Category Archives: History of Toronto Brigantine

PLAYFAIR will launched in May 1973 – she is 40 years young

Paul Clarke’s “TBI HISTORY, Toronto Brigantine Incorporated, May 1962 to May 1980” records some of the early days of PLAYFAIR.

In 1972 Toronto Brigantine entered a new era. Due to the success of the program up to that time, and because each summer there were more applicants than could be given a berth, it was decided by the Board of Directors to build a second brigantine for the organization.  Once again the services of Francis MacLauchlan were secured to design the new vessel. His drawings revealed the new vessel to be once again similar to her two sister-ships, ST LAWRENCE II and PATHFINDER.  Maintaining the same (brigantine) rig, the hull was made slightly longer, with a fuller stern and more freeboard, resulting in a vessel of slightly higher displacement (45 tons).  Just as the Directors had done 10 years ago, an extended fund raising campaign was set in motion to try and raise the necessarily money to support the building and operation of the new vessel.

Named the Training Ship PLAYFAIR, she had the advantage of 20 years of brigantine sailing incorporated into her design.

Mr Jack Jones, then the Chairman of the Board of Directors was responsible for the over-all project, and was joined by Mr Fred McConnell. Fred McConnell had been Maurice Smith’s executive officer in the first wardrooms in the early year, and was now back with the official title of Project Manager.  During the construction period, most of his time was spent at Canadian Dredge and Dock Co., Ltd, in Kingston, where PLAYFAIR was built.

 TBI Playfair James McConnell and Francis McLaughlin working
 That is Francis McLaughlin and James McConnell up there working on Playfair, c 1973. Clipping provided by Paul Clarke.

PLAYFAIR was launched in Kingston near the end of May 1973.

 Playfairs first dip in the water Photo by James McConnell

Playfair launch a team effort

 Playfairs launching ceremony with the Jones

Playfairs climb to the launching ceremony

 Playfair’s first dip in the water. As always, everything with the boats takes huge team efforts.  Photo by James McConnell  Playfair’s Launching ceremony. And Mrs Jones’s commitment to the program and the ceremony demonstrated by the climb to get up to the plaform.  Photo by James McConnell

[Click here for more photos of that day]

On Wednesday, Jun 27, 1973, she was moved to a temporary berth in front of the city hall in Kingston, in preparation for her official naming cemetery. There was quite a stir in the air, because for months this day had been planned between the Board of Directors and officials of Buckingham Palace.  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived at 4:30 pm and with PATHFINDER’s crew respectfully manning the yards astern, the proud new brigantine’s name boards were revealed following the Queen’s proclamation. That act made PLAYFAIR the first Canadian Vessel ever to be named by a reigning monarch in the nation’s history.

 TBI Invitation to STV Playfair Naming by Queen Elizabeth  TBI Queen Elizabeth at Naming Ceremony 1973
 Invite Provided by Paul Clarke. And more photos from Paul Clarke posted on our Facebook Page here.  Photo provided by Paul Clarke. There is a color version provided by Doug Jones here.

[Click here for photos of that day: ]

PLAYFAIR was received in a similar condition to the way PATHFINDER was when she was launched. The hull and deck were completed, the interior steel transverse bulkheads were in place, the engine and generator had been installed and much of the electronic wiring was in place. Just as PATHFINDER had been done 10 years before, PLAYFAIR motored the length of Lake Ontario to Toronto where she came alongside at her new slip at Pier 5. As an index of rising costs of materials and labour, PLAYFAIR would cost approximately $230,000 by the time she was completed the following summer.

Under the tireless efforts of Fred McConnell, PLAYFAIR was made ready for sea in record time, and on July 30, 1974 PLAYFAIR was officially commissioned.

Her maiden voyage took her down to the beautiful short training base on Waupoos Island. A week later, an all-girl crew was signed aboard in what was the first regular girl’s training cruise.

And thus began, 40 years of tall ship sail training. Sharing the Great Lakes with PATHFINDER and ST LAWRENCE II and the many other tall ships that sail the Great Lakes.

