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.
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
[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.
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. 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.
Falkirk Pipe Band with European Championship Trophy, 1947.
Angus with European Championship Trophy, 1947.
Angus as pipe-major of the 10th Field Regiment Pipes & Drums, Royal Canadian Artillery.
[photos courtesy of Angus's family]
We have three sources of information about Neil Sutherland. The firsts is a biography from The Calgary Highlanders web site, followed by a letter and information from Neil's nephew Ward Falkner, anf the final clippings from the Regina Leader were sourced by Dr. Alex MacDonald, Campion College, University of Regina.
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.