Tog Orm Mo Phiob. Shouldering …and hearing the pipes again.

The following headline was recently posted on Craigslist Vancouver: Bagpipes: Grainger and Campbell“.

The posting says the pipes have not been heard in years. The author, Hugh MacKintosh, inherited his father’s Grainger and Campbell bagpipes and after long thought and discussions with his wife, has decided to sell them. MacKintosh says he cannot, nor could not, learn the pipes because of Parkinson’s Disease. I know this was a difficult decision for Hugh to make. Giving away your father’s or family pipes to strangers is tough. In this case, Hugh, knowing the alternative was to place them under a bed for years, voted for the instrument and maybe for his father as well.  What piper would not want to see his pipes continue making music. I certainly do. Be they with family members or not. And these Grainger & Campbell’s made a lot of music in their day in the Mission area.

The Mission Legion Pipe Band. Branch #57.  In the fall of 1960, a group of men enthusiastic about the bagpipes went to the Haney Legion and asked to be supported for lessons. I assume Haney said no, because in December 1961 there was a piper and drummer named Dave Steele who worked with the armed forces at CFB Chilliwack. He started teaching the group, and the local Mission legion threw in $5,000. That was a lot of money in 1961. It’s still a lot of money for most pipe bands today. All that dough got them uniforms, drums….and bagpipes.* I can’t confirm whether or not the Craigslist pipes came from this batch, but I’ll bet it did.

The band marched its first parade in 1962. The only tune the pipe band could play was “The Brown Haired Maiden“.  Let’s hope everyone in Mission who knew Scottish music was in the band that day, not on the street. Those pipes were heard for the next decade or more. All the Remembrance Day events in the 1960’s and 70’s, veteran’s nights, at Hugh Sr’s. home, etc.  Hugh Jr. remembers many times when his father would be dressed in kilt and Prince Charlie jacket, shouldering the pipes and marching into a room. The pipes saw many years of active service, but they have been quiet for several years now, languishing in a box. As Hugh MacKintosh says, it’s time to let them go, and be heard again.

I have refurbished what are already solid pipes. The L&M bag is in good shape after some seasoning. The drone bores have been cleaned and oiled. The nickle polished. These pipes have beautiful Celtic designs on the imitation silver ring caps, ferrules and tuning slides.  It may take some time, but the process of getting these pipes once again into musical circulation and back on someone’s shoulder is now underway.

*Carl Ian Walker’s “Pipe Bands in British Columbia”. Publisher: Western Academy of Pipe Music.

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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1 Response to Tog Orm Mo Phiob. Shouldering …and hearing the pipes again.

  1. My brother Ron was pipe major of the Abbotsford Pipe Band that Dave Steele took under his wing and I have to say, they were a great little band with some terrific pipers and drummers. Ron Clark, Sandy Shatford, Gordon McNeil and on they go. Dave was a great man, a kind and gentle man and a gifted musician and teacher. My sister and I still get goose pimples when we hear the pipes and have many, many fond memories of listening to the APB on practice nights and every parade and/or competition they were involved in. It was a truly wonderful time and how fortunate for Abbotsford when Dave Steele entered all our lives.

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