"From  Toronto...  The  Optimists!"

A Story of The Toronto Optimists Drum & Bugle Corps by Colin Hedworth

Many years ago Colin Hedworth, in collaboration with Don Daber, wrote a History of the Toronto Optimists. This was called Book One and it covered the years from a Boy Scout Band in 1952 up to 1975 when the Toronto Optimists disbanded. In order to complete the story Colin wrote Book Two which covers the Seneca Optimists from its inception in 1976 until it folded in 1979.

The original version of this book was handwritten by Colin. He then created photocopies which were sold to those who were interested. Bob Carell has created a digital version since most people, with the possible exception of pharmacists, have difficulties reading even their own writing. Since Bob did not want to change Colin's words, his focus has been 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. Searching for suitable images, scanning negatives and slides and working on the layout is where he spent most of the time. You'll probably notice that some years have more photos than others, but that is only due to what was available. If  suitable photos can be acquired, including those of De La Salle, the La Salle Cadets and Scout House, Bob will update the book.

Toronto Optimists History - story cover

If you want to see a draft version of the book in Acrobat format (PDF) click on the image at the right. 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. By the way, don't be surprised if you notice changes in the book. As Bob works on the layout a few new photos will be added, some might move while others might disappear. The only changes in the text should be corrections. The date of the version currently on the website appears beneath the image on the right.

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 us with detail of the error. At some point we'll post Bob's 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. 

Toronto Optimists History - Colin Hedworth

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.