History of the CBA

The Ontario Chapter of the Canadian Band Association was incorporated in 1934 and has a rich a varied history.

Below is a brief history of the Canadian Band Association written by Allan J. Calvert in 2002. Allan has been a member of CBA-Ontario since 1949 and served as treasurer for many years.

The War of 1914-1918 had ceased and the anticipation of peace once again held the hearts of Canadians; Military veterans were still returning from the front and a normal life style was resuming in cities like Toronto. The downtown streets bustled with vintage automobiles and horse drawn carriages. It was then that Captain John Slater,the bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders dreamt of forming an association of bands and bandmasters.

Three years later in 1921, together with A.L. Robertson and some businessmen of Toronto, the Board of the Canadian National Exhibition was induced to set up prizes for a band contest. Subsequently by 1924 the Ontario Amateur Band Association was formed.

In 1931, a group of Canadian bandmasters, with Captain Slater as their leader, planned the formalization of the Canadian Bandmaster s Association. A Dominion Charter was received in 1933, with Letters Patent from the Secretary of State in 1934. The organization thrived as a basic professional, community oriented band director’s organization.

Sometime during the war years of 1939 to 1945. A.L. Robertson joined with C.F. Theil of the Waterloo Music Co. to promote music and banding and they developed the company sponsored Waterloo Music Festival. The latter was the site of CBA professional and educational conferences. Annual meetings were held in the upstairs auditorium of this company.

I remember so well the tents, the sounds, the adjudication, the Tattoo,and the finale of the parade down King Street. Those were the ‘golden days’ of concert and marching bands. I also remember when artists such as Rafael Mendez and Leona May Smith and a host of others arrived to teach and demonstrate in the same auditorium. I remember too the guest bands and the reading sessions and especially the camaraderie and feeling of belonging.

I myself had joined the CBA in 1949. I attended most annual meetings and sadly watched as the membership dropped and the competitions and conferences ceased as the financial support of Waterloo diminished. Men like Frank McKinnon , Cliff Hunt, Martin Boundy and my own bandmaster Eldon Johnston kept the ship afloat through the lean years.

In 1955, a group of bandmasters from Alberta received a charter to become the Alberta Band Association the first CBA chapter outside of Ontario.

In 1956, the National Council of the Canadian Bandmasters Association was formed as a central body to encompass the growing body of provincial chapters. Through the 60’s and 70’s Provincial chapters flourished Canada-wide. Some were fortunate enough to be sponsored by their provincial governments and continue to influence their provinces music education system.

In 1973, the name of the Ontario organization was changed to The Canadian Band Director’s Association Inc. The CBDA received its final name change in 1984. It is now widely known as The Canadian Band Association(Ontario) Inc.

The CBA today represents a host of band directors, students, administrators, composers, music industries and musicians, both professional and amateur, who are interested in bands and band music in Ontario and Canada. It is a registered not-for-profit organization and supported solely by membership just as is the OMEA. Board members are volunteers who annually elect an Executive from within. It is the present board’s sincere wish that CBA(Ont) maintain a favourable and positive working relationship with the OMEA as well as all other organizations dedicated to music education.