The  Optimists  Alumni  Drum  &  Bugle  Corps

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

. . . March On!

"You Better Bleed" — A History of the Toronto Optimists


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. I've created this digital version since most people, with the possible exception of pharmacists, have difficulties reading even their own writing. Since I did not want to change Colin's words my 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 I've added photos to the digital version. Searching for suitable images, scanning negatives and slides and working on the layout is where I've spent most of my time. You'll probably notice that some years have more photos than others. I'm sorry, but I can only use what I have. If I manage to acquire suitable photos, including those of De La Salle, the La Salle Cadets and Scout House, I'll update the book.

At this point there are more than 370 pages (8 1/2 x 11) in the book. This includes Colin's text, a table of contents and an index of all the photos in the book. At present the book is illustrated with over 400 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 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.

Printed copies of the book

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

Click to view draft version of the book
(Last updated: August 6, 2014)

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 I work 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.

I had assumed that some people might decide to print a copy at home; however, as the size of the book grew, I realized that it would be too expensive to print on one's home printer. When I needed a hard copy to assist me with the editing and layout process I took the file to a print shop and got a black & white version. Since that cost over $50 I started looking around to find a way to get a professional book at a lower cost.

It looks like there will have to be a minimum printing of 25 copies. The per copy price will be a few dollars lower if we print 50 copies. The estimates below are to print and bind 360 pages; however, the book has already grown beyond that and it appears that the final version will be closer to 380 pages. Below is the best estimate I received. These are simply the production costs and no profit is being made on the sale of the books.

These prices are good estimates but the final price will be a bit more. By the way, the price does not include postage.

Some people have asked me about a hard cover version. That is not likely to happen. While a soft cover colour version would cost about $60, a hard cover version will cost approximately $110. If there are more than 50 copies the hard cover price would drop to about $90.

If you're interested in a printed copy

I need to know how many people might be interested in buying a printed version of Colin's book. Would you please let me know if you would like to purchase a book. I also need to know whether you would want a Black and White or a Colour version. If there is enough interest it might be possible to print both a B&W version and a colour one. If not, would you go with the majority? Having seen the black and white draft, I think that the colour version will look much better.

At this point I'm not looking for any money, just an indication of interest. If we do print the book it will be necessary to pay in advance for both the book and for postage. I'm guessing that there will only be one print run.

If you are interested please send an email to: Bob Carell (toronto_optimist at

Please indicate how many copies you want (the book could be a nice gift) and whether you prefer B&W, Colour and whether your would go with the majority.

If the interest is there, when will the book be printed? That will depend on how quickly people respond. A notice has been included in the August issue of GCC. I'll have to leave time for responses to arrive and, later, money. I’d guess that the book will be published in the last half of September or early October.

The Title: "You Better Bleed . . ."

"You Better Bleed" is a history of the Toronto Optimists Drum & Bugle Corps, authored by Colin Hedworth. Since this is a bit of a strange title you might wonder how it came about.

The 1962 Canadian Drum Corps Championship was recorded by Fleetwood records. At the end of concert the instructions given by Optimists' Drum Major, Jim McConkey, were recorded for posterity. When the record was released these words immediately entered Drum Corps folklore. Jim's words? "You'd better bleed on the finish line!"

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 exposť. 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.