Zephan Knichel, 2016 Open Piping Aggregate winner
There’s nothing like a room full of bagpiper and drummers to get your heart – and a season underway.
The first competition of the piping season in the Pacific Northwest was successfully launched last weekend in Surrey. The BC Pipers’ Association Annual Gathering was held at Clayton Heights Secondary School in Surrey on the Easter weekend with plenty of great piping and drumming, and of course, pipe bands in all levels. The ceilidh afterwards was also a lot of fun. Kudos go out to Rob MacNeil and the whole BCPA organizing committee for hosting this event. The BCPA has been the driving force behind the organization and encouragement of piping and drumming in this area for almost 100 years. As former BC Highland Games chair Bill Elder said at the competition, there was once a time when only a handful of pipe bands and pipers showed up to compete. Today, almost two dozen pipe bands and more than 100 pipers competed in all levels. And much of the competition was broadcast online to an audience around the world. It’s a testament to the hard work of the BCPA and the competitive pipe band leadership in this region. Continue reading
The plaid is a sure sign of spring in British Columbia.
Starting this weekend, the French Canadian community in the Lower Mainland is the first to host a festival that has been going strong for 40 years. The Festival du Bois takes place the March 5 weekend in Coquitlam, and is the kick-off event of the 2016 festival year. There’ll be lots of great French Canadian entertainment taking place under the tents at MacKin Park in Coquitlam, although curiously, one of the former
headliners at the festival, Acadian Lennie Gallant of PEI is performing at Vancouver ‘s Rogue Folk Club that weekend. The strange programming aside, the days are getting a big longer, the sun warmer and despite two weekends of grey skies and rain, the Festival du Bois is a clear indication spring is on its way – and so is St. Patrick’s Day.
Piping outdoors at the Rocky Mountaineer station
After more than a month of non-stop rain and grey skies, the sun has returned (temporarily, I’m sure) to the lower south west corner of British Columbia. And that means only one thing – spring is around the corner.
Already, the snow drops are blooming in my front yard, and the bushes are sprouting new green shoots in the backyard. And while it may seem like time to head outdoors for a bit of piping, the first thing on the schedule is the Indoor.
At this time of the year, most pipe bands are well into the practice season. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s only a short time to the BC Pipers’ Association Annual Gathering, also known as the “Indoor”. The Indoor is held on the Friday and Saturday of the Easter long weekend featuring solo piping and drumming, pipe band competition solo piobaireachd and Open drumming competitions, as well as a drumming workshop.
It can be a lot of fun piping in a new year in British Columbia, especially at 4 o’clock on New Year’s Eve.
When the clock chimes 4 pm in BC, it’s rings midnight in Scotland. And when Scotland celebrates, so too do folks here in BC. For years, families, friends and groups have been meeting at pubs around the lower mainland on New Year’s afternoon to ring in the “Scottish” New Year. In this era of instant contact, some are even Face timing with friends in the old country sitting at similar pubs while everyone counts down together. It’s a bit of that fun has been taking place for years. Of course, what’s a Scottish New Year’s celebration without bagpipes? Marching in at the strike of 4, singing Auld Lang Syne together is a great way to spend a late afternoon. Especially with another big celebration only eight hours away.
On Remembrance Day, 2015, the people of our country will pause to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. As I have for many years, I will play the piper’s Remembrance Day lament at a number of ceremonies, including the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. But at each one, I will remember the most influential veteran of World War II that I have ever known – my late father.
Like many men from the small Nova Scotia community where I was born, he joined the Canadian military in the early stages of the war and served his country as a Canadian Air Force sergeant and aerial navigator. He received
J. Ronald Chisholm, 18, shortly before joining the RCAF in 1939.
the Overseas Medal for serving on a base that provided escort duties for naval and merchant ships plying the dangerous waters of the North Atlantic, keeping supply lines open and bringing Canadian soldiers overseas and back home. At the end of the European campaign, he was scheduled to ship out to the Pacific war zone when the atomic bombs were dropped, and the war ended. He credits his mother’s prayers for keeping him on home soil. He now lies in our family cemetery plot overlooking ancestral land along the shores of Antigonish Harbour and among the gravestones of many other fellow veterans and colleagues of “the war”, a common expression when I was growing up. When I was a younger man, I remember the “old” vets were survivors of W.W.I. Now the last of the W.W.II vets are passing to their final reward. I will think of them also, their dedication to country during war time and the contribution they have made to this country during peace.
Pebble Beach, CA
On a windswept piece of landscaped rough, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and its pounding surf, as golfers and guests gather to wrap up their day and reminisce about their drives and putts, they witness a beautiful sight and sound as a bagpiper strolls along the fairway at sunset, playing the sun down with haunting airs and laments as waves crash below him.
Every night this iconic image of a piper along the shore takes place at the Pebble Beach Resort, The Inn at Spanish Bay – south of San Francisco. The top golf course resembles a Scottish-style links course but instead of bordering the North Atlantic, duffers enjoy the salty tang of the wild California coastline. Designed by Robert Trent Jr., Tom Watson and Sandy Tatum, the course is a natural beauty. For many of the guests, including golfers and diners, the piper closing down the day is the highlight of the evening. Setting down drinks near an outdoor fire, a setting western sky. and what they have settled in to hear. In fact, a piper figures prominently in the golf courses logo. Continue reading
Looking to satisfy that summer urge for piping, kilts and haggis? British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest is the place to be in 2015.
It all starts this weekend with the annual Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival which kicks off the outdoor piping and drumming competitive season with a three day event at Topaz Park in the BC’s provincial capital. Catch the ferry to Vancouver Island to enjoy some of that region’s best highland dancers, pipers, drummers and heavy event athletes. The Victoria Highland Games begin on Saturday, May 16 and this year will also include Clan displays, vendors, heritage and history displays, Celtic field sports such as Gaelic football and Irish Hurling, children’s entertainment, Celtic music and dancing performances, shepherding, whisky tasting, beverage areas and much more. Continue reading
Posted in History, Tradition & Heritage, Music
Tagged bagpiping, beer gardens, Coquitlam, haggis, heavy events, Highland games, kilts, tartans, Vancouver, whisky tasting