Category Archives: About Toronto Brigantine

The Power of Wind Changes Lives of Youth … VOTE Today to Help TBI win $75,000

VOTE TODAY AND EVERY DAY during the campaign period. Round 1 ends Oct 15, 2012 Send emails, post Facebook messages, spread the word.

Distribute Posters to promote the voting period!

VOTE today to help us win $75,000 towards our Boats Maintenance. $75,000 is the equivalent of almost 75 youth sailing with us for two weeks next summer!

Its Toronto Brigantine’s 50th Anniversary — see you at the Party Weekend Nov 9, 10, 11

We have come along way since the laying of the keel of Pathfinder on November 10th, 1962.

Come and celebrate our successes and reconnect with your sail mates, on November 9th, 10th and 11th weekend, 2012.

Thanks Algoma for your support

Toronto Brigantine is fortunate to have the support of Algoma and other organizations in the marine industry.

Here is an article from the Bear Facts, Algoma Central Corporation Newsletter, Winter 2009.  TBI Algoma newsletter Dec-09

The senior youth officers in the program put in 180 hours of volunteer time over the winter working on the boats and upgrading their training.  They have to qualify for many certifications throughout the program, and by their final year in the program they are ableto attain Transport Canada licences.   This commitment has created a gateway to careers in the marine industry for many of the TBI Alumni.

Then 2nd Engineer, Eric Wilson, Tim S Doot says “We developed leadership skills and learned to work as a team. Being part of the Brigantine helped me decide that I was interested in a career at sea.”

Captain Seann O’Donoughue, then Captain Algoisle, said “I enjoyed it as a youth and still have fond memories of the ships and the sailing. I joined TBI starting at the age of 16 and participated for four years. It spurned my interest in ships and the sea and steered me toward a marine career”

Algoma gives a $2,000 grant each year to support Toronto Brigantine’s training requirements. And they also sponsor a $500 scholarship to the most promising TBI youth officer that chooses to pursue post secondary marine training at a recognized marine institution.

Thanks Algoma.

Toronto Brigantine:

Toronto Brigantine Now Hiring for Program Coordinator (Aug 2012)

Some of you may have already heard, but after over two years with Toronto Brigantine, Laurie Di Vincenzo has decided to leave Toronto Brigantine to explore other career opportunities. Laurie has been the primary contact with crew, trainees and their parents as they register for their Winter or Summer Programming. She has introduced improvements in the food stocking of the boats, has created some great new marketing materials (the SAILORS WANTED Postcards!)  and managed the redesign of Toronto Brigantine’s website … just to name a few of her many significant contrbiutions.

So … we have some “big shoes” to fill. The Program Coordinator role has been posted.

Most of the work will be performed in an office environment working out of the Toronto Brigantine program offce at Spadina and Queen, unless we find a new Brig House that will allow us to combine the workship with the office. From time to time the program coordinator may be required to spent time at the ships or other locations to support fundraising and community events, coordinate program activities (corporate sailing events), etc.

It will be a great time to be at Toronto Brigantine … in November 2012 we are celebrating the 50th anniversary Kick Off Bash, in Jun 2013 we will be participating in a tall ship festival as part of Redpath Waterfront Festival Toronto, which is the first stop of the 2013 Great Lakes United Tall Ships Festival … and continuing the efforts of the Marketing Committee to fill the boats for our 2013 – 50th anniversary sailing season.

The detailed job description is posted here.

Toronto Brigantine Program Coordinator Job Description Updated July 2012

Date Approved:         July 23, 2012

Position Location:     Toronto, Ontario

Reporting to:                         President

Closing Date:             August 25th, 2012

Start Date:                 October 1st, 2012

Interested applicants may respond by email to  Please include a resume and cover letter. Only candidates that meet our specified qualifications will be contacted for an interview.

We look forward to hearing from you …

TBI Career Nights Continue – Next One April 3rd

Career nights are being organized by Mr Mike Ellis, Toronto Brigantine Board Member and Parent Liaison.  The events are for current winter program participants and their parents and mentors.

The first career night was in December 1, 2011. Our speakers included Captain Rick Sullivan and Mr Maurice Smith.

Captain Rick Sullivan, TBI alumnus from 1972 through 1976. He is now Captain with Royal Carribean. He came to speak to us between ports of call. He described his career as a Master on international cruise ships. He described the hundreds of different professional positions that are required to manage a cruise ship.

Stepping in for Sam McLean, was  Mr Maurice Smith. Mr Smith was Pathfinder’s first Captain. He went on to be curator and founding member of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.  He is a writer and recognized expert in Maritime heritage. He has a passion for youth and their potential, you can hear it in the stories from the many trainees and Officers that worked under him during his time at Toronto Brigantine, including Captain Rick Sullivan.

And it was a full house!

The  2nd Toronto Brigantine Career Night, 7:00 PM on Tuesday,  April 3rd at the Brig’s Offices at 215 Spadina Avenue.

Our scheduled guests this time are Mr. Marc Isaacs, a Toronto-based Marine Lawyer and new friend of the programme and Mr. Doug Galvin, a long-time alumnus and former Ship’s Master and current member of the TBI Board of Directors. 