Playfair from Pathfinder Summer 2012

James McConnell provides  more great photos of the early work on the PLAYFAIR.  The photos are posted here.

Contact Toronto Brigantine Inc to share more memories of PLAYFAIR … to provide financial or gift in kind support for our program and the many maintenance projects needed for the boats …  or to sign up for this next Summer’s sail training season.

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

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

Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001

Pathfinder Fundraising Update by J G Lorriman, May 27, 1963

The following is an update to Pathfinder Supporters sent by then TBI President J.G. Lorriman. Transcribed from original document provided by Paul Clarke Jul 19, 2012)


170 ST. GEORGE STREET, SUITE 419, TORONTO 5 924-2313, WAlnut 3-7924



Charles Q. Ellis

A. Grant MacLachlan

Stuart B. Playfair David p, Rogers

James Stewart

Olcott P Titus (handwritten)


J. Garfield Lorriman

Dr. Joslyn W. Rogers

John A. Clarke

James Ward Cotton

Robert I Hendy

Karin Larson

Dennis H. Love

Francis A. MacLachlan

John McVey

Dr. Morris L. Rotstein

Maurice D.   Smith

Leonard D. Stupart

Board of Advisors (handwritten in)

Edward P Lawless (handwritten in)

RR Rowe (handwritten in)

May 27, 1963

Dear Pathfinder Supporter:

Almost a year ago, a group of public-spirited citizens of the City of Toronto, who are interested in the training of young people in the Toronto area by “Building Character through Adventure”, formed a non-profit Company, Toronto Brigantine Incorporated. The purpose of the Company is to build and operate a square-rigged Brigantine similar to the “St. Lawrence II” which is now being used as a training ship operating out of Kingston, Ontario.

At the First Annual Meeting of Toronto Brigantine Incorporated last week, I was very pleased to report that much progress has been made. One important objective has been reached – we have built a ship: The “Pathfinder” was launched at Kingston Shipyards on May 6th, so we now have the basic hull. This will be brought to Toronto under her own power, and should arrive at the dock at the foot of Spadina Avenue about 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 2nd.

The ship will be completed, mostly by volunteer help from the Sea Cadets, Sea Scouts, Sea Rangers, etc., and’ others who have offered their services. With this kind of assistance, and the additional financial assistance required, it is hoped that the “Pathfinder” will be ready to start her training duties by the Summer of 1964.

Support of this project has been very encouraging. Help in the form of money, goods and services has come from many sources. Already about $35,000. in cash has been raised, and because of  the donations of various goods and services, our estimated cost to complete is now $75,000. instead of the $120,000. ,originally figured. We are very grateful to all those who have been so generous.

This letter is being written as a progress report to those who have already so kindly donated, and as a reminder to those who hav’e not sent in their contributions. Receipts for Income Tax purposes will be forwarded.

For any, other information, please contact me, or any of the other directors at the above address.

Yours very truly,


J. G. LORRlMAN, President


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.

Pathfinder is 34 years old, ready for another season. 1996

Here is another SUN newspaper clipping.

TBI alumnus, Sarah Dingle up the mast on Pathfinder. Its 1996 when Pathfinder was 34!

There are a lot of little people down below, she is 50 feet up on the mast! It seems that this year, the weather is much milder than 1996!

[Photo by Ken Kerr, the Newspaper clipping from the collection of TBI Alumnus, Rick Moore].

Remembering turning 25, 1989

Toronto Brigantine turned 25 in 1989. That was when our offices were on Maple Leaf Quay (283 Queens Quay West). That was when we were just finishing up the deck replacement for the Pathfinder. That was the year that the Yachtsmen’s Spring Thaw Luncheon had 500 people in attendence and raised over 12,000 for Toronto Brigantine’s bursary and operations funds thanks to the efforts of Marjorie Patterson and her team of Shellbacks and TBI supporters. That was the year of the 20th anniversary of the Deep Sea Award, which was presented to Mark Allen.  That was the year that Captain’s Bruce Macdonald and David Perry “retired” and Captain’s Jim Barry and Ron Bessey were commissions as the new captains of Playfair and Pathfinder respectively. Peter Bishop and Chuck Gauthier were commissioned as Captains of the two sloops, Velerita and Douglas Hay.

