From “Metro-Toronto Reservist Band” to “Heritage Brass”

In 1988, Bandmaster Victor B. Kingston (R) had the inspiration of forming a Divisional reservist band. He approached the Divisional Commander for the Metro-Toronto Division, Lieut. Colonel Norman Coles, who readily agreed with the proposal and gave it his full support. Bandmaster Kingston then undertook the organization of such an aggregation.

The formation of the Metro Toronto Reservist Band, as it was then known, was no mean feat since everything, instruments, music, uniforms, and practice location, had to be obtained. Divisional Headquarters helped financially to get things moving, along with generous discounts from the Trade Department. Lieut.-Colonel Coles continued giving guidance and encouragement by being personally involved in the Band’s formation. He had every confidence in Bandmaster Kingston’s ability to establish and maintain the group in accordance with Salvation Army principles.

Bandmaster Kingston was an excellent organizer and gathered about him people with similar abilities. With the aid of Toronto businessman Paul Willison, a Board of Directors was established which consisted of thirteen members and met the official approval of Commissioner Will Pratt, the Territorial Commander at that time. This kind of Board, reduced to ten, was required by the Canadian government for groups applying for funding grants from the New Horizons Program for projects in which seniors were involved. The first listing consisted of Paul Willison – Chairman, Lieut.-Colonel Nick Bell, Lieut.-Colonel Clarence Burrows, Bill Chinnery, Wally Court, Reg Cutler, Major William Davies, Wilf Dean, Ed Judge, Major George King, Vic Kingston, Captain (now Lt. Colonel) Mervin Leach, and Ted Robbins. The membership of the second Board was Paul Willison – Chairman, Major William Davies, Bill Colley, Lieut.-Colonel Clarence Burrows, Bill Chinnery, Reg Cutler, Wilf Dean, Ed Judge, Victor Kingston and Ted Robbins. New Horizons came through with a substantial grant which certainly helped in equipping the band.

There was little doubt there were enough band reservists in the greater Toronto area and elsewhere to form a band The first meeting for potential band members was held on Thursday, February 11th, 1988 and this was followed by its first band practice at Yorkminster Citadel on Thursday, February 18th, 1988. It was on March 30th of the same year that Bandmaster Kingston wrote an official letter to Mr. Ken Moffatt of the government’s New Horizons Program to report on the membership of the Army’s Metro Toronto Reservist Band, and Major William Davies did the same in listing the band’s roster to Captain Mervin Leach at Divisional Headquarters. Records seem to indicate that the initial membership was as follows:

Bandmaster Victor B. Kingston Agincourt Temple
Solo Cornet Bill Burditt Hamilton Argyle
Herb Dowding Burlington Corps
Aubrey Brookes Etobicoke Temple
First Cornet Bert Wormington Brampton Corps
Second Cornet Fred Ward North Toronto Citadel
Flugel Horn Major Bill Davies Agincourt Temple
Solo Horn Bill Chinnery Agincourt Temple
First Horn Stan Burton Scarborough Citadel
Second Horn Gord Hann Scarborough Citadel
Dave Gillard North Toronto Citadel
Euphonium Ted Robbins Agincourt Temple
First Baritone Reg. Cutler Etobicoke Temple
Second Baritone Reg Gray Scarborough Citadel
First Trombone Lieut. Col. Len Knight Yorkminster Citadel
Second Trombone Keith Ketteringham Yorkminster Citadel
Eb Bass Fred Read Mississauga Temple
Wally Court Etobicoke Temple
BBb Bass George Russell Yorkminster Citadel
Ed Judge London Citadel

Commissioner Arthur Pitcher (R) was appointed the first Executive Officer of the MTRB

Looking back, although April 20, 1988 was the day when the band gave its first ‘less public’ musical program at the Super Sixties Club at Yorkminster Citadel, it was on April 23rd, 1988 that the official inaugural public concert of the Metro Toronto Reservist Band was performed at Agincourt Temple. The Metro Toronto Reservist Band was introduced by the Divisional Commander, Lieut. Colonel Norman Coles. Agincourt Temple Band also took part in this inaugural concert.

Since then the band has changed names, first to the Ontario Central Reservist Band and, in 2007, to Heritage Brass but, over the years has maintained a full schedule proclaiming the “Good News Gospel” through the avenue of music.