& Pipe Bands
The Bagpipe, or "Piob Mhor" as it is known in Gaelic, has enthralled listeners for centuries. Its wild and exciting skirling has spurred men into battle as far back as the days when the bible first made mention of it in the Old Testament, Book of Genesis, "Jubal was Father of the Fiddlers and Pipers". The pipes were certainly known in ancient Rome, as a historian of the first century informs, that Emperor Nero "knew how to play the pipe and the bag thrust under his arm". Evidence also points to the fact that the Romans brought the instrument to Britain at the time of the conquest. The likelihood that the bagpipe, in primitive form, was known to Scotsmen about 2000 years ago. Although it figures prominently at the English courts of Edward II and III, as well as Henry VIII, who established court pipes and collected all sorts of bagpipes, its real popularity grew in the rugged highlands. Ideally suited to the outdoors, it was the perfect instrument with which to record clan victories, histories and laments.
From its early form, a simple bag with a melody pipe or chanter, the Great Highland Bagpipe of the Scottish Highlands evolved with its valved mouthpiece, three drones and a reed chanter with finger stops. Some are instruments of astonishing beauty with silver embellishments and carvings. Many pipers have been taught their skills by their father and grandfathers and are able to trace the family tradition back to days when their ancestors piped the clans into battle on the wild moors. "To the making of a piper go seven generations of his own learning and seven generations before," wrote the historian Neil Munro some centuries ago. All of the traditional schools of piping in the highlands of Scotland is gone. There are, however, two main schools for Pipers in the United Kingdom; the Army School of Piping located in Edinburgh Castle, affiliated with the Royal Military School of Music, and the College of Piping located in Glasgow, a civilian organization which began in 1947 and is now known throughout the world. In 1983 the Canadian Forces established a school for pipers and drummers under the auspices of the Canadian Forces School of Music located at the Canadian Forces Base, Ottawa.
The role of the bagpipe is more than just a musical instrument, it is a national institution, particularly of Scotland, who share this tradition abundantly with Canada.
"The pipes" came to Canada about 200 years ago. Scottish fur traders and adventurers brought the instrument with them to overcome the tedium of long months and years in isolated trading posts. In 1759 it brought inspiration to Wolfe's Highlanders at the capture of Quebec. It is recorded that at one point in the fighting, which followed the climb the Heights of Abraham, the invaders began to waver. The pipes, silent till then, were brought into action. Rallying to their war slogan, the Highlanders took fresh heart and pressed on to victory. The extent to which Canada's destiny was influenced here, by the bagpipe, must remain a matter of conjecture but it is certain that the sound of the pibroch has since marked the progress of many pioneers and Canadian Regiments into battle.
Whenever the Scot settled in Canada he brought his pipes with him. In early Canada the instruments were associated with path finding explorations. The explorers, McKenzie and Fraser, were known to have had pipers as members of their teams of adventurers. A water-colour, which is in possession of the Hudson's Bay Company, depicts Sir Simpson of the Hudson Bay Company, on a tour of inspection in 1828 accompanied by his piper.
Explorers recognized the value of the pipes as a medium of entertainment and to express the pride of their race. The native people also were known to be partial to the warlike strains of the bagpipes. Whether it acted as an opiate or they were frightened by its sound or it was just a case of genuine admiration is unknown. The Indians of Canada did respond to the pipes as to no other form of music introduced into North America.
The Hudson Bay Company was fully aware of this and used the instrument to advantage in dealing with the Native People. Pipers accompanied the company's officers on a vast tract of North Western territory. The same music cheered the Selkirk settlers on their memorable march from Hudson Bay to the Red River. Meanwhile, successive waves of Scottish settlers in the east contributed to the establishing of a piping lore now deeply rooted in Canadian life and customs.
To the uninitiated ear, the bagpipe seems at first to play but one tune, and that one by no means tuneful but salute. Marches, strathspey, reel and pibroch, with all their subtle shades of musical expression, have, to the lover of pipes, all the emotions of the human heart. Joy or sorrow, love or hate, admiration or scorn, anger or fear, is all within the range of the instrument in the hands of the master. The instrument revels in description, the clash of arms, the tumult of battle, victory and defeat hanging uncertain in the balance. The ecstasy of triumph and the agony of losing are all inescapably linked to the battle music of the pipes.
In war, the piper is the direct descendant of the ancient bards, whose part it was to rouse their clan members to deeds of heroism by reciting the glorious achievements of old time warriors. So the piper has inherited a storehouse of music handed down from ancient days, music in which famous battles of the past are celebrated for the encouragement of soldiers of the present day. Of these "Cogadh no Sith" (War or Peace) is one of the oldest and best known. All the clans played it for centuries when preparing for battle. They were played at Waterloo when the 79th (Cameron Highlanders) formed in a hollow square awaiting the enemy's attack. The situation was doubtful, every nerve was tense, and the Piper, Kenneth McKay, true to his calling, calmly paraded around the outside of the square playing this appropriate tune. There are no misgivings as to the result after that.
