Ontario Steelpan Association is the culmination of an initiative by avid steelpan enthusiasts to promote and preserve their musical art form in Canada through the formation of an umbrella organization. In 2001 representatives of Toronto's steelpan community participated in a previously arranged meeting with Mr. Patrick Arnold, President of Pan Trinbago (Trinidad & Tobago) at the offices of the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC), Toronto. It was attended by Patrick Arnold, Cecil Clarke (President, Pan Trinbago Canada), Cristabelle Crichlow & Tommy Crichlow (Pan Masters), Miley Duke (New Dimension), Selwyn Henry & Andrew Jackson (Panatics), Elton John (Missisauga Academy of Steelband Music), Ian Jones (Facilitator), Wendy Jones (Pan Fantasy), Heather McIvor (Jesse Ketchum Pan Vibrations), Danny Mosca (Silhouettes), Edward Peters (CCC Board member), Ivor Picou, Tom Sosa (Afropan), Earle Wong (pan tuner for Panyard Precision Steel Band Instruments), and Jamea Zuberi (Melange Steelpan Ensemble). This group met monthly with the aim of creating one representative steelpan association in Toronto.
In September, 2002, the Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA) had its inaugural meeting and the association was incorporated in October with a mandate "to promote excellence in all facets of steelpan in Canada, by providing open, accountable leadership in all matters related to the recognition, growth and development of the steelpan and the steelpan community; and to do so with absolute respect and trust". The association promotes interest in the growth, recognition, research & development, study and practice of the steelpan art form by holding lectures, concerts, classes, seminars and workshops in steelpan and steelpan-related activities. OSA arranges and sanctions competitions and performances, and establishes and grants prizes, awards and distinctions to steelpan player, arrangers and composers.
The head office of Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA) is 2005 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 303 Toronto and its first directors were Winston Frederick, Selwyn Henry, Ian Jones, Jose Machado and Earle Wong. OSA has since its inception, worked in partnership with Trinidad & Tobago's Consul-General (Toronto) and a variety of local educational and social community organizations and individuals to develop this unique musical invention and its devoted community, one that has grown and spread in the last decade throughout to the GTA and beyond.
The Official Launch of Ontario Steelpan Association was held on Thursday, June 26 2003 and attended by guest of honour, Dr. Ellie Mannette - one of steelpan's emminent pioneers and innovators. The story of the steelpan is a social history of Trinidad and Tobago, the triumph of mainly untrained musical talent, creativity and grassroots dedication over the oppression of the privileged class. He affirmed that after a long, hard struggle, pan is now much bigger than Trinidad and Tobago.
In Canada, OSA has played a critical role in the proliferation of steel pan and is one of the core partners in the annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival, the premiere showcasing of this musical instrument in North America.
Canadian pan players have achieved great recognition and artistic achievements, such as Ian Jones, Earl LaPierre, Jr., Hameed "Pan Piper" Shaqq, Winston "Pappy" Frederick, "Panman Pat" McNeilly, Tommy Crichlow, Talib Robinson, to name a few.
In May 2009, OSA, the Organization of Calypso Performers Association (OCPA) and Toronto Mas' Bands Association (TMBA) began meetings aimed at executing our collective responsibility for the artistic growth and development of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival – a mission that will lead us to collaboratively engage in vigorous community outreach to ensure the preservation and perpetuation of our cultural art forms.
OSA is the producer of the Pan Alive extravaganza at Lamport Stadium on the Friday night of Toronto Caribbean Carnival climactic final week. Over a dozen large steelbands each perform two extended arrangements of pieces chosen for the occasion and vie for prizes in an exciting, open-air evening concert programme that in 2009 featured the winners of Trinidad & Tobago's famous Panorama Competition, the Silver Stars Steel Orchestra.
In April 2004, OSA partnered with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the Tourism & Industry Development Company of Trinidad & Tobago to produce Pan Fest, a non-competitive steelpan event in which 23 elementary and high schools participated at Bickford Centre. The TDSB had produced this event successfully on its own since 1989 but decided to demonstrate its commitment to reach out to the younger generation, especially those who are currently in the education system.
Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA) is a leading advocate for community development and artistic excellence and invites the assistance of all parties interested in furthering its goals of creating professional and educational opportunities for the steelpan community in Canada.