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The SPBA online archive.

William MacDonald [1891-1992]

piper[Information and photos from family web site.]

William MacDonald was born April 26, 1891 in Rossal, Rogart, Sutherland, Scotland. He attended Balvraid School where he appeared in an 1898 Class photo.

William MacDonald His parents were Neil MacDonald (18?? - 1903 est) a quarrier of Pittentrail, Rogart and Christina Sutherland (1872 - 1950) of Torboll, Dornoch. They were married January 24, 1890 at West Church Manse, Inverness.

Willie MacDonald moved his young family to the Yellowgrass area, and farmed near Weyburn for many years. He was a part of the Weyburn Pipe Band, and his son Bill MacDonald also played the pipes.

[More to come]



Nellie [Forrest] Dunville

nellie forrest dunvilleNellie (Forrest) Dunville was the daughter of James Forrest, and she learned to play pipes from her father and others in the Prince Albert Girls Pipe Band. Nellie decided in 1942 to join the Canadian Women's Army Corps, and she and a friend took the train from Prince Albert to Regina to sign up. Sometime after that, the CWAC Pipe Band, led by P-M Liilian Grant, came through Saskatchewan on a cross-Canada tour, and Nellie was convinced to sign up. She played with the band across Canada, until illness took her out of the lineup.


At right, Nellie in her CWAC uniform, and below, the CWAC Pipe Band on parade. Photos from Saskatchewan Folklore Magazine, Fall 2004.


Here is an article written by Nellie for the Fall 2004 editrion of "Saskatchewan Folklore".


Article on SK female pipers in the CWAC Pipe Band, 1940s


nellie forrest cwac

SPBA Summer School

History of the SPBA Summer School

In the mid-1960s a well-known piper from Moose Jaw started a small school of piping and drumming in that city. Jim McWilliams had trained as a piper with Bob Shepherd and Jim Carnegie in Moose Jaw, and had an appreciation for the benefits of piping schools based on some experience with the Canadian Army and through attending the Invermark school in New York.  With the help of Hugh Scott of Moose Jaw, he started a small summer program.


At about the same time, the Government of Saskatchewan had decided to turn the old Tuberculosis Sanatorium—Fort San— in the Qu'Appelle Valley into a summer school of the arts. In 1967, The Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts had its first piping and drumming session at the new facility, and it was a great hit.


In the years that followed, a lot of work was done to ensure that local students would receive a rounded education in piping and drumming. The school set up a series of certificate exams based on the requirements of the famous Army School of Piping in Edinburgh, and these certificate levels stood as the basis of instruction for many years at the school.


For the school's second year, Pipe Major Donald MacLeod was hired. This was the beginning of a long-term relationship with one of the century's greatest all-round pipers. Donald MacLeod was a legend in his own time. He was a decorated veteran of the war, a multiple winner of every prize offered, a gifted composer of both light music and piobaireachd, and the owner of Grainger and Campbell, one of Scotland's premier bagpipe makers at the time. It also turned out that he was an inspiring teacher, a recitalist without equal, and a charming, gentle man who related well to everyone he met. Donald MacLeod taught at the school from 1968 to 1981, and he died suddenly in 1982.


For many years, the school's primary drumming instructor was ex-Shotts lead drummer and Canadian Forces drumming instructor, MWO John Kerr. John Kerr influenced many leading drummers, and he was instrumental in converting prairie drummers to written scores, from the old-fashioned method of "try to play what I do." John was extremely forceful in his views that drummers should be "musicians first," and his direction at the school helped to formulate many of our best musicians on drums.


In the mid-1980s, the Government of Saskatchewan responded to budget pressures by cutting a number of programs and services in the province, including arts subsidies and maintenance of the Fort San facility. The arts community scattered to find other venues for the school, and for a couple of years the Piping and Drumming School was held in Saskatoon. The school operated in Saskatoon for a couple of years with mostly local instructors, and then stopped operations for about three years.


