Members Of Five Former Sarnia Corps Planning Giant June Reunion
Former members of drum and bugle corps from Sarnia, Ontario will gather at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 62, 286 North Front Street, on June 23, 2012 to renew old acquaintances and celebrate more than 40 years of shared drum corps activity.
The reunion will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with an open-house format including displays of memorabilia, video presentations, drum corps music and, of course, lots of reminiscing. Those planning to attend should bring along their memories and any material they wish to share.
Sarnia, located at the southern tip of Lake Huron on the St. Clair River, has a long and rich history of drum and bugle corps activity dating back to1945. Many ex-corps members will soon get a chance to revisit their youth, growing up in Sarnia-Lambton and belonging to one of Sarnia’s five drum and bugle corps
A committee has been formed consisting of former members from the Lionettes, Marching Angels, Sertomanaires, Bluewater Buccaneers and the Diplomats. They have had a meeting and set an agenda for the reunion. The committee is chaired by Cheryl (Lowden) Upfold, a former Lionette originally from Sarnia who now lives out of the area.
Committee member Ron Yorke said, “Most of the committee live out of town so we rely heavily on the Internet for communicating and also meet in London (Ontario) as a central point to plan the reunion.”
Yorke’s connection to drum corps actually goes back to the year1957 when he joined the Sertoma Boys’ Band. In 1961 the band became a drum and bugle corps, the Sertomanaires. In 1968, after losing sponsorship through the Sertoma Club the corps became the Marching Diplomats and continued until 1972 when it folded.
Yorke’s experience with drum corps is truly a family affair. His brother John was also in the band and then the corps along with his wife, Mary, who was a Lionette as well as her sister, Sylvia.
The late Dr. Randy Williams was executive director of the corps and Johnny Bond was music director and arranger who also wrote much of the Lionettes’ music.
The all-girl Sarnia Lionettes’ roots go back to 1945 when they were first known as the Legionettes because of their affiliation with Branch 62 Canadian Legion. In 1948, the name changed to the Sarnia Drum and Trumpet Band. When the local Lions Club agreed to become the sponsor, it became known as the Sarnia Lionettes. The corps was known as “Ambassadors of Goodwill.” Their long-time Director was the late Jack Mann.
In 1971, long time drum instructor Norm Campbell took over the Lionettes with the corps eventually becoming the Bluewater Buccaneers, who remained active until the year 1986.
Helen Campbell, booking agent, said, “We changed the name to suit our area and, with a nautical theme in mind, decided on Bluewater Buccaneers and the uniforms reflected that.”
The Marching Angels, another all-girl corps, was formed by Bill and Annette Mann in the year 1961. In their striking black and white uniforms, they turned heads wherever they appeared and were known as “Canada’s Sweethearts.”
Bill Mann, corps director said: “My corps were active until the early 1980s.”
All of Sarnia’s corps were seen regularly in parades in the area and many a time they marched proudly down Christina Street with one-and-all cheering them on. Norm Perry Park was the place for pageants and drum corps shows, which took place in the summer/early fall. Top-notch corps from across North America competed.
Throughout the years, all of the local corps put Sarnia on the map, bringing home several trophies and not only making a name for themselves but also for the Sarnia-Lambton area.
Former members are now scattered across the globe and it will be a challenge to try to reach everyone. If you are reading this article and are a former member or you know someone else who was a member, please spread the word about the reunion.
For more information on this event, contact:
Email: sarniadrumcorpsreunion [at] gmail [dot] com
Facebook: Sarnia Drum Corps Reunion