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The Beaton Family, St. Andrew's/Benbecula

Beaton family500The Beaton family lived and played in the Moosomin area, at Scottish settlements called St. Andrew's and Benbecula. This photo was kindly provided by piper Jamie Simpson, a descendant of the Beatons, 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.

See article.

The following notes on Norman Beaton are taken from the pipe music book Along the Road.

Norman Beaton

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.

beaton bag


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 Canada [Winnipeg] during World War II. Many prairie pipers played these durable, cowhide bags made by Norman and Willie, and Willie also made seasoning to go with them--a traditional mixture of honey and glycerine. The bag pictured here was made in 1970 [that's Willie's writing on the bag] and was replaced in 2007.

Andy Mackintosh, Saskatoon


mackintoshEnclosed 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.]


 Christmas1944 sm


Click for larger image | Another photo of the same dance

Pipe-Major Hugh Fraser

[Biographical information from the Saskatoon Police Pipes & Drums web site]

hugh donIn 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

John Hosie 1881 – 1966

John Hosie was born in Alford, Aberdeenshire Scotland January 7th 1881. He immigrated to Canada in 1903 and settle in Glenboro, Manitoba. In 1904 he came west to Lumsden in search of a homestead which he found in the Silton District and this was his home till 1958. He found himself in the centre of many Scotsmen and he knew this was home. He returned to Scotland and came back home with a bride, Jean Clark in 1910.

His second love, the pipes and he played at all the local events and even formed a 3 man band with his brother Bob Hosie and a neighbour Jimmie Gill. His fame spread throughout the province and he entered many contests but more than that met many “pipers” and bagpipe “lovers”. John was a member of the Silton United Church and the Orangeman’s Lodge. He was also a Board member of the Thorncliffe School District.

He retired to Lumsden in 1958. Death of his wife, poor health and arthritis curbed his activities and he passed on January 5, 1966.

The memories and the friendship of his piper friends and loyal neighbors eased the pain of last few years but the pipes languished and deteriorated in their sturdy box. His son Lewis Hosie and his family were determined that this heritage must survive. Finally Iain MacDonald came to our rescue. He not only restored them but searched the history of them plus a recording of John’s later concerts and details of his many achievements. 1908 was etched on the pipes and Iain says it was likely one of the last set of pipes this company made before moving on to Australia. They are beautiful but very fragile, but Iain played for us and it brought the most beautiful memories back. Now we live in the hopes that a grandson or granddaughter will carry the “torch”.

(H. Steiner, grandaughter)

screen shot history
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john hosie news article
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john hosie history notes

James L. McWilliams


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., where I 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.  I served on the executive of the B.C. Pipers Association for a number of years..

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 (Pipe Staff-Sergeant)

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