The concept of Toronto Brigantine and our youth sail training program started with an “idea” almost 50 years ago – Hey its our 50th anniversary already!
The founding of Toronto Brigantine was actually inspired by a tall ships movie. It was in 1960, a Toronto Businessman, J Garfield Lorriman and his wife Mary, were impressed by a film about the great Norwegian sail training ship Christian Radich featured in the movie, Windjammer. And after seeing that movie, the dream to build a youth sail training ship for Toronto was born. Christian Radich is 72 metres long versus the Pathfinder and Playfair that are 77 feet long – but hey almost the same.
It was two years later before the organization was incorporated. Toronto Brigantine was incorporated in May 1962. Here is two newspaper articles one in the Toronto Daily Star (page 9) and the other in the Globe and Mail (page 13, with headline on page 1) on Aug 1, 1962. The Toronto Daily Star article describes Pathfinder as “a 90-foot brigantine with two masts and a square rig … as a training ship for young boys”.
The articles describe how Toronto Briganine was founded by a “group of Toronto maritime enthusiasts. Others in the group included “several businessmen, three doctors, and a writer for a maritime magazine.” in the Toronto Star and in The Globe, “three ostetricians (Dr Rogers included), several businessmen Mr Lorriman included), an employee of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp that would be Maurice Smith) and a public relations woman”. This included Dr Joslyn W Rogers Jr, the lawyer Robert Hendy who was a former senior naval officer in Toronto area. The fundraising was organized by James Ward Cotton Advertising Ltd, and Robert R Rowe as the contact person for the campaign to raise the initial $120,000.
Francis MacLachlan, who designed first the SLII and the TBI brigantines, was then Professor at Queen’s University and each summer master of the SSII.
It was a year after that before the STV Pathfinder was launched.
This is an article in Toronto Daily Star about the launching of Pathfinder on Monday May 6, 1963 in Kingston.
This article in the Globe and Mail describes how Pathfinder, after taking 6 months to build at Kingston Shipyards, was launched May 6 and had engine trials on May 28. The two masts were stepped on May 31. Pathfinder, crewed by sea cadets, came to Toronto under engine power and docked in Toronto at 2 pm on June 3, 1963 at the T Eaton Dock at the foot of Spadina Ave. They were welcomed by 10 motor yachts and Rule Britannia being played by the Vanguard sea cadets.
Pathfinder was named after Mr Stuart B Playfair’s yacht Pathfinder. Mr Stuart was Mrs Lorriman’s father and it was Mr Playfair that provided the significant funding needed to build the tall ship. Mr Playfair had lent the first yacht Pathfinder to the navy during WWII, but by the time she was returned the boat wasn’t in good shape for continued use.
[In 2010, Rhys Weed, a Toronto Brigantine Captain, found this picture of the Playfair’s yacht the Pathfinder. It was in a document called Gateway to Manitoulin, The Port of Little Current, by A.M. McGillivray.