Canadian Commanders

Toronto, ONT Canada
Founded: 1964

Inactive Senior

CORPS Photos

The Canadian Commanders were formed in November, 1963, through a merger of two Ontario corps. The Viscounts from Hamilton and the Jesters from Toronto were both struggling to maintain a respectable presence on the Canadian senior drum corps scene at the time, so Fred Hawkes of the Viscounts and Vince Macciocchi of the Jesters joined forces and gained the sponsorship of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association.

The newly formed Commanders, under the directorship of Bernie Beers, were founded on the principle that everyone would march, so that no one would miss out on the experience. The corps started rehearsals in several locations simultaneously in late 1963: in Toronto on Tuesday, in Hamilton on Thursday, and in Oakville on Sundays. Because of the split rehearsal locales, the corps was announced at contests as being from the different rehearsal towns on different nights: Canadian Commanders of Toronto one night, Canadian Commanders of Hamilton the next.

Because of the proviso that everyone marched, the Commanders fielded an unusually large corps right from the beginning. The very first public appearance was in an indoor arena in St. Catharines. The director decided to split all sections of the large corps in half and send them on separately. The first half marched in to thunderous applause, and lined up across the arena floor; they covered the floor from one side to the other and then some. Drum Major Don Chisholm brought the horns up and made as if to play, whereupon the doors opened again and the second half of the corps marched in, to the astonishment of the audience. The corps spread across the width of the arena three times. No one had ever seen a corps that big before. The crowd reaction left goose bumps on corps members for hours, and memories for a lifetime.

That first night the corps members had all the components of their uniform except for the bright orange tunics, so they went on in corps tee shirts. Designed by Drum Major Don Chisholm, the complete uniforms were so bright that they led to the corps nickname of Great Pumpkin. The corps also operated under the moniker of The Stop Light Cadets.

In 1964, the first competing season, the Commanders took second place at the Canadian Championships, being narrowly beaten out by the Guelph Royalaires. In following years, the corps competed in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, acquitting itself fairly well. They had the honor of being invited to the American Legion Championship in Washington in 1966 where they performed at Prelims.

The Commanders’ sister corps during those years was the Rochester Crusaders. It was not uncommon for corps members to borrow each other’s instruments or play in each other’s lines during the retreat.

The Canadian Commanders became the Burlington Commanders when they gained the sponsorship of the city of Burlington, a name the corps retained until the end of its life in 1973.

Many of the old Commanders continue to perform with various alumni corps in the Burlington area.

[Ed Law; Bruce Lindsay]

Members (4)

Member Name Section Years Involved
Carr, Dave (Bomber) Color Guard 1965 to 1972
Mason, Peter Percussion 1963 to 1965
Seager, Richard French Horn/Mellophone 1964 to 1968
Seager, Richard French Horn/Melophone 1964 to 1968

CORPS 2 items

Canadian Commanders

Canadian Commanders from the Bill Ives Collection Contributed by John Parkinson
Canadian Commanders

Canadian Commanders button from the Bob Carell Collection

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