Category Archives: About Toronto Brigantine

Help Fill the Boats this Summer

Its our 50th anniversary and we want to fill the boats –  Pathfinder and Playfair – this Summer. Up to 200 trainees can sail this summer. Word of mouth is our best marketing vehicle … and best suits our marketing budget. So we need everyone’s help.

Click here: TBI 2012 Summer Program Flier for a softcopy of a flier for the 2012 Summer Schedule.

Please share the Poster with friends and anywhere that teenagers hangout or where their parents look for ideas for summer camp programs for their teenages.

Share the link to the poster with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Print out some posters and post them in places for teenagers and their parents.

– At school

– The community centre

– The local burger joint

– The library

– The Swimming Pool or skating rink

– Youth Centres

– The Sailing Club

– The Gym

– The Grocery Store Bulletin Board

– Send a note to your local community paper

Or even consider signing up to speak at a youth group, a parents assocation or a service club in your community.  We can provide you with presentation slides and pictures about the program OR can arrange for someone to come and present with you.

Thanks for your help in spreading the word about this amazing program. Feel free to post updates  here or on the TBI’s facebook page about how you have helped promote Toronto Brigantine’s Summer Program and give any additional ideas for others to help us marketing the program this year.

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

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

Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001

Paul Dennis Presents at STI Conference in Norway, 2010

Toronto Brigantine’s President, Paul Dennis, was a speaker at  the International Sail Training and Tall Ships Conference in Stavenger, Norway in 2010. He, together with Ben Martin of , presented on the topic of International Exchanges – Partnerships Around the World.  Ben Martin, himself was an international trainee just finishing an exchange in Canada.

A copy of their presentation is here.

Reenactments over the years

Special events create a great opportunity for trainees to experience other elements of the marine experience. Here are Some examples of naval battle reenactments that Toronto Brigantine has participated in over the years:

1966: Mike Leigh remembers that Playfair participated in Simcoe Reenactment with Bill Michel as Chief Officer of Guns, the Guns from Fort York. Sheraton College Arts College did an attack on Fort George.

1971: Doug Hunter and three other TBI officers participate in four legs of HBC’s Nonsuch‘s journey across Canada.

1975: the boats participated in a reenactment of the Battle of Sackets Harbor, America’s first major engagement during the War of 1812.

2003: It was the launch day of “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” was released on DVD. The location was Toronto Harbour, where Pathfinder and Playfair played out a mock sea battle.  It aired on Discovery Channel’s show Daily Planet.  Gord Laco was technical director on Master and commander: The Far Side of the World and appears in HBO First Look (TV series documentary)in The Making of ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’ (2003)

In 2005, the boats participated in a reenactment at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown NY.

In 2012, the boats are going to participate in the 1812 Squadron and an reenactment of 1812 battles at Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL).  The 1812 Squadron will meet up on the afternoon of July 14 in Toronto, before sailing off the next morning for NOTL.

Playfair with Old Fort Niagara at Youngstown in the background. Pathfinder was there too.

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

tel: 416-596-7117

e-mail : website:

Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001

Reenactment of Battle of Sackets Harbour, 1975

Jurgen Braunohler remembers sailing Playfair in reenactment of Battle of Sackets Harbor, Summer 1975:

The following week I found myself aboard Playfair. While some cruises went eastwards through the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River, all of mine went well out into Lake Ontario. I’m only guessing that as a petty officer in the making, the more challenging stuff was deliberately
being thrown my way.

At any rate, a boisterous, overnight passage took us around Prince Edward County to Cobourg, where we had shore leave. We also lowered the topsail yard to work on it, an involved operation.  [Drawing of Lowering the topsail yard of Playfair, by Jurgen Braunohler]

Then we sailed east in nice weather, through the Murray Canal into the Bay of Quinte and on to Kingston.  [Drawing of View of Playfair, by Jurgen Braunohler]

We dropped anchor in Presqu’ile Bay for the night before motoring through the canal, where we had a game of rigging races: to see who could climb to the fore masthead and slide down again the fastest.