Bagpipe tunes formed a musical record of the battles in which Highland Regiments or Clans with their pipers took part. A piper, who was there, composed a commemorative piece and if his pipe tune was received with approval it was added to the list of the tunes of war.
The first Scottish Regiments to see service in Canada was stationed in Quebec and Nova Scotia. The first units known to have pipers were the Montgomery's Highlanders and the 42nd Highlanders or Black Watch in 1759 and the Fraser Highlanders in 1761. This was before the advent of the first officially recognized pipe bands in 1854, but the Fraser Highlanders had at least thirty pipers and drummers. Highland regiments were organized in Canada in the late 18th century, the earliest documented being the Royal Highland Emigrants in 1775, who were later called the 84th Highlanders. Other very early Highland units that were raised include the Argyll or 74th Highlanders established in 1778. These early indigenous Canadian units are not known to have pipe bands, but there is no doubt that there were pipers among the ranks. The companies of Highland units raised in Canada and Scottish regiments helped to keep alive the bagpipe as a solo instrument. The individual pipers at this time maintained the traditional role of the piper -- piping to stir their comrades to battle and for entertainment.
Many of the Canadian reserve volunteer units started pipe bands before the establishment of the Canadian Militia and the creation of the highland pipe band as a musical unit. The very early ensembles were comprised of the pipes of the regimental companies who joined together at various times to provide the martial and dancing tunes when their regiment was in camp.
The Canadian regiments which had bands were mostly affiliated with Highland Regiments of Scotland, whose titles they bore and whose traditions they sought to preserve. The oldest pipe band that was organized in Canada was the Royal Highlanders of Canada dating from 1816 and was affiliated with the Black Watch. This unit was headquartered in Hamilton and later became known as the Hamilton Light Infantry. Other Highland regiments which were formed and had pipes or pipe bands include the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada at Vancouver, the Pictou Highlanders of Nova Scotia, the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada at Winnipeg, the Canadian Scottish Regiment of Victoria, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Hamilton, the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, the Calgary Highlanders and, the most well known and influential pipe band in Canada, the 48th Highlanders of Canada in Toronto. The 48th were founded in 1891 and were, when at their pinnacle, a world class musical ensemble.
The addition of small drum corps consisting of rope tension side drums, bass drums, as well as tenor drums, along with the regimental pipers, joined forces to launch the most distinctive and universal musical organization, the Highland Pipe Bands.
Pipe bands were not only in abundance in Highland units but also in mounted contingents. The early Militia, 1st and 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, had full pipe bands which in peace time were also mounted. In addition to the established units many regiments, raised for service at the beginning of the first World War in 1914, adopted pipe bands.
To the bagpipes belong the distinction of being the only musical instrument to actually go "over the top." There were pipers with many Canadian Regiments overseas including the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the 107th Pioneers as well as the 1st and 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles.
The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) had the advantage of getting "en masse" the pipe band of the City of Edmonton. The members journeyed to Ottawa in August 1914 and offered to "play the battalion into France and back." The pipers, of whom many were émigré Scots, had volunteered for the Patricias although a very small percentage of the regiment had Scottish backgrounds.
In action, Canadian pipers were often employed in secondary duties as stretcher bearers, runners, ammunition and ration carriers and transport individuals. Frequently they were found at the heart of their companies, playing them into action, and then resuming their primary duties. Under these battle conditions many pipers were decorated for valour. The pipers of the PPCLI, two of who were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, played the leading wave of the battalion up the lip of the crater of Vimy Ridge in April, 1917.
The 13th Royal Highlanders of Canada (Black Watch) seemed to have been very badly handicapped at the outset of the war by the lack of pipers, only five having gone out with the original contingent and two of the pipers were lost in battle of Ypres in April, 1915. Matters improved for the band in April 1917 by a reinforcement of eight pipers under Pipe Major A. J. Saunders, all nine of who came from reserve battalions.
The 16th Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) kept to the old Highland clan system of having pipers whenever and wherever possible. No battle appeared to have been fought without the strains of one or more of their pipers resounding in the ears of some of the fighting men. One of the Colonels had the pipers walk along his side whenever he went into battle. Only the threatened break up of regimental pipe bands through heavy casualties finally caused the withdrawal of pipers from front line trenches. In spite of this, the instrument continued to figure in the fighting until the end of the war. The statistics on the piper casualties, as well as the number of them who were awarded medals, is indicative of the courage displayed by the soldier musicians. A good example of the losses sustained by the pipers was the 16th Battalion who set out in 1915 with seventeen pipers and by November 1918 only three remained. Within this unit Pipe Major James Groat had his gallantry recognized with the DCM and the MM with Bar. Groat was severely wounded and had to be invalided back to Canada. The other pipers of the 16th were equally gallant; eight were awarded the Military Metal.
The crowning award of the Victoria Cross was also reserved for a piper of the 16th Battalion, James Richardson, a native of Victoria, BC, whose heroic deed is summed up in the Canadian War Museum, recording the glorious service to his country performed on October 8th, 1916.
