Saskatchewan Pipers & Band Musicians
There are many Saskatchewan players who have contributed to maintaining Highland culture
in a distinctly non-Highland environment. This is not meant to be comprehensive, but we have
added people we know about. Can you supply photos or biographical information?
Beaton Family [St. Andrews] | Neil Sutherland | Andrew McAnsh | Angus Spence | Willie MacGregor
Jock Chalmers | George Crawford | Duncan Fisher | Tom Ireland | Andy Mackintosh
Howard Chamberlain | John Hosie | Hugh Fraser| Jimmy Walker | Jim McWilliams
Pipe Major Neil Sutherland
[This biography from The Calgary Highlanders web site.]
Neil Sutherland was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1904 and learned piping from his father and Archie MacNeill, the uncle of Seamus MacNeill (famous founder of the College of Piping). Neil served with the 139th Boys Brigade Pipe Band before the family emigrated to Winnipeg in 1914. Sutherland instructed the 12th Signals Pipe Band, and served in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada for eight years before moving to Saskatchewan and joining the Regina Police. He organized a Regina Boys Pipe Band and won awards at the Banff Games two years running. He was given permanent custody of the Beatty Trophy and asked to return to Banff as an adjudicator.
By the 1930s, Sutherland had accepted a position as the chief of police in Melfort, Saskatchewan. That the Calgary Highlanders have always cultivated talent from unique sources is evidenced by the story of Alex Smart. In his capacity as Chief of Police, Sutherland one day had to arrest a hobo - Smart - in a railyard. Upon finding he was a piper, the hobo resided at the Chief's house instead of a jail cell.
When the Second World War started, Smart joined the Calgary Highlanders but Sutherland moved to Manitoba to serve with the Winnipeg Police. When the Highlanders moved to Camp Shilo, in Manitoba, Smart persuaded Sutherland to come and visit, and in the end convinced Sutherland to join the band.
When the battalion left Shilo for overseas, Heather - a black Scots Terrier belonging to Sutherland - accompanied them, smuggled in the band's bass drum. Heather didn't return from overseas - being left with a good family in the UK. A set of Sutherland's bagpipes also did not return home; they were destroyed when a shell hit an ammunition truck in Normandy in which they were being carried. By that time, Sutherland had been Pipe Major for two years, having taken over from Stoker in 1942.
Sutherland did very well on the courses he took while in the UK; Willie Ross, the Chief of Piping for the British Army in fact wanted Sutherland to stay in England after the war. But Sutherland returned to the Winnipeg Police, where he was Pipe Major from 1945 to 1970. He suffered a heart attack in 1972 and died of a stroke in 1973.
And the following letter from Neil Sutherland's nephew Ward Faulkner. We are also very grateful to Ward for the photos accompanying these articles.
My very good friend Ron MacLeod forwarded your request for information on Saskatchewan pipers and bands. My Uncle, Pipe Major Neil Sutherland of Winnipeg, Manitoba, was a resident of Saskatchewan during the late 1920's and early 1930's. During that time he served with the Regina City Police, the Saskatchewan Provincial Police and was also Chief of Police, Melfort, Saskatchewan. While living in Regina, Neil was one of the persons instrumental in the formation of the Regina Boy's Kiltie Band and the Regina Piobaireachd Society. During his time in Melfort, he was active with the Melfort Pipe Band. Neil left Saskatchewan during WWII when he enlisted with the Calgary Highlanders and served as P/M until the end of the war. Upon his return home, he joined the Winnipeg Police force and served as P/M City of Winnipeg Police Pipe Band for over twenty years.
During the late 1920's and while residing in Regina, Neil was recognized as one of Canada's premier pipers having won the Beatty trophy three consecutive years at the Banff Highland Gathering. The Gathering was sponsored by Canadian Pacific who also provided financial support for the annual participation of a leading piping competitor from Scotland. Followingwins on three consecutive years, Neil was asked to withdraw from competition and to serve with P/M Willie Fergusson, of Clan MacRae Pipe Band, as a member of the judging panel.
I am attaching a 1932 newspaper clipping describing a trip taken by ". . .the newly formed Regina Boy's Kiltie Band. . ." to North Dakota. P/M Neil Sutherland and others are mentioned in the text. I am also attaching a photograph of the first (Neil Sutherland, Regina), second (W. Campbell, Vancouver), and third (W. Pow, Calgary) place competitors for the Beatty Trophy - taken at the Banff Highland Gathering. I am uncertain which year this was taken. I also have in my possession Neil's original hand written notation (manuscript book) of pipe tunes that he used during the late 20's and early 30's with some of his original compositions - no photocopiers then! I'm attaching a sample of this manuscript book (it's too large for my scanner) - the tune is titled Col. Alexander Fraser's Welcome to Banff by N. Sutherland, Regina.