The nice weather followed us through the Bay of Quinte and once more I was busy with the leadline and other things. I generally preoccupied myself with every job I could find. Petty Officer Bruce Hunter called me his leading seaman and the role pretty much stuck to the end. On passing Belleville, we had a little drama in waiting for the bridge to swing open, as we sped before a fairly good breeze. The horn was blown and all hands were ordered to stations. But that bridge opened in the nick of time, with traffic backed up in both directions. Sightseers lined the rails, snapping pictures as we stormed through, our lower yard arms just clearing the bridge girders.

We sailed all night to Kingston and on our departure from there, headed through fleets of dinghies preparing for the sailing Olympics the following year. Boisterous conditions greeted our beat out into Lake Ontario, to Main Duck Island, were we anchored for the night.

Departure came very early the next morning, along with an unusually thorough clean-up on deck, as we headed for Sackets Harbor, New York. Pathfinder could be seen scudding along to weather, off our starboard quarter, with Galloo Island in the distance. Both ships sailed into Sackets Harbor, where we re-enacted the War of 1812 Battle of Sackets Harbor, the first major naval engagement of that conflict. We had very little wind for this and when it died altogether, had to motor along slowly and just look like we were sailing. Then Playfair’s engine quit, so we wound up being towed by Pathfinder.

Aside from that, the effects of the re-enactment were startlingly realistic. First of all, the booming cannon fire from shore, from several guns. Even though none of it was real, it felt just slightly disconcerting having cannon aimed at one’s ship. Groups of locals armed with muskets crowded our decks and returned fire. The noise notwithstanding, the concussions or shockwaves that assaulted our ears caused enough pain that we shoved wads of cotton in our ears. Then the drifting battle smoke nearly obscured the large spectator fleet that surrounded us. But I could still just make out fire control parties on shore stamping small grass fires.

Somewhere, someone must have been shooting off firecrackers, for the air was full of shrieks and whistles. It certainly scared the fish, for a large one jumped right out of the water and landed with a colossal splash almost right next to me, as if it was a cannon ball! Up to this point we had not been doing very much, just handling sails as needed. That was about to change.

In 1812, the British squadron from Kingston (which we represented) was repulsed by American defences. Those included a battery of cannons on shore, as well as the brig Oneida, using it’s own broadside battery from a moored position. When the British, led by HMS Royal George, suffered damage, they retreated. Therefore, it was our job to look like we had lost. To that end a small fire was
lit in a metal bucket on Pathfinder’s deck, to send up some smoke to show we were beaten. But that fire got a little out of control and melted the bucket. Soon, officers prancing around with fake swords were now dashing about with fire extinguishers. Our own officers soon yelled at us and now we chanted “Heave! Heave!” in unison as we hauled on the towline to come alongside and render assistance.
But before we got there, someone on Pathfinder grabbed an oar from a dory and used it to fling the bucket overboard.

After a long shore leave, during which the entire town turned out to celebrate and we were the guests of honour, we got underway just before midnight. Although we could have sailed, time was of the essence to get back to Waupoos on time, so we motored. With our engine still broken, that meant that Pathfinder towed us all the way home. It was a long night watch from 12 to 4, with little to do, but not free of incident. While crossing the shipping lanes in foggy conditions, I had to give a yell when a large freighter crossed our path at high speed, requiring evasive action. Aside from my nerves, all was good. I was also not tired anymore.

[Years later, Jurgen writes about  the “Battle of Sackets Harbor” for the Flotilla Newsletter. The article is provided here: ]

Pictures from Bruce Macdonald, Captain Trident, 1980

In 1980, Bruce Macdonald was Captain of Trident with XO Phil Mansell and ward room officers Mike Blair,  Paul Hickey.

Bruce provided these pictures (they have been stored in dark and dingy places and lucky to see the light!):

Stories from Jurgen Braunohler, 1973-1975

Jurgen Braunohler was a Toronto Brigantine  alumnus from 1975 to 1977.