"This piper (Richardson) performed deeds of the most extraordinary valour. He implored his Commanding Officer to allow him to play his company over the top. As the company approached the trench they were held up by very strong wire and came under a most terrific fire. The casualties were appalling, and the company were momentarily demoralized. Realizing the situation he strode up and down outside the wire, playing his pipes with unhurried calm. The effect on the company was instantaneous and, inspired by his splendid example, they reformed and sprang at the wire with such fury and determination that they succeeded in cutting their way through and capturing the position which was known as "Regina Trench". After entering the trench he asked for some grenades from the Company Sgt Major, and together they bombed a dugout, capturing two prisoners. He was afterwards detailed to take the prisoners out and to assist the Company Sgt Major who had been wounded. After proceeding about two hundred yards he remembered he had left his pipes behind. Richardson was urged not to turn back for his beloved pipes, but he refused and was presumed killed in action. He was awarded the VC posthumously for his gallantry."During the First World War, Canada equipped and sent overseas between 25 and 30 pipe bands. The pipers of these bands were classified as combatants on active service. The Kings Rules and Orders has officially maintained this traditional role for pipers. Records of the Canadian Corps testify to the zeal that they carried out their duties despite the fact that not all of their employment was "above and beyond the call of duty." A case in point was the pipers of the 19th (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) Battalion who acted as stretcher bearers until 1916 when they were allowed to play their companies to and from the front lines. The pipers of the 21st Battalion also began the campaign as stretcher bearers and medical orderlies, but as this work became increasingly more dangerous, they were withdrawn in order to provide pipe music behind the lines.
As stretcher bearers, the twenty-five pipers of the 25th Battalion did duty with Pipe Major J. Carson being awarded the Meritorious Service Metal. The 26th New Brunswick Regiment Band continued as pipers whenever the opportunity presented itself. There were eighteen in the pipe band, mostly from St John with a scattering from Fredericton and Moncton. They all were able to escape sickness and wounds until the attack against Amiens in 1918, when several were severely wounded.
The 29th (British Columbia) Regiment Pipe Band suffered a number of losses and from their original 20 piece band eight were killed in action on November 6th, 1917. The 46th (Saskatchewan) Battalion pipers found themselves bearing stretchers instead of playing their comrades into action as was their custom. But three members of the Pipe Band did receive awards for valour while acting as stretcher bearers.
The pipers could not complain of monotony in their duties, for they were at times at the head of their companies playing them into action and later, when a restriction was placed on their battle activities, they played their regiments to the front lines. When they were not involved with the piping duties they were out with stretchers bringing in the wounded or were back and forth carrying ammunition for the trenches. However, somehow the competitive spirit, which is consistently in evidence among pipers was maintained with several great piping tournaments held behind the lines. In October 1917, at Camblain le Abbe, Sir Douglas Haig reviewed the massed pipe bands of the Canadian Corps. On Dominion Day, 1918, all available pipe bands in the Allied Forces met for a Highland Gathering. The estimated number of pipers for this "fling" was well over 500. The festivity included every form of the Highland magic and was highlighted with pipe competitions and marching displays.
As the final cease fire sounded the end of "the war to end all wars," the skirl of the pipes heralded the entry of Canadian troops into Mons. The pipes were strongly in evidence as the Canadians made their triumphal trek across the Rhine in 1919.
Following the First World War something like a piping renaissance swept through Canada. The Highland Gatherings, long a feature of Canadian Scottish community life, took a fresh lease on life and spread like wild flowers into other segments of Canadian society. In the west new gatherings sprung up almost every year and the old games circuit once confined to Scottish centres in Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia widened to include all of Canada. The early 1930's showed that there were over 60 pipe bands in Canada. The most prestigious event during this period was the CPR Banff Highland Gathering, which attracted pipers from across Canada and around the world.
Nearly every city of any size from Sydney, Cape Breton Island, to Victoria had pipe bands of one form or another. Some cities boasted of two or three, Toronto and Winnipeg divided the honours with no less than four bands each. There were so many military pipe bands that the Militia Department published a list in 1938 of their location, affiliation, tartan, strength and Pipe Major.
The years between the wars were highlighted for the Canadian Military pipers in two separate events - the Canadian Corps Reunion, which was held in Toronto in August 1934 and the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial in France, which took place in June 1936. The pipers employed for the 1936 ceremony were selected from various militia units from across Canada while the reunion in Toronto featured four Ontario pipe bands in massed formation.
On the eve of the Second World War, the special list for Warrant Officers showed that, in 1939, there were 16 Pipe Bands and 18 Pipe Majors on the Militia rolls. Many of the pipe majors had served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War.
