Preparing for bagpipes in the Vancouver sunshine

Gibralter Sea Scouts Pipe Band, 1920

Spring brings a lot of joy to those good people who play the pipes and drums.

We can play outside again.

Today, the thermometer reached 16 degrees in some places in the Lower Mainland. It may have been warmer, but 16 is pretty nice on March 23 in Canada. The axis has turned a bit and I like the direction it’s headed. Warmer days, outside practices, highland games and nice evenings. I can remember from a very early age, it was clearly spring when you could hear the bagpipers in my town playing in their backyards.  The town contained a lot of good, young bagpipers.  They played in a legion band that would finish second in Grade 2 at the 1976 North American Pipe Band Championships.  The average age of the band was 15. Pipe Major Allan Beaton; 16 years old.

So, there was no shortage of pipe music filling the quiet air on a nice evening in Antigonish.



Here on the West Coast, finding a good place to practice outside in the Metro Vancouver area can  be tough. Too close to folks in

a park, and it looks like you’re busking. My first attempt in Vancouver ìn May

Outdoor Vancouver Bagpipes

1997 was Stanley Park.  I was playing by myself in the corner of a small open area when a grounds-person came over and asked me for my license. I didn’t have one. She kicked me out. In British Columbia today, I think Lord Freddie Stanley and Malcolm A. MacLean, the first mayor Vancouver would not be impressed.

While living in Kitsilano, I woould wander down to the Jericho Garrison, since the military seem to have a fascination with this instrument and never once ran me off the property.  And while playing with Triumph Street (Gr3) we practiced outside near the anchor at Spanish Banks, suffering abuse from some people, but handling it all very professionally in the pubs on 4th avenue afterward.  We also practiced in the park near Lakefield Dr. and Highway One.  Lot’s of mosquitoes.

In Coquitlam, there`s the Riverview Hospital site, and Percy Perry Stadium grounds and surrounding fields. I would be interested in hearing about other places in the Lower Mainland. Any pipers or drummer who would like to contribute their ideas, please feel free to comment.

So, until the rain and clouds return, I hope some get a chance outside in the next day or so to play, and welcome spring with a few outdoor pipe tunes.


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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