P/M Neil Sutherland was my mentor and piping instructor for many years while I attended the University of Manitoba. On January 1,1972, Neil suffered a near fatal heart attack while piping during the Winnipeg St. Andrews Society New Years Day Levee. The resulting oxygen deprivation caused neurological damage and, although he had a reasonably good recovery, he could no longer finger his beloved practise chanter. When we sat down to continue my piobaireachd lessons during his early recovery, he lamented sadly ". . . Ward, I can't even play a burl. . ." I told him not to worry, and " . . . just sing the tune. . ." Sing the tunes he did, and for the next year almost every Saturday afternoon was reserved for my piobaireachd lesson - with Neil singing and me playing on the practise chanter. He died on January 5, 1973 - almost a year to the day following his earlier heart attack. With his passing the family gave me his old original manuscript book and his hard-bound copy of the Piobaireachd Society books. The inside cover of the latter is autographed by many of the leading pipers of the day, including, J. S. Ramsay, Willie Ross, John Wilson, Wm. Fergusson, R.G. Hardie, e.t. al.
I am also attaching a copy of a Christmas card sent by Lt. Col. John McEwing. The front of the card had a photograph of Neil piping, and the inside provided associated text. I have many fond memories of my times with Neil and thought some ofthis information might be of value to you. I guess my point is that P/M Neil Sutherland of Winnipeg was also a Saskatchewan piper.
Please let me know if I may be of any assistance re your project.
Ward Falkner, Ph.D.
Andy McAnsh came to Canada with his family after World War II. He was an experienced piper, and once here he spent many years instructing young pipers in the 10th Signals Pipe Band, the Regina Boys & Girls Pipe Band, and the Springs of Heather Pipe Band. For many years, Andy was the administrator of the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts at Fort San, and he played a leading role in many activites related to pipe bands, including the Prairie Pipe Band Association.
Andy was shop teacher at Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in Regina, and he passed away suddenly in 1978. His bagpipe is on permanent loan to the Conservatory of Performing Arts in Regina.
Click here for large photo on Andy piping.
[more to come]
[Photos courtesy Jean Chose, Andy's daughter]
Angus was born on June 14, 1922 in Falkirk, Scotland. Het met his wife Gladwen while they were serving in the Royal Air Force. Following their marriage in 1945, Angus served in India, and they emigrated to Canada in 1948 and settled in Regina, where Angus worked in radio repair at SaskTel.
In 1947, he was a member of the Scottish pipe band that won the European Championship. [Angus with trophy.] Once in Regina, he joined the 2nd Independent Signal Corps Pipe Band, which later became the 10th Field Royal Canadian Artillery Pipe Band.
Angus served the 10th Field as a piper, pipe-sergeant and later as the pipe-major. He was a member of the local Wa Wa Shrine Pipe Band, and for many years he taught young pipers at the Fraser Pipe Band and the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts.
Angus was a very good player of light music, and taught piping technique well. He himself played a fine-sounding set of Thow Bagpipes, which had also been his brothers. Those pipes are now being played by a young piper in Regina.
Angus was a fantastic guy: kind, warm-hearted, fun-loving, and passionate about the pipes and piping. He retired from bands locally and for a number of years lived in Kelowna, British Columbia, where he was a member of the Kelowna Legion Pipe Band. He returned to Regina in 2005, and died in February, 2010.
[photos courtesy of Angus's family]
James L. McWilliams
[Biography from Jim's web site.]
At the age of eleven I joined the St. Andrew's Society Boy's Pipe Band in Moose Jaw. Six months later I made my first public appearance -- before Princess Elizabeth. Enthusiasm and the fine instruction of Pipe Major Bob Shepherd and Jim Carnegie of Belbeck, formerly of the Edinburgh City Police, brought me three Saskatchewan Junior Piping Championships.
After High School I joined the Canadian Army as a piper destined for the Black Watch of Canada, but ended up an officer in the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps. I eventually settled on a teaching career in Calgary. There I served as Band Officer of the 19th Medium Regiment which eventually became the Clan MacBain Pipe Band with which I played several years. I spent part of a summer at the Invermark School of Piping in New York State learning the basics of piobaireachd and earning their highest certificate. In 1962 I was honoured to be chosen as Chief Instructor of the Prairie Command School of Piping and Drumming at Currie Barracks. In later years I conducted workshops and schools in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Montana.
In 1967 I returned to my hometown of Moose Jaw where I remained for the next quarter century as a high school teacher. There I served as Band Director/Pipe Major of the White Hackle. During that time the band won the Provincial Championship over a dozen times, were International Champions, runner-up for the Eastern Canadian Championship, Third in the North American Championships (all in our only visit to Ontario), won the 1986 Expo Championship in Vancouver, and took Sixth in the European Championships. These events were in Third and Fourth Grades.