The history of the pipe bands and pipers during the Second World War is interwoven with the military bands. At the outbreak of the war none of the Non Permanent Active Militia (NPAM) units mobilized for the 1st and 2nd Divisions were authorized to enlist bands although Highland Regiments were permitted to take six pipers overseas. The number of pipers however, who were unofficially on the rolls during the initial stages, was considerably higher because most of the highland units configured their company staffing list extensively with platoon medical orderlies or clerks who were also pipers.
A carry over from the First World War was the damaging Kings Regulations (Canadian) which stated that bandsmen and pipers will be trained as stretcher bearers and in first aid to the wounded. In this type of battle conditions pipers were subject to not only sniper fire but also intense machine gun fire. Highland units experienced several losses from among their cadre of pipers and were fortunate that the casualties were not more serious.
The raid by the Second Division on the resort town of Dieppe on August 19th, 1942, has been considered by some historians a dismal military failure. Other military strategists declared the raid a partial success because it purchased a valuable experience for use later by the Allies. Nevertheless, there were 851 Canadian lives lost and 1,944 men who surrendered spent the three years in captivity. Five of the nineteen Canadian units who hit the beach at Dieppe were Highland units. The arrival of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada is described in the Canadian War Museum Historical Publication "Canada at Dieppe" by Mr T. Murray Hunter and dramatically illustrates the precarious nature of military piping:
"Meanwhile, Lt Gostling had decided to postpone the Cameron's' landing ten minutes in order to give the Saskatchewans more time to clear the bridgehead through which the battalion was to pass. Navigational errors contributed to the delay when, a full 30 minutes late, the landing craft reached "Green Beach" led by a piper playing in full view of the enemy. The Commanding Officer, who encouraged his men on the run in, was killed as he leaped out on the shingle."The Essex Scottish of Windsor and Chatham, had the misfortune of losing two pipers at Dieppe despite the fact that pipers of that regiment had been restricted to general duties in the rear areas. Other Highland units, such as the Black Watch, suffered casualties among their pipers or were incarcerated by the Germans for the balance of the war. After this debacle, units that had pipers found it advisable to hold them as much as possible out of forward areas. The Cape Breton Highlanders kept their pipers looking after stores in their "B" Echelon. The Irish Regiment of Canada had their pipers handling baggage in the rear or had them as general duty personnel. The consensus was that the medical orderlies and stretcher bearers were easier to come by than pipers.
After VE Day, units of the Canadian Army Occupation Force were to have their own pipe bands. However, with the last Corps bands being disbanded in March, 1945, a new approach to raising pipe bands was necessary.
Many of the units who had
served overseas returned to Canada and reactivated their pipe bands for
peace time service. Others, for whom no pipe band existed, sought ways
to establish a pipe band for their regimental compliment. The following
letter characterizes the emphasis that Canadian Highland Units place on
bearing a distinctive Scottish regimental trademark and the reverence military
commanders had for pipe bands.
NO 1 CANADIAN REPATRIATION DEPOT
In February 1942, NO 9 SFTS Summerside, PEI, requested authority to substitute pipes for trumpets in the trumpet and drum band authorized for that unit. The Minister's approval was granted on February 20th, 1942. In this way the first pipe band in the RCAF came into being. This band operated on a voluntary basis during the time No 9 SFTS was at Summerside and later it was located to Centralia, Ontario. In May, 1943, the band establishment was authorized for 19 men.
The RCAF tartan was designed and the band was outfitted with complete Highland regalia. In July 1943, another pipe band was authorized for RCAF Station Sydney, Nova Scotia and personnel from other RCAF stations in the vicinity were posted in to provide pipers and drummers for this band.
Following the war there was no establishment for a full time pipe band in the Canadian Army. However, when the Korean War broke out in 1950, the Army authorized a pipe band for the 27th Canadian Infantry Brigade that was known as the 1st Canadian Highland Battalion. This band, which was organized in December 1951, became the forerunner of the Canadian Guards Pipe Band. In the Reserve Force there were 24 pipe bands authorized in 1951. A Canadian Forces organizational table for 1965 indicates that there were 30 pipe bands in the four Commands and Areas of Canada as follows: Eastern Command 2, Quebec Command 1, Eastern Ontario Area 4, Central Ontario Area 8, Western Ontario Area 4, Manitoba Area 2, Saskatchewan Area 3, Alberta Area 3 and British Columbia Area 3.
The Canadian Guards, with their Headquarters in Camp Petawawa received authority for the formation of a pipe band within the battalion establishment in February 1954. The Area Headquarters was requested to provide a Pipe Major.
In mid-March, Pipe Major Archie Cairns reported to the Battalion and set about to organize a pipe band. Pipe Major Cairns had enlisted from the reserve pipe band of Hamilton, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He was eminently qualified for his position, as he was a graduate of the British Army School of Piping and had begun piping at an early age and followed in his father's footsteps as Pipe Major of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, in Hamilton.
The new pipe major set off on a recruiting tour of Militia pipe bands in the Command. As a result of his tour two drummers were enlisted and posted to the Battalion. In a matter of weeks all three were playing for a recruit passing out parade. In the meantime a dozen volunteers from the recruit company had begun the first basic music course and were hard at work learning to read music and count time.
