The End of an Era at Vancouver’s Bagpipe Repair Shop

We all knew it was coming, and now it’s official. After a long career as Vancouver’s go-to bagpipe doctor, Mike McDonald is retiring. In a letter to customers, he says he is going to

 “try to take advantage of the so called Golden years. To this end, I have enjoyed the business and opportunity to meet with you. The pleasure was mine.”

No, Mike, the pleasure was ours. If there is one place in all of the Lower Mainland where a piper felt welcome, it was his home on Surrey’s 72nd Ave. We’ve all made the trek out to 72nd Avenue for any number of repairs, big or small, for bits and pieces to improve our pipes or for special work that gives them new life. Park near the big tree outside, then out to his shop in the garage where Mike has worked for the past few years among the lathes, spools, machines and pipe parts. It’s been a long journey.

Mike’s shop opened in 1990 as a hobby, while working full time. That hobby quickly become a second job as Mike realized the need. He didn’t advertise and he didn’t have a website. It was all word-of-mouth and recommendations from fellow pipers. Repairs came in from not only the Lower Mainland, but also Japan, France, Australia, the US, Argentina and Nova Scotia.

As a piper with a number of bands, Mike had both the musical and technical ability to create long-lasting and hardy repairs, working with all kinds of metal and plastics. He even had time to build his own McDonald Delrin Bagpipes, some of which are being played today.

He retired from his full-time job in 2010, allowing Mike to take up the repair business full time. Seven years later, and now in his 80’s, it’s time to slow down and enjoy “the golden years”. His business, however, is not disappearing. Well known champion piper Andrew Lee is ready to take the helm .

“I have worked closely with Andrew for the past 2 1/2 years and and he has shown himself to be a conscientious and skilled in bagpipe repair and manufacture I  have every confidence that he will provide excellent repair service”, says Mike in his farewell letter.

Mike will finally get his garage back. The machinery, boxes, equipment, bits & pieces and everything else connected to the bagpiper repair business, however, is not moving far. Andrew’s new shop will be located about five minutes away, at 19514 76 Ave in Surrey.

All the best, Mike, in your retirement. And thank you from a grateful piping community.

About Mike Chisholm

Official Piper: Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours. Pitt River Resort. Exec. Dir. ScotFestBC: The British Columbia Highland Games, Director, BC Pipers' Assn. Former journalist, Nova Scotian, Dad.
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