The White Hackle was well received in the U.S.A., England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, including invitational performances at two World's Fairs, Disney World, and a Command Performance for the Governor General of Canada. At the same time the band was earning an international reputation for showmanship and Fancy Drill, having won numerous competitions against pipe bands and huge marching bands.
I was co-founder of the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts and The Prairie Pipe Band Association and served in a variety of roles and executive positions from the 1960‘s to the 1990‘s. I wrote several pamphlets and articles on piping as well as being Editor of "The Bandsman", the newsletter of the Prairie Pipe Band Association. However, I am most proud of having taught piping and even bass and tenor-drumming to hundreds of youths, many of whom have gone on to do the same for the succeeding generations.
Like many pipers, I am addicted to composing, having churned out countless tunes to amuse myself. The last time I spoke with the late Donald MacLeod MBE he told me he intended to bring out a seventh book of pipe music and wanted permission to include six of my compositions. Of course, I was delighted and agreed. Unfortunately, Donald passed away months later, and his seventh book was never published. I never thought to ask him which tunes he wanted to use. Nevertheless, he did include two of my efforts in previous publications, as well as a fine 2/4 march he composed for me and a lovely slow air for my eldest son, Lachlan.
For many years I have been an adjudicator of Piping and Ensemble and even Bass-Tenor competitions in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, and Washington State.
In 1993 I left Moose Jaw to begin a new career as a retiree in Cloverdale, B.C., but have continued piping with The Delta Police Pipe Band, The White Spot Pipe Band, the Langley Legion Pipe Band, and the Vancouver Police Pipe Band. In associated music fields I am the piper for Tartan Pride Highland Dance Team, and enjoy playing a few tunes with the popular Celtic band, Blackthorn. Currently I serve on the executive of the B.C. Pipers Association.
The following is a list of the pipe bands with which I have been associated:
• The St. Andrews Society Boys' Pipe Band (Moose Jaw: piper)
• The Sprigs o' Heather Girls Pipe Band (Moose Jaw: Instructor of Piping, Tenor and Bass)
• The Pipes and Drums of The North Saskatchewan Regiment (Saskatoon: piper and drummer)
• The Pipes and Drums of The 19th Medium Regiment, RCA (Calgary: Band Officer)
• The Calgary Boy Scout Pipe Band (Band Director)
• The Innisfail Legion Pipe Band (Instructor)
• The Clan MacBain Pipe Band (Calgary: piper)
• The Calgary Scottish (piper)
• The Pipes and Drums of The Calgary Highlanders (Pipe Major -- probably the shortest term ever)
• The White Hackle (Moose Jaw: Band Director/Pipe Major)
• The Clansmen Pipe Band (South Saskatchewan: Pipe Major)
• The Pipes and Drums of The 10th Field Regiment, RCA (Regina: Band Officer)
• The Delta Police Pipe Band (Staff-Sergeant Piper)
• The White Spot Pipe Band (Band Director)
• The Langley Legion Pipe Band (piper)
• The Vancouver Police Pipe Band (piper)
Pipe Major Hugh Fraser
[Biographical information from the Saskatoon Police Pipes & Drums web site]
In 1938, at age 16, Hugh joined the Saskatoon Light Infantry and during his training in Vernon, B.C. he met another champion piper, William Barrie who gave Hugh a set of pipes and continued with his lessons. Hugh went overseas in 1943 and transferred to the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg. Upon his arrival home, Hugh re-joined the SLI Militia and was appointed Pipe Major serving in this position until 1980. Hugh received many medals and honors including the Military Medal of Merit (MMM) by Governor-General Jules Leger and was the first person in the SLI to receive the Canadian Decoration (CD). Hugh also had the honor of playing the Lament for the Right Honorable John G. Diefenbaker's funeral. In 1946 Hugh joined the Saskatoon Police Department and in just four years was promoted to Detective. Hugh rose quickly through the ranks and was promoted to Deputy Chief of Operations in 1974. During his police career he was awarded the Police Long Service Medal, the Bronze and Silver Bar and the Gold Bar for 35 years service. Hugh contributed greatly to the piping community in Saskatchewan, starting the Saskatoon Girls Pipe Band in 1956 and the Saskatoon Police Pipes and Drums in 1961. He also gave his time generously as an instructor for the 96th Highlanders. His countless hours of instruction and assistance to students and bands have ensure that a great many people in Saskatchewan enjoy playing the same music that Hugh loved so much.
