The  Optimists  Alumni  Drum  &  Bugle  Corps

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

. . . March On!

Canadian Commanders

Former Commanders

There are more former members of the Canadian Commanders in the Optimists Alumni than any other senior corps. Commanders Alumni include: Al Miller, Barry Bell, Bill Kellas, Bob Keenan, Dave Kirton, Glen Copp, Gord O'Halloran, Len Perrin, Lorne Ferrazzutti, Mel Dey, Rick Robida, Ron Cottrell (?), Tom May and Warren Berger. (I hope I didn't miss anyone.)

The Canadian Commanders were formed in late 1963. The Viscounts from Hamilton, and the Jesters from Toronto, were both struggling to maintain a respectable presence on the Canadian senior drum corps scene. Fred Hawkes of the Viscounts and Vince Macciocchi of the Jesters got their heads together and gained the sponsorship of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association.

The corps started rehearsals in the fall of 1963. On Tuesday night it was in Toronto, Thursdays in Hamilton and Sundays in Oakville. Attendance at rehearsals was so large that one never quite saw or met everyone else.

Canadian Commanders

The very first public appearance that the Commanders made was in an indoor arena in St. Catharines. They had all components of their uniform, except for the bright orange tunics, so they went on in corps "T" shirts. The director had the idea to split all sections in half and send them on separately. The first half marched in, to thunderous applause, and lined up across the arena floor. They covered the floor from one side to the other, and then some.

Don Chisholm, the Drum Major, very theatrically brought the corps to a halt, brought the horns up and made as though the corps was about to play. Then he slowly brought his arms down, the doors opened up again and the second half of the Corps marched in, to the total surprise of the audience. The corps spread across the width of the arena three times.  No-one had ever seen a corps that big before. The audience clapped, cheered and screamed for a very long time. Anyone who played in the corps that first show had goosebumps that lasted for hours and will remember that experience for the rest of their life.

In 1964, the first competing season, the Commanders took second place at the Canadian Championships, being narrowly beaten out by the Guelph Royalaires.  ((taken from the Commanders Website)


This has been a gratifying year for The Commanders. But now, it is the big contest for the year, The Canadian Champion-ships.

Canadian Commanders at the 1965 Canadian Nationals

The Canadian Commanders had such a successful championship appearance in 1964, finishing in a tie for Second Place, that the executive, instructors and players are doubling their efforts for an even better 1965. Some of these people are: Vince Macciocchi, director: Don Douglas, secretary; Fred Hawkes, business manager. The instructors are: Barry Bell, musical director; Al Morrison on horns; Lorne Ferrazzutti on drums; Ivor Bramley on drill ; Bill Coy, guard captain. Drum Majors - Bob Bond and Glen Durish. And we do have some new music and all new drills. We hope you like the theme from "The Cardinal", Hello Dolly, Sing Sing Sing, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, Night & Day, Black Bottom, Besame Mucho, and Alone Together.

Our sponsor, The Metropolitan Toronto Police, Association and The Canadian Commanders hope you enjoy tonight's show. If you would like a record by The Commanders, ask any one of us for directions to the Publicity Department. (taken from the program for the 1965 "Nationals")