The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alumni Corps member, Rod Patterson marched with the Scarborough Firefighters, Scarborough Princemen and Seneca Princemen
This is a corps that went through a few name changes. At various times they were called the Highland Creek Boys Band, the Scarborough Firefighters; for a very brief time they were the Scarborough Princemen and they eventually became the Seneca Princemen. In 1976 they merged with the Toronto Optimists and a new corps, the Seneca Optimists, was born.
I had planned on creating two web pages, one for the Scarborough Firefighters and one for the Seneca Princemen; however, I've been told by a few former members that many of the same people were in all of the incarnations and they thought of themselves as the Scarborough Firefighters.
Scarborough Firefighters, in the very early days (1964)
Rod Patterson remembers . . .
The Scarborough Firefighters History lesson starts in 1961 with the Highland Creek Boys Band. The fire department took over sponsorship around 1964 and changed the name to the Scarborough Firefighters. In 1965 they won the novice standstill class over the Pickering Blue Notes and, in 1966, they went Junior B. I believe that the fire department bowed out after 1971 and they became the Scarborough Princemen. The following year Seneca College became the Sponsor and the Seneca Princemen were born.
Seneca Princemen, about 1973
DCI judge John Phillips was a member of the corps and that oldest picture of the firefighters in white shirts (see above) actually has John Philips in it.
Peter Daly adds
I started marching, first in the horn line, then on the drum line, with the Scarborough Princemen in 1969, then the Seneca Princemen. My last year was 1975. I want to make note of a few others in the 1964 Firefighter’s b/w photo. I grew up on Dorset Road, just down the street from where the fire hall was / is, where the Firefighters' headquarters was. My two Brothers, John Daly and Kevin Daly, were members (in the picture), for three years. Also pictured are Ron Smith, (our paperboy), who went on to be our Drum Major in the Princemen. Others in the photo that went on with the corps are Allan Jaffray and Greg (“Guppy”) Robinson. Allan, (my cousin), and “Guppy” continued with the Princemen, both on soprano horn. Greg and John Phillips were our best soloists. Greg was always known for his power on the “Super C”.
Scarborough Princemen, about 1972
And Linda Purgas says:
This was one of the groups I marched with.
In 1961 the Scarborough Firefighters were founded and in 1971 became the Scarborough Princemen and in the summer of 1972 became Seneca College Princemen from North York or Willowdale.
In 1973 the corps became the Seneca Princemen and in 1976 pooled resources with Toronto Optimists to become Seneca Optimists.
No, we were not in a drum corps witness protection program, just changes in sponsorship. It even happens to cities! In 1998 Toronto, Scarborough, North York, East York, Etobicoke and York were amalgamated as greater Toronto. Whew!"
Here is a video slideshow of the Scarborough Firefighters. The sountrack is their 1970 Jr B Championship show.
Note: This video was created by Dave Hopkins, an alumnus of the Scarborough Firefighters, turned Seneca Princemen.
Seneca Princemen, 1975