Jurgen describes how it was through a friend Ken Elliot that he first learned about Toronto Brigantine program.   It was Ken that taught Jurgen how to sail, has been a profound influence on his life and they are still friends today. Ken also is editor and Jurgen now writes for the newsletter Flotilla for Toronto’s Outer Harbour Centreboard Club.

Ken Elliott took some photos when he sailed on the boats, first on Pathfinder in 1965 and then later on the Atlantic passage down to OpSail76.  Click here to see some of the photos from these trips.

TBI Ken Elliotts Photos

In these three years with theTBI program, Jurgen started his training on Trident, as did most of the trainees at that time. From there he graduated to crew on Pathfinder, and finally he helped with the Playfair build.

Click here to see what Jurgen has been up to since he left Toronto Brigantine’s.  TBI Jurgen Braunohler Profile

At that time, training at Toronto Brigantine began with shore training at Waupoos Island. Click here Jurgen’s pictures and memories of Waupoos Island

Jurgen Braunohler wrote of his first sail on STV Trident, in his article “Cutter Trident” Published in Flotilla, the newsletter for OHCC, April 2008, Page 5.

This is the story that Jurgen wrote about his last summer with Toronto Brigantine in 1975, in Petty Officer training.  “Final Brig Saga”, published in Flotilla, April 2006.  [Provided by Jurgen Braunohler, 2011]

In 1975, Jurgen sailed on Playfair and participated in the Reenactment of Sackets Harbor that year.

So many of Jurgen’s  TBI Friends went to to OpSail76 in New York City. That summer while he stayed home to focus on school work and signed up as racing crew on a 24 foot Shark Class Sloop at National Yacht Club.

Jurgen has an interest in and writes about maritime history. He also illustrates most of his stories.

While the replica Nonsuch’s North American Journey in 1971 was just a few years before Jurgen joined up with Toronto Brigantine’s, he certainly heard the stories. Jurgen wrote an article about the memoriable event in “The Nonsuch Ketch” in Flotilla, News and Views from the Outer Harbour Centreboard Club, Oct 2008, page 3.

For other articles by Jurgen, see:   Flotilla archives are posted under “About Us” .

Pathfinder and Playfair in Navy Festival of 1812 in July 2012 at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake will be the scene of the Navy Festival of 1812 . It is going to be a spectacular event with a large ground battle in addition to the battle at sea with the 1812 Squadron including vessels Pathfinder, Playfair, St. Lawrence II, Faire Jeanne, La Revenante and Caledonian. Toronto Brigantine’s own Captain Neale has been named Vice Commodore of the Squadron.

The Caledonian, will act the role of a small picket schooner ahead of the Squadron and all the ships will be flying the “1812 Colors”.  Here is a picture of Caledonian under the 1812 colours.

The crew of the 1812 Squadron will be dressed in period costume like the ones worn by the navel re-enactors shown here [picture to follow].

This squadron of traditional sailing vessels, with crews in 1812-era dress, will all rendezvous at Toronto on July 13, for their “Conference of Captains” before setting sail for Niagara on the Lake the next morning.  There they will be part of a major commemoration of the role of sailors in the War of 1812.

This isn’t the first time that Toronto Brigantine has participated in naval reenactments. One other such event was STV Pathfinder and TS Playfair at re-enactment at Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown NY

TS Playfair with Old Fort Niagara at Youngstown in the background. Pathfinder was there too.

We look forward to the 1812 Events this summer, here in Toronto and then in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Sailors Wanted. Teenagers can sign up for crew for the NOTL 1812 event in Course 2 of 2012 Summer Program or choice from other courses around the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay later in the summer.  Enlist today!

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

tel: 416-596-7117

e-mail : website:

Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001

HELP Toronto Brigantine win $150,000 in the AVIVA Community Fund IDEA Contest. Give us your 15 votes between Oct 24 and Nov 9

HELP Toronto Brigantine win $150,000 in
the AVIVA Community Fund IDEA Contest.

Give us your 15 votes between Oct 24 and  Nov 9th.

Give us all your VOTES!

To all TBI Alumni, Friends and Supporters.

