Category Archives: Alumni

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.

Teenagers get lesson in life on tall ships …. Toronto Star Article The Metro Page May 29, 1989

In a series of articles, People and Places, Maureen Murray wrote a feature on Toronto Brigantine’s program for the Toronto Star, The Metro Page, May 29, 1989.

In 1989, Toronto Brigantine is 27 years old. The story is never changing.  Toronto Brigantine is about bringing kids from all different backgrounds together on the boats, learning to work together as a team – overcoming seasickness and fear of heights – and appreciating the sense of accomplishment when the wind catches the sails and they get to where they are going.  A life transforming experience that TBI alumni remember years later.

Quotes in the article include:

  • David Mather, then TBI Board member and past president, remembers his days of sailing on STV Pathfinder.
  • Richard Birchall, then TBI Executive Director, was also former TBI participant.
  • There are several TBI crew in the pictures, including Julian Hankey.
  • With Skipper Ron Bessey, students from Lakefield College came for afternoon sail, in preparation for an eight day expedition in the Fall.
  • Maurice Smith, TBI’s first captain and captain fr 15 years, remembering the visit of founders Garfield Lorriman and his wife Mary’s vision for the program. And how Francis MacLachlan designed first Pathfinder and then later Playfair.

[Article by Maureen Murray, Photos by Erin Combs. The Newspaper clipping from the collection of TBI Alumnus, Rick Moore].

The 2012 Summer Program is our 50th year of sailing and we welcome another 200 teenagers to join us on the boats this summer. Overcoming their fears, plotting their life’s course, meeting life long friends to be!

The Details of each course in the 2012 Summer Program are provided at the Toronto Brigantine website.

Remembering Toronto Brigantine Inc. – Pamela Juryn

To celebrate Toronto Brigantine’s 50th anniversary we are connecting with members, past and present, to share stories of their time on the Brigs. This is Pamela Juryn’s tale. Ms. Juryn was first involved with TBI in the early 70’s. She is still involved with sailing in British Columbia.

I have always loved Toronto Brigantine and I remember as a young married going out on Pathfinder, before she had masts, to meet the Kingston Brigantine coming down the lake to visit.  They had the crew up on the yards and I remember it being one of those defining moments of my life. I jumped aboard when the ships came together.  On the way back one of the kids taught me how to climb the mast, and I was hooked for life!

I became the “secretary” of Toronto Brigantine in 1974 when they had offices in a brand new Harbourfront Centre and I started Harbourside Sailing School in May 1975. One of the most exciting trips I took on Pathfinder was a cruise on the October 3rd weekend in 1970.  In those days it was thought that girls were not strong enough to become watch officers, so they shipped boys for that job, but you couldn’t have boys and girls sleeping on the same ship without adult chaperons, and I was crazy enough to go as one.

Just before we landed at Niagara-on-the-Lake, we found a 25-foot boat with three people aboard in distress.  Their sail had jammed half way up the mast and their outboard was not operable.  They had been swept across the lake by a strong North wind and were in a mess of waves about to be swept ashore and wrecked.  Pathfinder, under Mike Leigh in command, circled under power and after three tries managed to get a rope to them.  They were able to secure it and we towed them back to Toronto, which took all night.  I did a few hours on “tow watch”.  It was early morning when we deposited them in Toronto Harbour and I remember they yelled to us – “We are SOOO grateful, what can we do for you?”  I yelled – “Tell the newspapers!” and they did.  They stayed grateful for a long time.

That was the most dramatic event I remember, but there was one funny one.  I was not there, but it was recounted with glee by the officers at the time.  This was the time when hippies were the big thing.  I guess it was in the 60’s.  A group of hippies chartered Pathfinder for a weekend and they set sail with the usual officers, but didn’t see why they should do what the officers said.  So they sat around.  I take it they were motoring slowly along the shoreline, and the hippies all sat there, so the skipper told the crew to do the same.  It got to be lunchtime and everyone was just sitting there and continued to do so.  When the hippy leader asked when they were going to get something to eat the skipper replied, “when the mornings work is done”, so after a bit more sitting, they decided he meant it and did the work.  I believe they did finally get some sailing on the second day and the hippies were beginning to get the picture – that work was needed to get what you wanted.  It must have been funny to watch.