In 1994, the Saskatchewan Pipe Band Association decided to re-establish a summer school program, and had several successful sessions in its current location in Regina. Following 2002, the instructional program was completely redesigned to meet the needs of SPBA members and bands, and also to incorporate more fully modern instructional methods and Institute of Piping curriculum.

Fort San, August 17, 1967
L-R: Hugh Scott (MJ), school administrator;
Andy McAnsh, Bill MacLeod, Jim McWilliams, Angus Spence

L-R: Andy McAnsh, Jim McWilliams, John MacLellan, Angus Spence
In 1967, the school was held at the Fort San facility for the first time.
Capt. John A. MacLellan was a visitor to the camp for a couple of days.
In those days, the school was 14 days long, and the Capt. was there long enough to play a recital,
teach some tunes, and have a visit with instructors.


school 1968 lg


The Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, 1968
Piping Instructors: James L. McWilliams (back row, left); Angus Spence (back row, far right);
P/M Wm. MacLeod (middle row, 2nd from right); P/M Donald MacLeod (front row, far right).
Drumming Instructors: Geordie Pryde (middle row, far left); Irene Scott (front row, far left).
School Administrator: Hugh Scott (middle row, far left)

Click for larger view.

1970 school sm

The 1970 Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts
[photo: Lorne Adams]

Click for LARGE view.

Instructors include the famous Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, MBE 
and Geordie Pryde, a former member of the Edinburgh Police and the L/D of the well-known Powell River Pipe Band.

The 1971 Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts
[photo and program: Lorne Adams]

Click for LARGE view.

There are some pretty well-known faces from the piping world in this photo.
See if you can find Jack Lee, Jamie Troy and John Fisher.

Here is the program from the final concert: page 1 | page 2 | page 3


Pipe and Drum Instructors - Fort San, SK 1972
(L-R) P/M Donald MacLeod, MBE; Jeff McMurdo, Barry McMurdo, Fred MacLeod, Doug Lutz, Barry Robinson,
Jimmy Catherwood, Randy McNichol, Rod Sim, Andy McAnsh, Bill MacLeod, Jim McWilliams, Irene Scott.

fortsan 1973
 fortsan instructors 1973

Fort San Instructors 1973

L-R: P-M Donald MacLeod, M.B.E., Doug Lutz, P-M Andy McAnsh, Rod Sim, Barry Robinson, James Catherwood, Bruce MacDonald, Randy McNichol, Dave McNichol, Jeff McMurdo, P-M Willie MacLeod, Jim McWilliams, George Crawford.


click photo for larger view

The Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, 1974
In this photo are P/M Donald MacLeod, MBE and the well-known Shotts drummer Bert Barr. Also here are John Fisher (L/D of City of Victoria/member of Shotts corps, and well-known drummer and instructor; Garth Neel, winner of the Marches at Inverness in the 1970s; Dave Hennigan, member of City of Victoria Pipe Band; Iain MacDonald, member of Babcock-Renfrew PB and SFU Pipe Band, now City of Regina PB; Roland Reid, member of McNish Distillery corps under John Kerr, later won the Worlds with SFU; Jimmy Walker, member and later L/D of Dysart & Dundonald; Graham Neill, P/M of Edmonton Caledonian; Dave McNicholl, originally from Winnipeg, was the first L/D of City of Victoria PB; Barbara (McDougall) MacDonald, member of SFU Pipe Band, now CRPB.

fortsan 1975


Pipe and Drum Instructors - Fort San, SK 1975
[Photo: Hugh Fraser]

 (L-R) P/M Donald MacLeod, MBE; James L. McWilliams, Hugh Fraser, Jr., Ken Ramsay, Barry Robinson, Bruce Lutz, 

Sheriff Sandy MacPherson (Glasgow); Andy McAnsh; P/M Alex Cupples, P/M William MacLeod

 Fort San 1976
instructors 1976

 Fort San Instructors - 1976

L-R: P-M Donald MacLeod, M.B.E.; P-M Willie MacLeod; P-M Alex Cupples; Bruce MacDonald; Garth Neel; WO John Kerr; Ken Ramsay; Andy McAnsh, Jim McWilliams; Tommy Thompson.