In September of 1954 there were six students who had succeeded to play well enough to perform on parade and the drum section under Drummer Bob Freeman, who had been enlisted earlier, were also on the way to understanding rudimentary drumming.
Progress for the Guards Pipe Band was good and in May 1955 the Band appeared at their first retreat on the parade ground and for their initial public performance on behalf of the Canadian Legion in both Petawawa and Cobden.
In 1955 the Band was outfitted in full dress uniform that included the Royal Stewart tartan, the feather bonnet and sporran that was of the regimental pattern.
The Guards Pipe Band, under P/M Cairns, rapidly became very well known in Canadian piping circles. Following the Canadian Forces Tattoo in 1967, The Guards were disbanded and the band went through various stages until being completely dismantled in 1979. In 1964, P/M Cairns was posted to Canadian Forces Base Ottawa Pipe Band and stationed in Rockcliffe. CWO Cairns, before his retirement in 1981, was instrumental in organizing and developing the Canadian Forces School of Piping at CFB Ottawa.
The Royal Canadian Navy's first pipe band was established on October 10th, 1954, and was underwritten by the ship's fund of HMCS Cape Breton that bought the original training equipment and paid the instructor's fees. In August, 1955, the unit was authorized by Naval Headquarters as an official Navy Band.
From the beginning, Pipe Major Dey, a reservist who had served as a medic during the war, developed and encouraged his fledgling pipers. The Band made its first public appearance fittingly on Cape Breton Island on the occasion of the official opening of the Canso Causeway, August 13th, 1955.
After its debut the Navy's pipe band was in much demand. Its second appearance was on August 31st when it participated in the Navy Day parade. Several weeks later, to the surprise of many of the 15,000 spectators, the RCN paraded its pipe band. This was during the Lunenburg Fisheries Exhibition on September 14th. They next appeared on November 11th, Remembrance Day, when they led the RCN contingent in the Grand Naval Parade to the Cenotaph in Halifax.
The ranks of this pipe band were filled by newly joined naval apprentices and at their peak there were 25 pipers and drummers. In 1958, the Navy Department discontinued ship board bands and the pipe band was disbanded.
The Air Command Pipes and Drums of CFB Ottawa was among four regular and reserve pipe bands selected to participate in Canada's salute to the United States Bicentennial in Philadelphia on May 29th and 30th, 1976. Headed by Pipe Major, CWO Archie Cairns of CFB Ottawa, the massed Pipes and Drums included bandsmen from the Royal Canadian Regiment, Montreal's Black Watch and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa. Along with the military bands of the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Royal Regiment of Canada, the RCMP Musical Ride and a contingent from Ontario's Fort Henry Guard, the kilted bandsmen performed at various events including an Montreal Expos and Philadelphia Phillies baseball game.
All contingents took part in an hour long downtown street parade to kick off the Canadian Salute and the sound and colour was witnessed on National US Television as well as by thousands of bystanders. Massed Pipes and Drums and Military Bands performed specially arranged concert presentations that had been organized in advance by Pipe Major Cairns.
The integration of the Canadian Forces brought a change in the attitude towards pipers and drummers in the forces by the Defence Department. Traditionally pipers had not been classed as musicians and therefore were paid less than their counterparts in the military bands. A news release by the Canadian Press in January 1964, outlined the problem:
PIPERS NOT MUSICIANS
One of the most fascinating and unusual pipe bands to be formed during World War 1 was the Mounted Pipe Band of the First Canadian Mounted Rifles. The original marching band was formed in Brandon, Manitoba, in December, 1914, where the unit was mobilized and remained for the winter of 1914. Band members were approached in the spring by the battalion officers to have a try at a mounted band. The pipers and drummers were surprised at the manner in which the horses calmly responded to the skirling of the pipes and the rat-tat-tat of the drums. The horses were quite fresh off the range and had been broken by bronco busters, whom saddle broke them and thoroughly trained them within a matter of weeks. All of them were trained to respond to knee guidance for direction and keep perfect step while the band was playing.
The band was nineteen strong when they left Brandon and remained the only mounted pipe band organized in Canada. On their arrival in France they were dismounted and converted to Infantry. Their jobs included stretcher bearing and working with ration parties. They had many casualties in the band but were reorganized prior towards the end of the war and appeared on Dominion Day, July 1st, 1918, in the Corps Sports and Ceremonial Parade at Tinques. Their performance was described in the history of the 50th Battalion "No Man's Land":
"The most unusual thrilling sight of the colourful occasion was the spectacular march past of the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division. The Regiment was led by the mounted pipe band of twelve pipers and eight drummers and their beautiful chargers visibly enjoyed their splendid role to the tune of the regimental march past, Highland Laddie. They were, at that time, the world's first completely mounted band and they made the most of the honour."
