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John Robins
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- J.R. - Words from Al Tierney
- John Robins Roast - 1986
- Memorial Video
- Tribute Video

Northstar Centre

NYO 30th Anniversary
NYO 2007 Reunion
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CDCA 1934-1984
"Salute to 50" Years

CDCA Salute to 50

John Robins

Submitted in 1986 by: Allan J. Tierney, Executive Director, The Ontario Drum Corps Association.

Depending on who you talk to, John Ross Robins, has taken an active part in drum and bugle corps for at last 30 years, and some say even longer. According to some historical references John first became involved in the activity in 1955 when he became a member of the 48th Field Squadron, Royal Canadian Engineers Trumpet Band. At various times he was known to have played a baritone horn, and a bass drum, not necessarily at the same time.

In those years most of the drum corps were connected with the military regiments in the Province, who generally discouraged their trumpet bands from taking part in what was then called "fancy drill" competitions, or, as we would say, M & M contests. To get around this regulation many units formed another group, to compete, used a different name, and a different uniform. This secondary group was known as The Flying Dutchman Drum Corps, and John was also a playing member of that corps.

The 48th finally discontinued, and the Flying Dutchmen became the prime interest. John became the Treasurer in 1959, President in 1961 and Director in 1962. He has been active in instrumental in co-ordinating the many structural changes that have taken place within the organization for the past twenty years.

The Flying Dutchmen played a very active role in the senior scene. They entered competition in 1959, withdrew in 1960, and then returned in 1961.

They travelled extensively in Ontario and New York State and were very popular. They sponsored the Canadian Championships, then called Band Festival, in 1961 and 1962.

In 1967 The Flying Dutchmen were disbanded and many of their members moved to the Royalaires in Guelph. At that time, as a centennial program, John was instrumental in the formation of The Flying Dutchmen Junior Drum and Bugle Corps and on one memorable Sunday afternoon, in a local theatre, they recruited in excess of 100 young people, to form the nucleus of this new corps. In 1969 John was instrumental in forming the Dutch Boy Cadets, which was structured to act as a "feeder corps" for The Flying Dutchmen. As happens with most feeder corps, they broke sway from The Flying Dutchmen and became an independent organization.

John has remained at the head of the organization, generally directly, sometimes indirectly, ever since. The organization saw The Flying Dutchmen Drum Corps become one of the better units in the Province, watched that corps and the Dutch Boy Cadets merge to form one of the best units ever produced in this area, to be known for several years as the Northstar.

Later reformed as the Dutch Boy Drum Corps with a feeder corps the Cadets of Dutch Boy.

In the 1960's and 1970's many of the corps were unhappy with the management and direction of the Canadian Drum Corps Association and led a minor revolt. Among this group were the Flying Dutchmen, and their leader, John Robins. A committee was appointed to consider the problems, and to make recommendations for change. Following many meetings and many suggestions for change, the By-laws of the CDCA were altered and under this new policy elections were held and John was elected President.

He was to serve as President for four years, stepping down voluntarily after the 1975 general meeting. It is interesting to note that the Presidents of the CDCA since that time, have been members of the Board of Directors selected by John to serve with him during his time in office.

Many memorable events occurred during the four years in which he was President. First of all he established the "Award of Merit" to be presented annually for "FOR DEDICATION AND OUTSTANDING SERVICE, IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THE DRUM & BUGLE CORPS MOVEMENT" This has been awarded every year since, for thirteen years, and was awarded to John in 1975.

He was instrumental in having the Canadian Championships play a feature role in the Grandstand at the C.N.E. for two years, a period in which the corps received both prize money and traveling expenses.

John also established a working agreement with the Canadian Bureau for the Advancement of Music in Toronto, for that period. When John was first elected President the CDCA had a deficit of $285.00 which was quickly eliminated, to be replaced by a modest surplus, adequate to the then needs of the Associations. John was also instrumental in 1973 and 1974 in establishing an educational program for present and future instructors and in 1974 these classes were jointly sponsored by CDCA and College in Toronto.

During his term of office The Flying Dutchmen were progressing very nicely. In 1973 and 1974 they were second in the B Class, and were winners of this Championship in 1975. The B class of those days would be comparable to our present A class.

John Robins initiated the negotiations with the Provincial government for financial assistance to establish a full time office to look after the affairs of the drum corps association. At the same time the lottery Wintario got under way and by means of this vehicle, the Provincial Government did agree to assist in the establishment of a full time secretariat. One of the conditions of this grant was that a provincial association separate from the Canadian association, be formed. In 1976 The Ontario Drum Corps Association was founded and incorporated and in that same year an Executive Director was appointed. The member corps also found that individual grants were available to them and many of the corps received money to upgrade equipment.

John Robins' approach to drum and bugle corps had always led to many successful conclusions, and this forte for years was his ability to recruit young people into the activity. He had helped in the formation of other groups, such as Kiwanis Kavaliers, St. Andrews and Ventures, and has been available on a consultant basis for many other corps in Ontario.

He took his responsibilities as President with the same attitude of confidence and at times thought the membership might impeach him, for what some considered his high-handed approach. In fact John used to sing a song, to the tune of "Please Release Me Let Me Go", but his words were "Please Impeach Me Let Me Go. "

The present organization of drum corps and marching bands in this Province owe a great deal to John Robins, and the foresight he displayed in establishing the many firsts that were prevalent in his four years as the leader in the activity.

The words "Drum Corps" and "John Robins" has been synonymous, and his dedication, investment of time, concern and involvement has been appreciated and will be greatly missed.