1961 at Fire Station No. 1

The Hamilton Firefighters Senior Drum & Bugle Corps is the inspiration of Lieut. William Mitchell (Ret.) of the City of Hamilton Fire Department.
The first planning meeting was held at Bill's home. The original "six" that put this endeavour together were;

Bill Mitchell, Ray Bertin,Gord Bone, George Ireland, Jim Gemmel, Bill Brown

The Corps became a reality when, in 1961, over sixty active Hamilton firefighters canvassed the downtown city merchants and raised enough money to purchase their first set of instruments. The Corps' first performance was in the Hamilton Remembrance Day Parade on November 12, 1961, the first number ever played was "Long, Long Ago".


The HFFDC is a senior parade and concert Drum Corps with 70 men and women from 19 to 74 years of age. The Corps was formed by members of the Hamilton Fire Department and has been continuously active since 1961. The current membership is made up of experienced musicians from various junior and senior drum corps, military and marching bands, and other musical organizations. Our principle objective is to provide a pleasant social atmosphere for continuing in drum corps activities, without the pressures of an M&M field corps.  Our activities are, primarily, family oriented with several married couples participating and several father/son combinations as members.  HFFDC is a social Drum Corps, that keeps the needs and wishes of the members foremost.
Xmas 1980, Hamilton

The HFFDC has traditionally employed professional music instructors and arrangers to help us in reaching our goals. Through this professional instruction, the Corps has continuously raised its level of proficiency and expertise. In 1965 the Corps began accepting non-firefighters that had previous musical training and experience.  An all-male organization for most of its history, the Corps started accepting female members in 1995. Today the HFFDC numbers over seventy men and women of varying backgrounds. The present membership includes alumni from over forty junior and senior drum corps and military bands from all over Ontario. These bands and drum corps are listed on a separate page, and you will recognize many world class organizations.

HFFDC performed at Hamilton's Steel City Octoberfest from 1973 to 1982

The HFFDC specializes in competition and exhibition parades, concerts and tattoos.  In our thirty-seven years in existence, nearly every other Canadian senior drum corps, has faded away. The HFFDC has persevered and continued to exist through shrewd financial management and strong leadership. The "Firefighters" have represented the City of Hamilton in twenty-five of the last thirty CFL Grey Cup Festival parades. The Corps performs over twenty times every year, travelling coast to coast in Canada and throughout the Northern U.S.A., as ambassadors of the City, the province and of Canada.

  25th. Anniversary of Dundurn Castle, 1992

Leroy, N.Y. 1991 

Some of the best social times were held at "The Grove Motel" in Leroy, NY. The motel has been torn down but, because so much booze was spilled there over the years, the soil is so contaminated, they can't build on it and it remains a vacant lot to this day.

Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial Parade May 1998

Hamilton Scout-Guide Parade, May 1998

GAS '99 Concert, May 1, 1999, Toronto

Photo courtesy Wayne Waddington


The Corps Now:
Rehearsals are held every Thursday evening and prospective members are welcome. The HFFDC is actively recruiting new members, especially people that have previous Drum Corps or other musical experience.

There are no membership fees or dues of any kind.  A summer uniform and winter dress-blue uniform, instruments and other equipment are provided free.   Transportation, when required for longer trips, is provided at no charge,in most cases.

There are very few musical organizations today, especially Drum Corps, that have no dues, membership fees or travel fees levied on their members.  Since its inception, the Firefighters has believed that Drum Corps, a wholly voluntary "hobby", should not tax the financial resources of its members or their families.

With the help of the City of Hamilton, we recently constructed a new $1,000,000 practice facility. This 12,000 square foot building has a Main Hall that is also rented to the public for social occasions such as weddings, etc. This provides us with an ongoing source of revenue to help finance our activities. We also installed, for our own use and the HFFDC Alumni Association, a private "Members Lounge" for the members.  All facilities are fully licenced by the LLBO.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2008 by Peter Mason