When I started my sailing school at Harbourfront I used to hire Brigantine Watch Officers as instructors.  The training they had on the Brigs meant that their seamanship was outstanding, they were usually pretty good at public relations, and I could count on the fact that my boats were safe with them. They usually were a little scruffy, but I inspected them every morning to see that they had shaved, were wearing their uniform (A blue T-shirt) and didn’t smell.  One thing I could count on was how fast they could respond to an emergency.  Most sleeping 17 to 19-year-old boys, you could pull the mattress off the bed and they would keep sleeping on the floor.  A Brigantine Watch Officer, you stood by the bunk, said his name and stepped back quickly as he would be out of bed, have his pants on and be on deck before you could count three. Some of these wonderful people were, Bruce Hunter, Peter Campion and Rick Sullivan.  I know Rick is the captain of a cruise ship now and Bruce was driving the RCYC tender at one point.

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

Jurgen Braunohler article about Reenactactment of Battle of Sackets Harbor, 1975

Years later, after sailing on Playfair in the 1975 reenactment of the 1812 Battle of Sackets Harbor,  Jurgen Braunohler publishes this article, “Battle of Sackets Harbor”, in the Flotilla Newsletter:

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

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” .

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!

TBI in Parry Sound, pretty much an annual event

Updated Jul 28, 2012:

Toronto Brigantine will be back again in Parry Sound on Jul 29, 2012.  Captain Sam Neale on Playfair, sailed into Parry Sound as crew on Pathfinder back in 2004.

Toronto Brigantine has spent most of our almost 50 years in our summer sail training in the Great lakes and up to Georgian Bay.  That has included, in most years, a stop in Parry Sound.

That includes a stop in Parry Sound during the long weekend of July 31, 2010.

Photo posted on Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce facebook page.

This article in CottageCountryNow, by Cameron Ginn, shows Pathfinder and Playfair in Parry Sound on Aug 4, 2010.   Then XO Taeo Tsagakaris has since “graduated” from TBI and went on another tall ship adventure in Europe.  It has a great picture of Shoshana Watson taking a break to read a book. Click here for link to Cottage Country Now Article here.

Toronto Brigantine was in Parry Sound the year before too … and here is a photo by Travis Mealing from an article posted on “Youths get set for sailing adventure”.


And “Look Up, tall ships sailing to the Sound”, Aug 2009 by Evan French in  CottageCountryNow.

Francis Clegg was one of the crew members sailing into Parry Sound in 2007.  See “Teens in the Rigging”, Cottage Country News article Aug 2007. The Boats stop off for crew change in Parry Sound most every year.  Francis Clegg in the photo.  Original article posted here.

And they were in Parry Sound again in 2004 as recorded in “Lose Your Land Leg”, by Sarah Bissonette Aug 14, 2004 in Cottage Country Now.  Melina Giannella, Watch Officer.  Some of the young crew of the Pathfinder are: left, Jamie McNeil, Matthew Auld, Sarah McLean, Sam Neale, Liam Dickson, Eric Hogg and Melina Giannelia. The original article is posted here.–lose-your-land-legs

Toronto Brigantine’s program is the great program that it is thanks to the youth officers that volunteer their time in the winter and spring for training and working on the boats. This last summer alone, the crew volunteered 10,000 hours. Not to mention the full time effort that they put in during the Summer Program with new trainees and perhaps future Toroto Brigantine officers!

Perhaps you know some teenagers that might be getting restless as the hot summer days are upon us … and if they are up for a unique sailing adventure on a tall ship, let them know that we have a few spots still available on this years Summer Program  the schedule is here: ttp://

Fair winds and we look forward to visiting Parry Sound again!

For more information about our program check out our website.