Please help Toronto Brigantine win $150,000 to upgrade Pathfinder this winter. Pathfinder is getting ready for her 4 year inspection and while we are in dry dock we want to do a bunch of work on her. She is approaching 50 years old if you can believe it.

Pathfinder, Northern Georgian Bay. Photo by David Bannister (used by permission of David Bannister).

Toronto Brigantine has a really good chance of winning the AVIVA Community Fund IDEA program – in Round 1 we got over 700 votes in just 5 days. For Round 2 we anticipate that we will need to get 400 votes a day for the voting period Oct 24 to Nov 9.

The teenagers that go through Toronto Brigantine’s tall ship based youth sail training program benefit from great life skills – and the impact of their experiences are remembered by alumni 50 years later! There have been 20,000 kids going through the program over the last 50 years.

Please help Toronto Brigantine by voting for our idea today and tomorrow! and give us all your 15 VOTES. Voting for Round 2 starts Oct 24 and ends Nov 9.

If we are in the top 10 ideas in our Category in Round 2, we get the chance to be bumped up to the semi finals. Otherwise, we will keep getting votes in Round 3!

Help us Spread the Word.

Please help us spread the word about our entry in the AVIVA Community Fund IDEA in four ways:

(1) If you are a “tweeter on Twitter” you can add our hash tag [#acf12378] to your tweets and ask your followers to vote for our idea

(2) share with your networks on Facebook and Linkedin and any other social media groups that you belong to.

(3) Vote often yourself.  15 times each Round. Round 2 is from Oct 24 to Nov 9. Round 3 is

(4) Help us find some AVIVA Brokers to support our idea! We welcome the brokers to come down and check out the boats now docked at the Bottom of Spadina and Queens Quay.

With the votes from yourself and your friends, Toronto Brigantine can win this competition and generate significant funds towards refitting the Pathfinder as she approaches her 50th Birthday.

The timelines for the Contest.

Oct 3 to Oct 19: Round 1 Voting

We finished in 91st place with 788 votes in only 5 days because we started late! And that tells us, with more time, we have a lot of great support to get enough votes in Round 2 to get our idea bumped up to the semi-finals in Round 2 – and we are targeting that we  will need about 5,000 votes or more – or 400 votes per day – depending on our competition in Round 2.

Oct 24 (Monday) to Nov 9 (Wednesday) Round 2 voting will begins

Everyone in Round 2 is given 15 votes to be used towards the voting, they can vote once per day per idea, so we hope that our supporters will use all their 15 votes on our IDEA.

At the end of Round 2 the top 10 from our funding category will again be skimmed off, and the remaining ideas will move onto Round 3

If we haven’t moved to the semi-finals after Round 2, we will still need approximately 400 votes per day to reach the top 10 by the end on
Round 3

Nov 14 (Monday) to Nov 30 (Wed) Round 3 voting will begins
Dec 1 (Thurs) to Dec 4 (Sunday): No voting.
At the end of Round 3 the top 10 from our funding category will advance and join the other 20 semi-finalists;
Between December 1 and December 4 the 30 semi-finalists in our funding category are required to “re-vamp” their submission (mandatory)

Dec 5  (Monday) to Dec 16  (Friday): Semi-Final voting begins
to determine the 10 finalists from our funding category (this entire process has been occurring simultaneously for each of the other funding categories)

Dec 20 to Jan 24: judging will take place to rank the 10 finalists;

Jan 25: the winners will be announced and hopefully we will be celebrating our success!

 We look forward to Fair Winds for 50 more years!

Vote today and give us all your Votes!

Toronto Brigantine Inc
413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7
tel: 416-596-7117 e-mail : website:
Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924

Toronto Brigantine participating in Montreal Tall Ship Festival Sep 2011

One of the first times Pathfinder went to Montreal was for Expo 67!  And we are back again this year.

Toronto Brigantine is excited to be invited to participate in the Montreal Tall Ship Festival. This is the second second edition of Tall Ships on the Quays – and the first time that we are joining in. We were participating  in the Tall Ships on the Quays event with six other tall ships including:  the Niagara, the  Pride of Baltimore II, the Lynx, the Challenge, the Pathfinder and the St-Lawrence II.

