The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Mike Lang and Rick Lang, former members of the Etobicoke Crusaders, now play with the Optimists Alumni.
Etobicoke Crusaders, First Performance, 1969
Etobicoke Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps 1969 — 1974In the summer of 1969 the Michael Power Knights competed in the Canadian Drum Corps Association (CDCA) circuit as a “B” class corps for the last time. The corps was affiliated with Michael Power High School in the west end of Toronto and had just added female guard members in the fall of 1968. The corps had both male and female guards competing in the CDCA & Upstate New York Guard Circuits in the winter of 68/69.
In the fall of 1969, amidst tears, the Michael Power Knights announced that it was folding. The headline of the Michael Power High School newspaper read “Knights Gone”. A few members left for De La Salle and Toronto Optimists, while Vic Lang, the father of 3 boys (Mike, Rick and Dave) spearheaded an effort to start up a new Corps immediately. The new corps was named the Etobicoke Crusaders.The new corps executive worked to secure instruments and some used uniforms from Chessman in St. Catharines which had recently folded. The uniform was an exact replica of a little known corps called Phantom Regiment. (Acrobat file of newspaper article)
The first performance of the Etobicoke Crusaders was at a Remembrance Day ceremony in November 1969. Over the winter of 1969/1970, the members and executive worked hard to recruit and raise funds so that they could field a viable unit in the summer of 1970.
The corps was fairly young in age, with members from the age of 10 to 19, but were determined to grow and improve. In their first year of competition, ECDC competed in a number of shows in Ontario, Quebec, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Etobicoke Crusaders, 1973
Vic Lang remained as Corps Director for a couple of years until this role was taken over by Bob Duggan. Bill Strong and John Arbow were the equipment Managers that helped keep the corps on the road. Bill Strong later became Corps Director.
Throughout their history the Etobicoke Crusaders rose steadily, becoming the Junior B National Champions in 1972 & 1973. In 1972 the Crusaders came a close second, in their class, at the U.S. Open Finals in Marion Ohio after coming first in the Prelims. In 1974 the Corps competed at the Junior A level finishing 3rd behind Seneca Princemen and the Optimists.
After the 1974 season which saw Cadets La Salle fold the previous winter and De La Salle opting to not compete in the CDCA and subsequently folding after the season Corps Director Bob Duggan announced
that De La Salle Oaklands would be merging with the Etobicoke Crusaders and the new corps would compete in the summer of 1975 as the Oakland Crusaders.
Instructors through the years included among others:
Gil Grisson. Vic Kruklis, Lloyd Francis, Clayton Keat, Bill Rutherford, Joe Palanica, John Cameron, Wayne McGrath, Bob Duggan, Gary Duggan, Dan Sautner
Repertoire Over the Years:
1970 March of the Charioteers, Big Spender, Once in a While
1972 Jesus Christ Superstar
1973 Jesus Christ Superstar Reprise
1974 "Overture" Jesus Christ Superstar/Heaven on Their Minds, St. James Infirmary, Gethsemane, King Herod's Song
Thank you to Cathy Walker (Johnson) for writing this!