When the 48th Highlanders were established at Toronto's Baily Hall in 1891, the pipers were recruited to rouse enthusiasm of the candidates for membership in the newly formed Regiment. On the formal recognition of the 48th, one of the first actions taken was to secure the services of a Pipe Major. They were indeed fortunate to select the finest piper on the North American continent, Mr Robert Ireland, who came from New York City to take up his position in Toronto.
Under Mr Ireland, the 48th Band became an inter-nationally famous pipe band. Mr Ireland, remembered for his composition "Lt Colonel John I Davidson March," was succeeded in 1895 by Pipe Major Norman MacSwayed. Mr MacSwayed was well known and respected as a military trained piper and a thoroughly capable leader.
In 1898, Pipe Major MacSwayed returned to Scotland and was replaced by Mr Farquhar Beaton. As Pipe Major, Mr Beaton raised the establishment of the band to twenty-three members, including sixteen pipers and seven drummers. Mr Beaton maintained the efficiency of the band through the early years of this century by indefatigable practice. There were four practices each week, two for pipers under training and two for band rehearsals for his advanced pipers. Mr Beaton introduced part playing into his pipe band, having pipers play four parts, the melody, alto, tenor and brass, a practice that he had borrowed from Scotland and was unknown in Canada. The idea was developed by Mr Beaton from an encounter he had with the Earl of Aberdeen, who was an ardent admirer of bagpipes. The Earl was publicly entertained in Toronto at the Ontario Legislature Buildings prior to his departure from Canada on the expiry of his term as Governor General in September 1898. The pipe band of the 48th was in attendance at the ceremonies. Pipe Major Beaton and one of his pipers played in concert the first and second parts of the tune "Green Hills of Tyrol." The effect produced was at once noted by the Earl, who complemented the Pipe Major personally and strongly recommended the cultivation of part playing on the pipes.
The next Pipe Major of the 48th was James R. Fraser who assumed the position in 1913 and remained at the helm of the band until 1952. During the entire time P/M Fraser served, he remained in the Militia at the University Armoury in Toronto. In both wars, when the pipe band accompanied the Regiment to Europe, they were considerably augmented and sometimes had more than one Pipe Major. In World War 1, the 48th raised three battalions for overseas service each with its own pipe band. Pipe Major Fraser's function in both wars was to train pipers for active service and for the band of the Militia Battalion in Toronto. In World War 2 there are said to have been no less than seven 48th Highlanders Pipe Bands serving at various locations in Canada, in addition to the bands with the 1st Battalion overseas and the 2nd Battalion in Toronto. Canadian war time records of military establishment indicated that Number 20 Canadian Infantry Basic Training Centre, Brantford, Ontario, was commanded by a 48th Highlanders officer, and had a 48th Highlanders Pipe Band.
The 48th Band, under P/M Fraser, consistently won honours and awards in performance and competition. In 1949, the People's Journal of Dundee Scotland surprised the United Kingdom piping community when it said that the 48th Highlanders Pipe Band of Canada had "out piped Scotland." This recognition, in the land of the heather, was echoed at home when, in 1950, the Canadian Army reported that the 48th Pipe Band was rated the most efficient of all Militia Bands in Canada, including military brass, bugle, fifes or pipes. This was certainly applause indeed for this outstanding musical organization and the Regiment added their congratulations to both P/M Fraser and his band. Between 1946 and 1950, the 48th Band won 33 awards in competition, filling their trophy room to capacity.
Pipe Major Fraser retired after 39 years service to the Regiment in 1952 and a special night was staged in his honour with pipers rallying from everywhere. The Toronto Telegram for 21 February 1952 reported that, "the massed Pipes put on a breathtaking show to honour Fraser. It was a great night for the Prince of Pipers."
Pipe Major Fraser was replaced by one of his students, Archie Dewar, who retained the position until 1965 and led the band to many victories in competition. Subsequent Pipe Majors have been Ross Stewart 1965-75 and Ray MacKay, who still holds the position in the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. The Band continues to maintain the distinction of being the largest pipe band in the Commonwealth performing a variety of military and civilian functions.
The history of the Cameron Highlanders Pipe Band of Ottawa, since it was organized during World War 1, has been studded with many memorable occasions and ceremonies. The 1st Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders was stationed in Iceland from July 1940 until being posted to Scotland in May 1941. While in Iceland, the pipe band, under P/M Peter MacLeod, did much toward cementing friendship with a country not reconciled to the occupation of their shores. The band arrived on July 1st, 1940, and marched through Reykjavik from quayside to the staging camp playing "O'er the Sea to Skye." This was the first Highland pipe band to perform in Iceland and the music brought out throngs of listeners.
The Band departed in 1941 leaving behind a host of followers among the Icelanders and a legacy of appreciation for pipe bands that still exists today. The band arrived on British soil on May 1st, 1941. Their march past "Pibroch of Donald Dhu" will always be associated with the many ceremonial parades and inspections when dignitaries of all ranks, including King George, witnessed the Cameronís on parade.
