Mo chreach, it’s April 2010! Summer is on its way, and soon the bagpipers of Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and the Lower Mainland will be outside preparing for weddings and competitions.
The winter Olympics have come and gone, and many pipers, drummers and pipe bands are gearing up for another season of great highland bagpipe competition in Vancouver, British Columbia and beyond. Last year the Triumph Street Pipeband made the “cut” at the World’s in Scotland, and this year, they’ll be back looking for the the ring and hopefully giving their old adversaries, the Simon Fraser University Pipeband, a run for their money. As for myself, I’ll be doing what I can to help out my favorite pipeband (as a Director) and looking forward to getting outside to play solo as much as possible during the warm summer evenings as I think back to life growing up by the ocean in northern Nova Scotia.
I must pass on some sad news on the piping front. My friend Archie MacKay, the last bagpiper who saw active service overseas with the Cape Breton Highlanders during WWII, passed away a few weeks ago in Langley, BC. Archie and I became friends after I moved to Vancouver and another piper from home suggested we connect. As an Antigonisher and a piper, I of course contacted Archie and we became friends. He was an excellent piper in his day, but arthritis caught up to him and his playing days ended a few years ago. He continued to write great pipe tunes on the computer (I have been lucky enough to have a few of his original compositions) and he stayed on top of all the activity of pipers, especially the young ones out of the Maritimes. His pipes (WWII silver/ivory Henderson’s) will be given to my friend and former instructor Maj. Allan J. MacKenzie (J for genius). Both Alan and I played a private salute (Flowers of the Forest) to Archie last Saturday. I in Coquitlam. Alan in Atlanta, Georgia. Our condolences go to his wife Marion and daughter Cathy.
Coincidentally, Alan’s grandfather, Black Jack MacDonald, was the pipe major of the CB Highlander’s when Archie was marching alongside him in the front row – one of the few pipers who could read music. I have one of Archie’s pipe cases, and will remember him for many years as I tramp around the countryside with my pipes.
However, life moves on and while sad to see good folks (and pipers) like Archie pass to their reward, he’s left a lot of good memories with many people and added his stamp to bagpiping life.
And with that, I’ll say oidhche mhath (good night) and good piping (or listening).