That was the year that we participated in Belleville’s Waterfront Festival and another Sackets Harbor 1812 battle reenactment – this time with water bombs added. Not to mention other ports of call in Cobourg, Welland Canal’s Lock 2, Port Colborne’s Canal Days, Buffalo’s Historic Lighthouse anniversary celebration and Detroits’s St Aubin Park Marina among others.

And that was the year of an amazing 25th anniversary Gala honouring TBI Founders. The “party” was at RCYC’s Island Clubhouse, with guests shuttling over on Kwasind and Hiawatha with the fireboat William Lyon Mackenzie providing a show.

[The Fall 1989 TBI Newsletter, came from the collection of TBI Alumnus, Rick Moore]

The Scarborough Sea Cadets honored guests with with a sunset ceremony.  Speeches were included – from Honorable Lincoln Alexander, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario who unveiled a plaque honouring the Founders, from Honourary Chairman Paul Phelan, from Francis MacLachlan – he designed the boats of course and  Maurice Smith -he was our first Captain.  Among lots of other TBI friends in attendence there was also in attendence Garf and Mary Lorriman with five of their six sons, Alan Hazell and Padre Keith Gleed.

Don’t forget to hold the date for our 50th Anniversary. The Festivities are scheduled for November 10, 2011 with activities throughout the weekend. Richard Birchall is the committee chair for this upcoming event. See you all there.

Playfair in Toronto Harbour, May 2000

Here is a photo from Toronto Star May 15, 2000 by Vince Talotta.

It shows former TBI alumni Charles Blott, Joe Dale and Stephen Hoff getting “their feet wet while training on the tall ship Playfair in Toronto Harbour front yesterday.  Now that looks like great teamwork and great fun.

This newspaper clipping was from the collection of TBI Alumnus, Rick Moore.

For more information on Toronto Brigantine’s sail training program for teenagers, sailing tall ships on the Great Lakes this summer, check out our 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.

Pathfinder’s picture in Oakville Beaver, 2009

Copy of Article [click on picture to go to original article]

May 29, 2009

Tall order.IN SEARCH OF SUMMER: It took Toronto Brigantine Inc. tall ship Pathfinder four hours to make it from Toronto to Oakville Tuesday — just in time for an information open house at the Oakville Public Library Central Branch. Toronto Brigantine has, over the past 46 years, offered a unique summer sailing experience for youths aged 13 to 18, who sail for nearly two weeks aboard one of the 72-foot traditional brigantines, STV Pathfinder or TS Playfair.    LIESA KORTMANN /OAKVILLE BEAVER

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

Deep Sea Award Plaque

The Deep Sea Award was introduced in 1970. Each year since, the winner is recognized on a Plaque and The Naval Officers Association of Canada sponsors a bursary for the costs of an international Tall Ship Sail Training exchange.

The Deep Sea Award Trophy is made from a beautiful plan of Honduras mahogany from Pathfinder’s original deckhouse bench seats. Mounted on the trophy is a wonderful sextant that was donated by the late O.K. Schenk, a former NOAC member and Toronto Brigantine Life member. The sextant was used by Ozzie’s grandfather, a master on sailing vessels and was used for navigation while crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the laying of the Trans Atlantic cable.

It was in May 11, 2002 that OK Schenk presents the award for the last time before he passed away [ see the vide that we have on file].

A close up from the 2010 picture posted here:

Deep Sea Award Winners are posted on theTBI website:

Some of the stories of Deep Sea Award Winners exchange experiences are posted here:

The latest 2011 Deep Sea Award winner was Jonah Charny and he did an  exchange on Georg Stage (Demark) in Sumer 2011.

Toronto Brigantine Inc

413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

tel: 416-596-7117 e-mail:


Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001