It’s no fun when you are booked to play at a wedding ceremony – and you’re the only one who shows up. It happens and it stinks after taking the time out of your day, driving to a venue and getting the pipes tuned and ready to play. But flakey brides, uptight mother-in-laws, poor directions, traffic jams and disorganized events are all part of the fabric when you’re a bagpiper in any city.
However, there are lighter moments that you can look back on and laugh.
Like the time I played at a Catholic funeral mass in North Vancouver a few years ago. The deceased was, according to the funeral director, the black sheep of the family. He attended Continue reading
The SFU Pipe Band is proud to announce a fundraising concert and ceilidh in support of Andrew Bonar with all proceeds going to the BC Cancer Foundation for brain cancer care and research. The concert will take place at 6:00 PM – 7:30 on March 28 at the SFU Theatre on Burnaby Mountain with the ceilidh following at 8PM at the Club Ilya in the Cornerstone building at SFU. The world champion SFU pipe band will be performing alongside the Heather Jolley Highland Dancers, of which Andrew’s daughter, Kate, is a member.
I learned many year ago not to boast about the often great weather in Vancouver.
It first dawned on me soon after I arrived in Vancouver that not everyone gets excited about a sunny, 15 degree day in February. The realization came while winter sailing in English Bay.
I was headed to Bowen Island with a group of friends, to participate and play pipes at the annual Robert Burns Supper at a local pub. With the sun shining down on us, a light breeze blowing and good friends, it was a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon in January. In my excitement, I called one of my brother’s in Nova Scotia to tell him about my sailing trip, the warm sun and beautiful day. He told me that was great and that he’d like to stay on the phone and chat but he and his sons had to go back outside and shovel snow – for the third time that day. I got the message, and have been conscious of my smugness ever since. Continue reading
Great story from Summerside, PEI about pipers helping out others. Check it out.
Pipers helping each other
Canmore Highland Games
From the world’s largest, to North America’s oldest, there are many great Scottish highland games around the world. To name just a few, the largest is the Cowal Highland Gathering in Scotland; in the US, there are the Pleasanton Games in California and the Grandfather Mountain Games in North Carolina and the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Antigonish Highland Games in Nova Scotia, the oldest continuous Games in North America). Continue reading
When the bagpiper plays the lament this year at cenotaphs in Vancouver and around the country on November 11, it will a poignant moment for many.
As most Canadian are well aware, we lost two soldiers recently on our own shores. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run over and killed as he departed a government office building in Quebec. The deranged attacker, who was later killed in a confrontation with police, was a Muslim convert who RCMP had investigated as an Islamic State sympathizer. Continue reading
BC Law Enforcement Memorial, 2014. Photo: Twitpic @bcRCMP
The sun shone again, for the 16th time in the 17 year history of the BC Law Enforcement memorial, commemorating those officers of the RCMP and all other police forces who lost their lives in the line of duty in British Columbia. This is an annual event that draws police members from all over British Columbia and Washington. A similar memorial is held in each province at the end of September, with a national memorial held in Ottawa.
This is also an opportunity for the three police pipe bands in the Lower Mainland to play for the honour guards and troops who march to remember their past colleagues. The RCMP E. Division Pipe Band, under Pipe Major Hugh Peden and Drum Major Rob Smith, led the bands to Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford today, followed by the Delta Police Pipe Band, under PM John Ralston and Drum Major J.P. DaSilva and the Vancouver Police Pipe Band, under PM Cal Davis.
A Rocky Mountaineer send-off
If you wear a kilt and play the bagpipes for thousands of visitors from around the English speaking world, you can expect to be on the receiving end of a lot of questions about Scotland’s drive for independence. As the bagpiper for the Rocky Mountaineer train, I certainly have.
To be clear, I was born and raised in New Scotland (Nova Scotia) not Old Scotland. I am a fifth generation Canadian and obviously unable to vote. However, as a kilt-wearing bagpiper with a Scottish name, believe me, you become a magnet for questions from visitors from around the world about Scottish independence. Continue reading
“Working on the railroad” at the Rocky Mountaineer station in Vancouver.
For the past four years during the summer months, I have been fortunate to play pipes for the Rocky Mountaineer Rail Company. The tourist passenger train with the amazing views takes travellers through the spectacular Rocky Mountains to Banff and Jasper, Calgary and Whistler. And this year, the company has added an additional train, the Coastal Passage, from Seattle to Vancouver.
As a piper, it’s a great opportunity to share music with an enthusiastic group of travellers, supported by an amazing crew of people at Rocky Mountaineer. Click on the link below to see what life is like behind the scenes at Rocky Mountaineer as we prepare for an early morning train departure. Enjoy.
A Rocky Mountaineer early morning departure from Vancouver