1978 school
[Photo: Blair Brown]

1978 Instructors
Back Row, L-R: Rob Rife, Garth Neel, Blair Brown, John Kellet
Middle, L-R: Roger Yule, Hugh Sutherland, Dave Neil, Barry Robinson
Front, L-R: Tommy Thompson, John Kerr, Willie MacLeod, Donald Mitchell
[Photo: Blair Brown]

1979 School
[Photo: Blair Brown]


1979 Instructors

Back Row, L-R: Tom McGurk, Tommy Thompson, Don Mitchell, Jimmy MacGregor, Rob Rife, Barry Robinson
Front, L-R: John Kerr, John Kellet, Blair Brown, Dave Neil, Willie MacLeod, Hugh Sutherland
[Photo: Blair Brown]


1980 School
[Photo: Blair Brown]

1980 Instructors

L-R: Blair Brown, John Kerr, Barry Robinson, Neil Burkett, Don Mitchell, Andrea Eresman, Jim McWilliams
Tommy Thompson, Mary Ann Houston, Tim Coffey, Jimmy MacGregor, Willie MacLeod
[Photo: Blair Brown]


1981 School
[Photo: Blair Brown]


1981 Instructors

L-R: Blair Brown, George Reid, Gerry Radford, Tommy Thompson, Don Mitchell, Andrea Eresman, Jim McWilliams,
Donald MacLeod, Willie MacLeod, Barry Robinson, Barry McMurdo, Roland Reid
[Photo: Blair Brown]

James Forrest

jim forrest veteransJames Forrest was born in Banffshire, Scotland at the end of the 1800s, and he arrived in Saskatchewan before World War I, after having been in Australia, Fiji, and Hawaii. He came to Saskatchewan to farm, and when war broke out he tried to enlist at Moose Jaw, but was informed there was no kilted regiment for him. So, he went back to Scotland, joined his old regiment, and ended up on the battlefields of Flanders with the Gordon Highlanders, where he was wounded. Jim Forrest married his Scottish love and returned to Canada, eventually settling in Prince Albert, where he farmed, worked at the PA Jail, and was part of the Veteran's Guard during World War 2. All throughout his life, the pipes were a mainstay of his life, and he taught pipers, organized pipe bands, and eventually passed on his love of piping to his family.

James published an autobiographical novel in 1967 called Hamish McIver, the Gregarious Immigrant [Carlton Press Inc., New York], and he also published a collection of his poetry called Rhymes of the Wandering Piper. The SPBA is very grateful to James' son-in-law Stan Dunville for loaning copies of the publications for us to see.

The Prince Albert Historical Society has gone through their holdings, and provided information on Jim Forrest and his activities, including this letter, which was written by his daughter,, Nellie (Forrest) Dunville about his work at the PA Jail. In the photo at right, Jim is in the uniform of the Veteran's Guard. Here you can see him in the uniform of the Prince Albert Jail.





forrest book coverforrest book back

The book describes the life adventures of "Hamish McIver," in reality James Forrest. In the Foreward, noted Saskatchewan educator Hugh R. Thompson says, "For those many readers who can never meet the author my sympathy, for Mr. Forrest lives, as he writes, in a simple, honest, direct fashion enjoying the good things of life, facing difficult times and, above all, seeing himself and other members of Homo Sapiens with a wry puckish sense of humour that makes this tale altogether a delightful experience and a lasting monument to the final good in all things."


rhymes cover


This little paperback, like his novel, was dedicated to his wife. In it are poems that he wrote about many of the defining experiences of his life: leaving Scotland, life in Australia, World War 1, farming on the prairies, the Veteran Guard, the Prince Albert Jail, and of course many poems written for friends and acquaintances, and to capture stories of the day. Below we have reproduced the poem he wrote about piping.




Jimmy Walker [1935-2008]

This brief tribute appeared on pipes|drums at the time of his death.

Jim WalkerThe 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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