Hugh Fraser [right] and brother Don McDonald in 1960.
|John Hosie, Silton
[Biographical information still to come]
Andy Mackintosh, Saskatoon
Enclosed is a picture that may be of some interest. It was taken on Christmas Day 1944, and the piper is my father, A.(Andy) Mackintosh. He grew up on The Heights of Fodarty, Invernesshire, and went to school in Strathpeffer. He served in the merchant navy from 1937 to 1947 and some of his ships were the T.S.S. City of Edinburgh, S. S. Antonio and the Cordillera. He spent most of the war years travelling the North Atlantic, however based on the picture, must have been in some warmer climates part of the time, possibly near Montevideo. After emigrating to Canada in 1947 he played with the 10th Artillery, Regina, Saskatchewan and later the 2nd North Saskatchewan Regiment in Saskatoon. He took his piping lessons from PM. Alexander Ross, Willie’s brother. I remember him talking of Ross, MacLennan, Burgess and Reid.
[The above was from a letter written to and published in The Piping Times. It was written by Dave Mackintosh, a long-time piper from the Saskatoon area.]
Click for larger image | Another photo of the same dance
The Beaton Family, St. Andrew's/Benbecula
The Beaton family lived and played in the Moosomin area, at Scottish settlements called St. Andrew's and Benbecula. This photo was kindlr provided by piper Jamie Simpson, a descendant of the Beations, who grew up in the Dauphin [MB] Pipe Band.
Pictured are: Norman Beaton, along with Gordon, Ian, Alex and Malcolm.
The following quote is from " A Short History of the Pioneer Scotch Settlers of St. Andrews, Saskatchewan" by James N. MacKinnon, and describes Norman's parents and family, and their settlement in St. Andrews.
The following notes on Norman Beaton are taken from the pipe music book Along the Road.
Norman Beaton came to Saskatchewan around 1885 from Griminish, Benbecula at about the age of three. His father was from the Scottish mainland, and had married Christina McRury, a sister of the well-known Gaelic scholar the Rev. John McRury of Skye. Norman married a local Wapella girl in Saskatchewan, and spent most of his adult life in Moosomin, Red Jacket, and later Brandon, Manitoba. As well as being a piper and composer, Norman was well-known for the “Beaton pipe bag” and was thought to be the inventor of the “swan neck” pipe bag. Norman’s tune Mrs. Mary Beaton was written for his wife.
The making of "Beaton" pipe bags was taken over by P-M Bill MacLeod of Winnipeg, later Pine Falls, Manitoba. Bill or "Willie" Macleod was Norman's son-in-law, and served as pipe-major of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg during World War II. Many prairie pipers played these durable, cowhide bags made by Norman and Willie, and Willie also made season to go with them--a traditional mixture of honey and glycerine.
Jimmy Walker [1935-2008]
This brief tribute appeared on pipes|drums at the time of his death.
The Saskatchewan pipe band community lost one of its best this week as James “Jimmy” Walker died at the age of 73. Jimmy Walker was an imposing figure in Saskatoon for many years, and he was responsible for teaching many fine drummers.
Born in 1935 in Fife, Scotland, Jimmy grew up drumming in the Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band, and won many solo drumming prizes as a young man there. He was one of a number of leading Scottish players who were recruited to play in the Powell River Pipe Band with his life-long buddy Geordie Pryde, who was the L-D at Powell River. Jimmy was one of the key players in that very successful corps, and continued to win solo prizes on this side of the Atlantic.
Jimmy left Powell River and came to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to work with the Saskatoon Fire Department, and there fell in with P-M Hugh Fraser and the Saskatoon Police Pipe Band and the North Saskatchewan Regiment Pipes & Drums. He was L-D for those bands for many years, and also an instructor to the Saskatoon Boys Pipe Band, the [Moose Jaw] Sprigs O’ Heather, and at summer schools at Fort San. Jimmy Walker loved pipe bands and drumming, and he inspired many young players over the years with his own ability, and also with his teaching.
His best-known students include his son, Jim Walker Jr., who played with the Saskatoon Boys Pipe Band, the Saskatoon Police, and was also the L-D of the Edmonton Scottish Pipe Band with P-M Neil Dickie. In the Late 1980s, Jim Jr. moved to Scotland, and took up playing with Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band, where he was L-D for some time. He was also the drummer for Celtic band “Ceol Beag” and makes his living teaching and performing various kinds of drumming.
Another student of Jimmy’s was John Fisher, currently the L-D for the new Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band, and a world-renown drummer in both mainstream and pipe band circles. John’s many drumming accomplishments are well known, from being L-D of City of Victoria and the Frasers, to being a member of Alex Duthart’s drum corps in some of its best years.
Jimmy’s long-time students in Saskatoon carry on the tradition of teaching and performing with many Saskatoon pipe bands, and his legacy will continue there. On behalf of all Saskatchewan pipe band enthusiasts, our condolences to Jimmy’s family and friends.
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