Mr. Isaacs will be speaking to us on the path one would need to follow to pursue a career in law and then showing us some interesting marine-based cases he has worked on over the years.

Mr. Galvin will discuss his career on the Great Lakes and the Eastern Seaboard and how that experience has come in handy in his second career as a manager at a GTA shipping Company. 

Both Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Galvin will be answering questions at the end of their presentations.

I am sure that the 2nd will be as helpful as the 1st Career night in helping the kids and their parents explore career opportunities and the paths to get there. 

Thanks to Mike for organizing and the speakers for sharing your time and experiences. 

If any TBI alumni are interested in coming to speak at other Career Nights that are planned for 2012, please contact Mike Ellis at or contact the Toronto Brigantine office.

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

tel: 416-596-7117 e-mail : website:

Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001



We making a new mast

Toronto Brigantine’s Winter Crew have been hard at work.  One of the most significant projects this winter is the making of a new mast.

The making of the masts starts with planks of douglas fir.  These planks are glued together to make up the length of a wood that is long enough for the mast. On the Pathfinder, that would be 42 feet!

It takes up to 5 days for the glued wood to set. Once dry, the next phase of the process starts. That is shaping the wood into a round mast to the exact specifications needed.

Each year, all the masts and spars are taken off the boat and stored over the winter. They are sanded and re-varnished each winter, before being put back on the boats in the Spring.

The re-rigging of Playfair and Pathfinder , is scheduled for the 3rd week of April, … provided  all the work stays on schedule. [Check out the pictures from last years re-rigging on the Toronto Brigantine facebook page here]

The work is being done at the Brig House at Marine Quay West. Saturdays are the busiest workdays. And you can often see the crew coming out for lunch. Lunch is provided by volunteers and parents on most weekends. There often aren’t any leftovers!

So stop by for a visit to see the work being done … or sign up with the Captains to help out some.  There is lots of work to be done still.  All the woodwork is being sanded and getting ready for varnishing. The painting will start soon.  On Playfair, we are removing the foredeck and repairing  taffrails. On Pathfinder, in addition to replacing the mainmast the work continues on the deck work.

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

tel: 416-596-7117 e-mail : website:

Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001

Toronto Brigantine Inc. Receives Generous Donation from Natural Marine

Natural Marine has again donated a seasons supply of Natural Marine Eco Boat Care products to the Brigs, valued at $1,000.

Bill Milne, presented this gift at Toronto Brigantine’s (TBI) Annual Pirate Ball on February 25, 2012 at the Steam Whistle Roundhouse. Bill Milne, a long time supporter of Toronto Brigantine’s youth sail training program, will be consulting  TBI’s crew to ensure that the products are used correctly. This will help keep Playfair and Pathfinder cleaner, safer and healthier for the almost 200 teenagers that will sail the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay this summer.

Natural Marine, a Canadian company in the marine business for over 40 years, has developed these Eco-rated products specifically for boating and are considered environmental pioneers. For more information about Natural Marine products, please visit or contact Bill Milne at

Lots of Work being done at the Boats This weekend, Mar 17-18, 2012

Who: Toronto Brigantine Inc. (TBI)
What: Kids working on the tall ships
Where: Marina Quay West on the Toronto Waterfront beside the Music Garden between Bathurst and Spadina
When: Saturday, March 17th & Sunday, March 18th at 12:00pm

It’s the perfect weekend to be down by the water! Come see the youth Officers and Trainees of Toronto Brigantine work on the boats this weekend. The ships, Playfair and Pathfinder, are at West Marina Quay on the Waterfront just beside the Music Garden between Bathurst and Spadina.

The youth in the TBI program volunteer over 10,000 hours over the winter months on these boats. This winter they are working on building a new mast for the tall ship, among other wood working projects. The schedules vary, but when the kids work on the weekends, they do gather at noon since volunteers bring lunch for them each day during the school breaks and weekends. Come meet the kids and volunteers and get a feel for what it takes to sail and maintain a traditional tall ship!

These ships are being prepared for a summer of sailing across the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay. SAILORS WANTED for youth ages 13 to 18 –

Enjoy the weekend!

The Gypsy of the Waterfront – TBI’s Brig House

The Brig House

Toronto Brigantine has operated our “Brig House” out of the Toronto Waterfront for 50 years. The Brig House is so important to Toronto Brigantine’s program because that is where our Officers and other volunteers do the maintenance work on the boats and meet up for their training programs.  The Brig House is the work shop and home to the officers during the winter program training and activities. It is filled to over flowing during the Winter for storage of the riggings.  But during the Summer the boats are out and about the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay with new trainees – leaving the Brig House a bit deserted!

Toronto Brigantine has been known as the Gypsy of the waterfront, we have “camped” in so many sites along the waterfront.

In 1962, our brig house was on Pier 6.  It was housed in the shed at Pier 6 at the foot of York Street. At that time, the remains of the commercial piers were still lined along the shore, and long wooden shed ran the length of the pier. The RCYC launch sailed from their City Station at the head of the slip, with the Pathfinder moored on the adjacent wall.   From there, Pathfinder, had to navigate with skill around the Kwasind and the Hiawatha.