Pathfinder sailed part way from from Toronto to Montreal with Challenge.  Here is a photo on the St Lawrence river.!/photo.php?fbid=10150373148371163&set=a.10150103041561163.315496.53552951162&type=1&theater

Pathfinder sailing out of Kingston.   Maurice Smith said he was going to be out of town, so not sure whether the crew saw him on this trip or not.!/photo.php?fbid=10150373142531163&set=a.10150103041561163.315496.53552951162&type=1&theater

Here is Pathfinder arriving in Montreal …

Pathfinder with the Biosphere in the background

Perhaps we will see you on the way home! and when the crew gets home, hopefully we will have some pictures and stories to share of our days in Montreal.

If you are out this way this summer, there are loads of events upcoming up as we approach our 50th Anniversary and may create opportunities for old TBI friends to reconnect.
  • Oct 5, 2011: Donor Appreciation Sail (5:30 to 9pm )
  • Sep/Oct – Open sails will be announced for new or experienced sailors of all ages (min. age 13)
  • Feb 25, 2012 – our next Annual Pirates Ball
  • Nov 10 2012 Big Bash to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Keel Laying for STV Pathfinder
  • 2013 Opsail in 2013 on the Great Lakes as part of the War of 1812 Centennial (TBI  went to the Opsail76 in New York).
Toronto Brigantine Inc
413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7
tel: 416-596-7117 e-mail : website:
Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924

James McConnell Visits with TBI, Sept 2011

Well, how lucky we were this  September 2011 weekend.

The Boats had just returned to Toronto from another great Summer Program on Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes between here and there. And  Pathfinder is just about to set sail for Montreal, via Kingston, where she will  be participating in the Tall Ships on the Quays 2011  festival there on September 7.

And in between the busy fall schedule, the brigs were fortunate to have a visit  from James McConnell.  He is in Toronto for a short visit, on his way from the east coast to the west coast and world ports far and wide from there.

And how lucky still — that Sterling Speed was  on hand at the boats — to give James a bit of a tour.

James McConnell (then known as Fred) sailed with Toronto Brigantine right from our early days – that is back to 1962!

He started as XO on Pathfinder with Captain Maurice Smith and the other officers of the day, Frank Smith, Paul Dzuban, Art Cooke and Keith Leewis.  He was one of the first to sail on Pathfinder even before she was fully rigged. James  was involved with the activities of Pathfinder’s first arrival in Toronto in 1963.

In 1968, James (then Fred) was promoted and became the first skipper of STV Trident II, a 37 foot  steel hulled Gaff Cutter that was used for basic training before the kids “graduated” to Pathfinder.

In 1973, James was also one of the first to sail on Playfair. Not to mention that James was the project manager for the build of Playfair starting in 1972 and also her first Captain – through to 1974 – with Paul Clarke as his XO then.

James has gone through his old photos and uploaded a bunch of old TBI photos, mostly black and  white, scanned from negatives from the 60’s, and 70’s. There are few shots of Maurice and the early wardroom personalities  in non-brig shots as well.  They include pics of Waupoos Island, the ‘P’ boats and Trident as    well as St. Lawrence II. And there are shots of the Playfair build.

And jumping forward to present day: Here is James on Pathfinder this weekend – September 2011, almost 50 years since Toronto Brigantine’s youth sail training organizations beginnings.

Here is James back at the helm of Playfair on his visit this weekend (okay so the boat is docked and the wheel is stored away but you can see how comfortable James is in the spot!

Like many of our TBI program alumni, he has many tall tales to share of his sailing experiences on the brigs. It has to have been the third time that I heard how resourceful  our crew can be – because James too, felled a tree with a pocket knife and made a replacement  mast after  the other one broke!  We look forward to hearing more stories and getting some of the pictures that he has saved from his brigantine adventures back then.

The check out the schedule of events of when other TBI alumni might be gathering click here:

or you might even want to book a charter in our shoulder seasons and create an alumni event of your own!