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Kiwanis Kavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps

Kiwanis Kavaliers
200 px
Location Kitchener—Waterloo
Miami, FL
Division World Class
Founded 1971
Folded 2006

The Kiwanis Kavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps were a World Class" drum and bugle corps based in Miami, Florida (Previously twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. This corps was Canada's only World Class drum corps until it moved its headquarters to Miami after the 2006 season. The Kiwanis Kavaliers have appeared in both Division I and Division II (now Open Class) competition throughout its history.

The highest championship finish by the corps was fourteenth place in 1996 and 1997.

The corps merged with several other Canadian drum corps over the years, helping to keep it alive and competitive. However, the corps finally folded in 2008 after several years of inactivity.

The corps alumni continue to have annual meetings to remember their time together.


Formerly headed by Doug Darwin, Russ McKechnie and John Cameron, the corps was founded in the fall of 1971 by Jack Turner as a member of Drum Corps International. At one point, Jack considered calling it "The Apple Corps," but didn't due in part to sponsorship by the local Kiwanis Club.

For the first 30 years of their existence, the Kiwanis Kavaliers enjoyed many years as a Canadian-based drum and bugle corps, achieving various levels of success. The first 10 years were mostly spent doing the parade and local competition circuit in Southern Ontario under the Ontario Drum Corps Association (ODCA) along with about 30 other local drum corps. They were generally considered a "Cadet" or "C" class corps at this time. There were occasional trips to the U.S. during this time. One memorable HUGE trip was when the corps went down to Disney World for the American Bicentennial in 1976, and the irony is that eventually Florida became the corps' home. To many, this was the most fun period to be a member of the Kavaliers. But fun times would always surround the corps for years to come. The years between 1982 through 1986 were mostly about trying to leave the "C" class roots and become a slightly more competitive unit.

The winter of 1987 is arguably where the corps had its most dramatic change: Another neighbour corps, St. Andrews Drum and Bugle Corps of Cambridge, ON, merged with us. Personnel-wise, obviously, the corps got bigger by enhancing every section of the corps. But, primarily, it was the drumline, and its "new blood" that really pushed the engine behind the corps' success. As a result, 1987 was the first year the corps made DCI A Class finals and was now a corps to be considered. 1987 through 1991 was spent getting established as an A class perennial contender. In 1992 the corps got another influx of talent from a small town in Eastern Ontario and really seemed to have a corps that enjoyed performing their "Danny Elfman" show for the audience. In 1993 the corps got smaller as some people left but that also caused some of the younger ones who stayed to have to "grow up" and assume responsibility and that helped in the coming years.

File:1996 Kiwanis Kavaliers Snareline.jpg
1996 Kiwanis Kavaliers Snareline

In 1994 and 1995 the corps played music by Pat Methany which required everyone to get more sophisticated in how they approached the drum corps "game". Another huge merger happened in 1995 which really helped push the corps further: The Ventures Drum and Bugle Corps from our same hometown of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON had succumbed and needed a place to send their girls (they were a VERY successful All-Girl corps). With their help, in 1995 the corps finished 2nd in Div II with a score of 95.6, just 0.8 behind first place. And, the corps also won top brass and top percussion caption awards. Of course, success breeds success, so these caption wins attracted a lot of other people to the corps for the 1996 season, including many from Quebec, as well as many Americans, all of a certain talent level. It was at this time that the director, Doug Darwin, decided that the corps should go to Division I rather than rest on its laurels in Div II. In 1996 the corps performed "West Side Story" and finished in 14th place with a score of 79.2 and in 1997, playing an "Evita" theme the corps again finished 14th but with a score of 82.7, our highest ever. 1998 and 1999 were also fairly good years ("An American In Paris" 16th; "Music of the New York Voices" 19th) but by 2000 and 2001 membership was starting to diminish.

The trip to Europe in 2001 was a definite hilite, enjoyed by all. But, there was still a concern for the next year over numbers. Sometime, early in the winter of 2002, Doug Darwin and Tampa Bay Thunder director Jim Newman met and discussed a "collaboration" (read "merger"). During the first 2 years of this merger, there were staggered camps held both in Florida and Waterloo. The last two years (2004/2005), although the corps remained "headquartered" in Kitchener-Waterloo, most camps were held in Florida and it was becoming a de facto Florida organization.

On February 17, 2007, the organization announced that a large amount of equipment was stolen from their equipment truck located in Miami, Florida. According to a reward poster on the corps's main page, twenty trumpets, seven mellophones, fourteen baritones, ten tubas, seven snares, five tenor drums and three bass drums were stolen.

File:2005 Kiwanis Kavaliers.jpg
2005 Kiwanis Kavaliers

In 2006, the corps announced that it would not tour during the summer 2006 season due to a sudden change in administration and staffing. In late 2006, the new corps administration announced their petition to return to a full Drum Corps International Tour. However, on January 25, 2007, the administration announced that they would remain inactive. The corps continued in an inactive state through 2008 before finally disbanding. The corps lives on in memories and via annual reunions.

Kitchener-Waterloo Drum Corps Association

The Kiwanis Kavaliers, through 1993, were one of 4 drum corps sharing the same membership base out of K-W (with a combined population, at that time, of about 200,000). The Dutchboy and Dutchboy Cadets were under the same parent organization so KW had 3 separate, fairly successful drum corps organizations, with likely the best years being in the late 80s/early 90s when Dutchboy were hovering around 12th-14th in Open class, Ventures were winning A class and Kavaliers were around 3rd-5th in A). The fact that all 3 organizations were competitive with each other but still able to field units that were competitive in the activity was impressive and likely not matched by any other city in North America, ever. Many ask (and have asked) the question "Why didn't all 3 groups come together to form one 'Super Corps' to blast into DCI's top 12?" The simple answer is because we were happy and healthy as separate units (and a mistake by one doesn't take down the whole house of cards). Also, only one corps was doing the full summer tour while the others still allowed their members to hold summer jobs, etc. and this was seen as a good thing.

Corps Nicknames

  • Kavies
  • Kiwanis
  • Kiwi-Kavs

Corps Motto

We Are One

External links