For a while, Haida was our neighbour as shown in this picture of Pier 6 on Oct 19, 1965.  You can see Pathfinder in front of Haida. And in the background, you see TD Centre being built and you can still see the Royal York.

[PC 14/8661 “York Street Slip, Destroyer HMCS Haida in the foreground, at its bow the Toronto Brigantine Inc vessel, Pathfinder.” October 19, 1965. Photograph provided by the Toronto Port Authority Archives.]

Then until 1968, Brigantine House moved to 40 Stadium Road, courtesy of Toronto Harbour Commission.  That was at a site in between the original National Yacht Club and Alexandra Yacht Club, right near the J.J Taylor Boatworks.  From there, the brigs had to manage sailing in and out of the NYC basin.  [There is an aerial view of our space in the Toronto Port Authority Archives].

An OPEN SHIP was hosted on Sunday Jun 22, 1969 with Pathfinder and Trident with an art show by Claus Heinecke. [Invitation provided by William Mewes, Oct 28, 2012]

Toronto Brigantine operated out of Toronto Harbour’s Pier 5 until the mid 1970s.    We moved from there when the Amsterdam Bridge was built across at Simcoe Street Slip from York Quay to Rees Street Slip. [The Amsterdam Bridge commemorates the twinning of Toronto and Amsterdam in 1974. Thre is also a bridge that crosses the Amstel river in Amsterdam that was renamed Torontobrug.]

In 1974, the Harbourfront Centre was built and we moved the Brig House there, and the room is still called the Brigantine Room there. Pam Juryn, was Board Secretary at the time, remembers moving in there.

Then we were on Pier 4 for a time … where Pier 4 Restaurant is now.

In 1980, we moved from where Pier 4 to the  Maple Leaf Mills on the eastern portion of Maple Leaf Quay.

Maple Leaf Mills Silos   were demolished in  1983, the demolition took a year, and it was late summer 1982, that the Brig House temporarily located to an old house on Queens Quay which, I think was the yellow “house”  in the picture above which was the  Maple Leaf Mills corporate offices.   In 1983, there was a fire in the Brig House.

In 1984, the Brig House was erected on Maple Leaf Quay. The “house” was in fact two trailers, with a veranda roof in between to create additional storage space.   Here are some pictures.  For a time we had our offices at 283 Queen’s Quay West.

[Shown here: Jim Barry, Paul Klaassen, Mike Burns and Kati Drdla at the Brig House, 1984. Picture provided by Chris Dowson, TBI alumnus.]

In 2004, we were moved out (or were kicked out yet again) of Maple Leaf Quay. That was when HTO the “urban beach park” was being built. Construction of the beach started in 2004 and the beach was opened in 2007.

And that was when, in 2004, that TBI’s Brig House relocated to our current “temporary” home in parking lot at Marina Quay West.  Many volunteers helped to contruct this new Brig House including John Vanderkop, parent of a TBI alumnus. And it was Rona that donated much of the construction materials. We rent this location from the Harbourfront Centre.

In some ways it is an ideal location in that we have all the space that we need during the Winter, when car traffic to the waterfront is light and it is right by the dock space for easy access to the boats.

And no matter where the Brig House is along the waterfront,  the Toronto Harbourfront is our home and has been for 50 years.  The boats have been witness to the changing skyline of Toronto … witnessing the construction of the TD Tower, then the CN Tower and all the condos! And soon we will see the Trump Tower sprouting out from behind all the other buildings and the  Royal York Hotel doesn’t make it into the skyline much anymore.

[Photo by Andrew Rivett]

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

tel: 416-596-7117 e-mail : website:

Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001

TBI Officers visit the James Norris, Mar 2011

On Mar 27, 2011, Toronto Brigantine Officers went on a tour of the Historic James Norris while she is docked in Toronto Harbour for the winter.

Here are some pictures from that trip, but there are more on TBI’s Facebook Page.

Several of the TBI Alumni from the 2011 Officer crew, have gone on to Marine colleges. They are following the footsteps of other TBI officers who have gone on to have successful careers in Marine Industry.  Several of these TBI Alumni have even sailed on the James Norris.

  • The James Norris was  TBI Alumnus Bart Greer’s (1987-1992)  first ship after he graduated from Georgian College’s Marine program.
  • Doug Galvin (TBI 1973-1977, 2011) sailed on James Norris after her conversion to a self unloader.
  • And then there is the James Norris’s Captain Peter Klaassen who was TBI Alumnus from 1979-1983.

Here is an article about the James Norris from Northumberland Today, “Welcome Aboard”, Fall 2010, where Captain Peter Klaassen gives a day-in-the-life view about James Norris.  In the article, Klaassen says he first got a taste of marine life when he was aboard the Pathfinder for five years starting in 1979. “The brigantines that opened my eyes to life on the water”, he says.

The tour of the James Norris wasn’t the first tour of “big ships” taken by the Toronto Brigantine Officers.

Toronto Brigantine appreciates the support of the Marine Industry and we look forward to including them in the Celebration of our 50th Anniversary on Nov 10, 2012.

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

tel: 416-596-7117 e-mail :


Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001