The Band appeared with their namesakes in a special officer's mess dinner held on August 3rd, 1944. The Pipes and Drums of the 5th Own Highlanders joined the Cameron Highlanders of Canada at Les Buissons, France, in a memorable concert.
The Pipe Band will be remembered for the unique and historic occasions when they beat retreat at Headquarters of the Canadian Infantry Division, in Nijmegan, Holland. The most stirring and historic moment for the Cameronís came when they hit the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, when the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa touched down, well up in the forefront of the assault. The sounds of the highly spirited march "Cameron Men" could be heard above the sounds of the battle.
The Cameronís still continue to be an institution in Canada's capital city and are seen virtually at every important ceremonial occasion. Until recently the Pipe Major was CWO Jack Coghill.
The pipe bands of Canada's Black Watch have an enviable reputation for longevity and accomplishment. The first authorized band was organized under Pipe Major Duncan Weir in Montreal, in 1876. He was followed by Pipe Majors J. Duncan, 1879-1880, and J. Matheson, 1881-1897. Some of their early highlights included performances in 1887 and 1897 for Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebrations. The Band was part of the Canadian detachment that went overseas for a World Royal Pageant with Commonwealth troops from all over the world taking part in an outstanding military display.
In 1896, the Band journeyed to New York as goodwill ambassadors to take part in a musical festival with the 7th Regiment National Guard of the United States. In 1901, the pipe band adopted the Royal Stewart tartan and later completed the regulation Black Watch uniform by adopting the badges and sporran.
With the outbreak of the First World War, the first contingent of Royal Highlanders was raised in Montreal and sailed on February 13th, l915. They arrived at St Nazaire, France. The landing is shown in a contemporary war painting, by Edgar Bundy, depicting the pipes and drums of the 13th RHC, under P/M Grey, leading the battalion ashore. A pipe band was also organized for the 73rd Battalion under P/M A.J. Saunders, formerly of the Highland Light Infantry of Scotland. The 73rd was recruited to provide an active third battalion for the RHC to go overseas.
Several members of the original pre-war pipe band were killed during the war and some received medals for gallantry under fire. At the end of the war in November, 1918, the Black Watch was visited by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward) and he inspected the Pipe Band under Pipe Major Grey.
In 1925, the Regiment returned to New York City for appearances in the American Memorial Day parades. The unit was joined in New York for the big parade by the Regimental Pipes and Drums, twenty-eight strong, under Maj W. Johnson.
On January 23rd, 1928, the Pipes and Drums left Montreal by train bound for Baltimore, Maryland, where they were guests for the St Andrew's Societies of Baltimore and Washington. Upon arrival they were met at the station by the Band of the 12th United States Infantry and, joining up with this unit, they marched to the City Hall to be welcomed by the Mayor of Baltimore. The following day, at the Lyric Theatre, before a large audience, the Pipes and Drums, in review order, gave a Burn's Night Performance under the auspices of their sponsors with highland dancing, music and song. Later in May, the Band journeyed to New York City to take part in the Empire Day celebration of various British organizations in the American metropolis.
During the period between the wars, the Regimental Pipe Band of the Black Watch was particularly strong both in numbers and proficiency. Many of the pipers and drummers who had served with the Regiment's battalions, rejoined in the Militia unit and, as well, a number of younger men were added. One of the latter, Piper Hector McDonald, in August 1934, at the 5th Highland at Banff, Alberta won the first prize in the open matches. One of the highlights of the pipe band was their appearance in 1932 at the New York Opera House. The Band was featured as special guests in a gala performance for the British War Veterans of America. There were many stars with whom RHC Pipe Band shared the stage including Beatrice Lillie, Rudy Vallee and the Regiment's own veteran Robert E. Sherwood.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, in 1939, pipers serving in the Black Watch of Canada were incorporated into the overseas unit that arrived in September 1940. The Pipe Band was reformed in the United Kingdom and remained with the unit throughout the war.
In May 1951, the Black Watch was authorized to have two active service battalions and the Reserve Force unit was designated the 3rd Battalion. The Regular Force units were allocated positions for a Pipe Major and NCO/Drummer. This enabled each of the active battalions to have pipe bands. The reserve battalion maintained a pipe band at Regimental Headquarters in Montreal.
Both Regular Force pipe bands were very much in demand during the period of 1955 to 1958. They combined on several occasions and in 1955 sailed to England where they represented the Canadian Army in the Edinburgh Tattoo. The Band, which included thirty-eight pipers and drummers, also appeared at the British Military Tattoo at Copenhagen, Denmark. This military spectacle took place on the lawn in front of the Life Guards Barracks and was played before capacity audiences with as many as fourteen thousand spectators for each of the fourteen performances.
In 1956, the combined pipe bands flew to Bermuda to take part in the Island's Military Tattoo that was repeated in 1957. The bands were made part of the October 1957 State Visit of Queen Elizabeth to Washington. In 1958, the combined pipe bands flew to Massachusetts for a week of engagements at the annual carnival of the Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod and again attracted large crowds of spectators.
