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Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Drum Corps Hall of Fame

Three former Optimists have been were honoured by the drum corps community and have been inducted into the Drum Corps Halls of Fame.

Al Tierney posthumously inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (2009)

Al Tierney (1977)
On Saturday, September 5th 2009, Al Tierney was posthumously inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

Al Tierney was one Canada’s most accomplished organizers, administrators and historians, making substantial contributions to the operations of the Toronto Optimists drum and bugle corps, the Seneca Optimists, formed through the merger of the Optimists and Seneca Princemen, St. John’s all girl corps of Brantford, Ontario and the Ontario Drum Corps Association (ODCA).

Al Tierney's daughters,
Denise Tierney and Carol Smith,
accepting the award.

In addition to holding various administrative positions, he was a writer with several drum corps publications over a period of 20 years. He founded the ODCA newsletter, which came to be known as Parades and Pageantry, and served as editor and publisher for many years. He also wrote and published a history of the evolution of Canadian drum and bugle corps from 1934 to 1984, marking the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Drum Corps Association. He served as the Canadian Judges Association caption head for timing and penalties for five years.

His early drum corps experience included playing a bugle for two years with the Royal Canadian Air Force. His strong association with the Toronto Optimists began in 1966 when his two sons joined the corps. In the early 1970s, he was called on to organize a second feeder corps for the Toronto Optimists, following his involvement in founding a kiddie corps in the late 1960s. His executive and planning abilities were so extraordinary that on registration day more than 250 kids signed up to become members of the Optimists organization.

In addition to serving as founder and director of the Optimists Cadets, he also taught marching and manoeuvring for a year. He served as assistant director of the Optimists, becoming director in 1975. Following the merger with Princemen, Seneca Optimists fielded what many observers felt was the greatest Canadian drum corps ever in 1977, the only Canadian corps to win the United States Open title. They also won the Canadian championship and finished ninth at Drum Corps International (DCI) finals, with a spectacular drill featuring a large black and white parachute which covered the corps at the high point of the field routine.

Al served as a co-director, director and business manager of St. John’s from 1972 to 1975. When the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Drum Corps Association was incorporated as the autonomous Ontario Drum Corps Association on May 6, 1976, he became the first president, serving until 1979. In 1983, he became executive director of ODCA.

Video of Barry's acceptance speech
You may have to increase the volume to hear.

Barry Bell inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame (2004)

(copied from the DCI Website)

Barry Bell was originally scheduled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005. Unfortunately, health issues delayed his induction until Jan 2006).

Barry Bell (Aug, 2004)

Barry Bell, 2006

At his induction, Barry said, “This is wonderful! I have to thank everyone and DCI from the bottom of my heart.”

"It was a delight and surprise," said Bell, who became the musical director of the Toronto Optimists in 1958, and went on to write the drill, design the uniform and logo for that corps.

In addition to his drum corps career, Bell was an architectural representative for an international glass firm. He is currently an instructor for the Toronto Optimists alumni corps, which began rehearsing late last year.

Ray Roussel, who supported Bell's nomination, said, "For me and many others Barry was a teacher, an inspiration and a hero. He had the deft ability to inspire and draw from you more than you thought you had, to take you beyond what you thought your talents and abilities could achieve."

Barry Bell (Aug, 2004)

Bernie Beer, 1960

Bernie Beer

(extracted from the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame website)

In 1978, Bernie Beer was the first Canadian inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

Bernie was associated with the famous Toronto Optimists drum and bugle corps which won 11 straight national championships After leaving Optimists, he became director of the Canadian Commanders, the first Canadian super-sized corps. Commanders were formed through the amalgamation of the Jesters of Toronto and the Viscounts, of Hamilton, Ontario.

Bernie was considered an expert administrator, widely admired for his ability to run the corps in a business like manner.