What’s new, Vancouver Bagpiper?

It’s been a busy 2023 so far.

Massed bands at ScotFestBC: The British Columbia Highland Games, led by BCPA Sr. Drum Major John Nichol

A Nova Scotia wedding in May, two major festivals (ScotFestBC and World Music Festival) in June and another Irish festival in Vancouver in August. Throw in a few weddings including one in Ucluelet, funerals, memorials, backyard parties, Canada Day and of course graduations, and my pipes haven’t had much time to dry out.

August is always one of the best month’s for competitive piping, with the World Pipe Band Championship in Glasgow, Scotland in mid-August. Several local pipe bands, including the RMM III band and of course, SFU Pipe Band competed, with RMM taking 2nd place in the world in Grade III and SFU placing 4th in the highest level (Grade 1). It’s the place to be in the piping world in August, and hopefully one-day I’ll make it. Ironically, I’m too busy piping for tourist trains and other private events to pack up and head over the pond to the ‘old country’.

Hanging out with Piper to the Stars Lorne Cousins at ScotFestBC

Looking back on the big event of the year, we held a successful ScotFestBC in June, although our old friend Mr. Rain made an appearance on both Saturday and Sunday. It seems despite weeks of sunshine, Mother Nature always delivers the wet stuff during our Games. I do not recall so much rain at the Coquitlam Games in the past, and I have been attending these Games for 25-years (and running them for seven). It’s very frustrating and certainly puts a damper on the weekend. However, it’s a highland games, so it goes on rain or shine.

Our World Music Festival was a success, despite the rain. More than 100 performers on five stages and presentation areas. This kind of event has been a ‘bucket list” item for me, and now I’ve ticked it and a Vancouver (Irish) festival off my list. I do look forward to concentrating on ScotFestBC and continuing the growth that has been underway for the past years.

Piping outside St.FX.University. chapel for niece’s wedding in Nova Scotia in May.

As fall begins to settle in, it is time to start planning for the 92nd Games. But first I will be heading east for my annual fall fishing trip to Nova Scotia. Atlantic salmon on the fly is one of the most difficult (and satisfying) recreational fisheries there is. Enjoying the solitude and beauty of eastern Canadian autumn rivers with family and friends during the salmon run is something that I cannot replicate out here on the west coast. Our temperate climate doesn’t allow for the brilliant colours and cool morning temperatures that generate the explosion of colours in our deciduous trees. And the scarcity of Atlantic salmon (and the difficulty catching them) is not the same as the relative ease of catching a pink, coho or spring (chinook) salmon on the west coast. However, we can fish year round in BC, and that is definitely a bonus.

It will be Remembrance season upon my return and I will be busy at cenotaph services and other remembrance events around the region. The cold winds will have started and we will likely be in the middle of our six-month rainy season that makes it so hard to play (pipes) outside. However, it is also a great time to plan and prepare for the 92nd BC highland games.

It is also a great time to look at new music and start creating a repertoire for next year. In fact, I think I will start that today!