During 1959 and again in 1961, the Pipes and Drums of the 2nd Black Watch had a number of unusual trips. In 1959, they performed at the United States Air Force Base at Lowering Maine, as well as for the American Independence Day ceremonies in Calais. The Band went to the Pacific coast in July 1961 for the Vancouver Searchlight Tattoo at Empire Stadium. Both Battalion Pipe Bands were well represented in the 1967 Canadian Forces Tattoo.
The Regular Battalion of the Black Watch was disbanded on June 1st, 1970, as part of the Defence Department integration of the Canadian Forces. The Pipe Band was redesignated the Royal Canadian Regiment Pipe Band and is still flourishing in Gagetown, New Brunswick.
The Calgary Regiment, 10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders, known as the "Fighting Tenth" was formed in 1914 and served overseas during the First World War. The first pipe band was formed in 1921 by Pipe Major W. Piper. The band paraded at the Regimental Anniversary Parade on April 22nd and was active in all militia training functions including army training at Banff, in 1923. The popularity of the Band grew and they appeared in 1932 at the Calgary Stampede as well as many other civilian engagements. The Highlanders joined with the various other pipe bands and military bands including the 50th Battalions Bands in presenting a massed band concert at the exhibition grounds on the evenings of July 1st and 5th, 1932.
In 1931, it was reported that the pipe band, which had 23 members, had attained a high general standard due to the efforts of P/M W. Pow and Sgt Drummer J. Fox. The Pipe Band took part in the Highland Gathering at Banff later that year as well as the Stampede Parade.
On May 6th, 1935, at the 25th Anniversary of the reign of King George V, the 10th Battalion participated in a mass parade of military units at Victoria Park. The Calgary Highlander Pipe Band formed up on the right of the Garrison Band and the Band played during the march past under the direction of Sgt Maj W.R. Herbert of the 50th Battalion.
Further honours came to the Pipe Band in May 1939, when the Highlanders formed the honour guard for the visit of Their Majesties to Calgary. The Guard and Pipe Band also were rushed to Edmonton by train to participate in arrival ceremonies there. Later that year, R.B. Bennett, Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, presented the band with uniforms and 12 sets of bagpipes. In March of 1940, the band was fully equipped with the donation of side drums and sticks by an Alberta commercial laundry firm.
At the outbreak of World War Two, the militia band folded and the Commanding Officer sent the Pipe Major to Edmonton where he recruited the Edmonton Pipe Band. The Regiment trained in Shilo in preparation for posting overseas. The Pipe Band during this period was in great demand.
During the Pipe Bands sojourn in Shilo, the Commanding Officer, Colonel Scott, requested permission for the unit to have Piper Malcolm R MacCrimmon wear the MacLeod tartan attached to his pipes, while a member of the band. The permission was granted. When the Regiment went to England the Band presented many public performances at Aldershot, where they were stationed. They appeared, also, at Bristol following its near destruction from Nazi bombing. The highlight for the Band was a broadcast over the BBC. The Pipe Major for the band was Sgt Neil Sutherland who was an award winning piper from Scotland.
Following D-Day, the band accompanied the Calgary Regiment on it's drive through Western Europe, returning triumphantly to Calgary on November 24th, 1945, to a civic welcome and a parade from the CPR station to the Mewata Armouries.
Since the war the Calgary Highlanders Pipe Band has appeared at numerous military and civilian functions and performs annually in the Calgary Stampede Parade. The band is in constant demand for competitions and continues to be a source of pride to the Calgary Regiment.
The RCAF Rockcliffe Pipe Band was formed and officially approved by the RCAF in 1951. The Band was organized as a volunteer group, its members, apart from three instructors, were tradesmen representing many occupational fields of the RCAF. The majority of the band members had little or no musical experience before joining the RCAF. The band appeared and competed at many pipe band competitions in Eastern Canada and in the United States. Apart from competitions the Band performed at several military and civil functions in Canada and the United States. The first Pipe Major of the Rockcliffe Band was F/Sgt John MacKenzie. He had an extensive background in the United Kingdom as a military piper and joined the RCAF in 1952. MacKenzie was replaced by Canadian Guards P/M Archie Cairns in 1968. The Rockcliffe Pipe Band was renamed in 1968 and designed the Canadian Forces Base Ottawa Pipe Band, and the bond of association widened to permit civil servants and dependants of military personnel to be members. The Pipe Band is now directed by P/M Master Warrant Officer Hugh McPherson and in 1994 was renamed the National Defence Headquarters Pipe Band. The senior pipe major of the Canadian Forces is Chief Warrant Officer Fred Alderman
At present, there are twenty-three authorized pipe bands for the Reserve Forces of Canada and eleven pipe bands for the Regular Force units in Canada and Germany. The Regular Force pipe bands are voluntary units with small cadres of professional pipers and drummers providing instruction and leadership. The military pipes and drums movement continue to flourish in Canada. The bands and band members are particularly noted for their appearance in Pipe and Drumming competitions across Canada.