Corps wore the original uniforms

Later in June we were in a parade in Toronto, a parade to promote John Wayne's new movie, "Hatari". John Wayne would be part of the parade and Don Daber saw this as a great way to promote the Corps. As always, Don managed to find a way to do so. At the end of the parade John Wayne was presented with a membership card making him an an honorary member of the Toronto Optimists. The image on the right shows Mr Wayne with his honorary mmbership card.

Unfortunately for The Optimists the corps only had about six competitions during the 1962 season. As a result, they never really reached their full potential. There was, however, a major highlight.

On July 14 the Optimists introduced their new uniforms. The new uniforms were a brighter green with the white strip, now on both the front and back, edged in black. They looked stunning. July 14th was also the date of a contest that stood out in everyone's memory.

The two corps that members of the Optimists idolized most were Garfield and Blessed Sacrament. And Jim McConkey, Optimists' Drum Major, had once been Drum Major for SAC. On that day in July, christening their new uniforms, the Optimists competed against both SAC and Garfiled in Rome, NY. For the very first time the Optimists managed to beat both of these corps. Corps members saw that as the beginning of a new phase in the life of the Corps.

Later That Summer

Toronto Optimists in the Grey Cup Parade (1962)

Toronto Optimists in the Grey Cup Parade (1962)

On August 25, the Optimists met their local rivals, De La Salle, at a contest that was part of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). In 1961 De La Salle had, for the very first time, beaten The Optimists. Many people were wondering whether Del would do so this year. Those who hoped this would happen were sadly disappointed as Opti beat Del by 8.5 points!

Everyone was looking forward to a rematch that was scheduled for Labour Day weekend in Pittsburg, PA, at the Allegany County Fair. In mid-August, at the VFW Nationals, Garfield had come in 3rd with SAC in 4th place. For the second time that summer, the Optimists would compete against both SAC and Garfield. It could have been a great opportunity to show that their victory in Rome was not a fluke. Unfortunately the skies opened wide, the rain poured down and the show was cancelled!

On September 8th the Optimists won the Canadian Nationals for their 5th consecutive year. The year ended with The Optimists marching in the Grey Cup Parade.

Other Material from 1962

Scores for Optimists and some of our competitors as the summer of 1962 progressed
Corps Name Junior Int'l
(June 2)
Rome, NY
(July 14)
(July 29)
NY - Canadian
(Aug 4)
(Aug 25)

(Sept 8)

(Aug 15)
Optimists 85.33 86.200 82.75 86.30 88.08 88.40  
Blessed Sacrament   84.450         4
De La Salle 79.50   76.15 79.20 79.65 82.00  
Garfield Cadets 85.69           3
St Catherine's Queensmen 79.90 82.200          
St Joe's 73.95     80.55      

Special Notice

We want to add a page of memories for each year of the Toronto Optimists, the Seneca Optimists and the Optimists Alumni. What you see above is an example of what we are trying to create. We hope that these pages will help to rekindle happy memories of years gone by.

Our goal is to gather corps-related memories specific to a particular year, rather than "generic" memories that would apply to all years. These memories could be about such things as performing in the corps, traveling with the corps, watching the corps from the stands, excerpts from articles in old corps magazines, etc. It's not necessary to submit a whole year's worth of memories since contributions from different people can be edited and merged together to form the web page. We'll save the memories that people submit and, once we have enough material, we will compile them into a web page for that particular year. We'll probably add photos, recordings, etc. then we'll post that page on the website.

If you have other memories of this year, or any other year, that you would like to submit, please send an email to Bob Carell (toronto_optimist at