The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alumni Corps members John Malcolm and Tom Mellors marched with Royalaires.
Guelph Royalaires, 1958
The Guelph Royalaires Drum & Bugle Corps can trace its history as far back as 1932 when a group of First World War Veterans sought to increase their musical knowledge while maintaining their military training and bonds of friendship with like-minded comrades.
The corps eventually became the marching band of the Guelph-based 11th Field Regiment (RCA) etching its first accomplishments by winning the Canadian Standstill Championships three consecutive years in the early fifties –’53, ’54, and ’55.
In 1954, the corps opened its ranks to the community and adopted the name “The Royalaires” in honour of the Royal City of Guelph. At about the same time came the new challenges of marching and maneuvering and the corps set their sights on newer, bigger goals. In doing so, the Royalaires literally won the hearts of growing legions of fans in Canada and the United States.
Photo by Moe Knox
The adoption of the “Love Theme” and the acquisition of their unique cadet style cream, red, and gold uniforms, shakos with white feather plumes the Royalaires were easily recognized by their appearance, precision marching, and repertoire. Their popular “heart” drill pattern soon became their signature and they soon became known as “The Corps with the Heart”.
The Royalaires’ belief in hard work and dedication resulted in six consecutive national titles from 1959 through 1964 a feat unmatched in Senior Canadian Drum & Bugle Corps history. A string of Ontario Provincial and International Championships complemented the Royalaires achievements and popularity. Throughout these golden years, the Royalaires were led by Drum Major Stan Biggs, who was later inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.
The Royalaires continued to field a competitive corps through the late ‘60’s recapturing National Championships in 1968 and 1969. As Canadian corps succumbed to the high costs of travel and new instrumentation, the Royalaires continued on through the 1970’s and ‘80’s keeping pace with the changes that drum & bugle corps were undergoing. Eventually the corps was faced with the decision to withdraw from competition in the 1990’s but continued to be a popular parade corps throughout southwestern Ontario into the new millennium. (taken from the Royalaires website)