Piping in the Grey Cup

Ok, it’s not the Stanley Cup, but it’s just as old. The Cup is amazing. Dented, beat up and losing a bit of its shine. It’s absolutely perfect. Thanks to the SFU football alumni for inviting me to lead in the Cup. I’m now waiting for a call from the Vancouver Canucks to lead in the Stanley Cup (someday, I know it will happen.)

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A look back at June 2018

2018 BC Highland Games

Onibano Taiko Drummers

Shot of Scotch Highland Dancers and Royal Academy of Bhangra

BC Highland Games Chair, Mike Chisholm

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Wrapping Up 2018 Bagpiping in Vancouver

Rocky Mountaineer president Steve Sammut, Armstrong Group CEO Peter Armstrong and RM Piper Mike Chisholm in the new RM tartan livery.

It’s been a great 2018. As both the bagpiper for Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours and the chair/executive director of the BC Highland Games & Scottish Festival, we have had a very busy year.

The Rocky Mountaineer season is wrapping up next week, with another great year and thousands of international guests passing through the main RM station in Vancouver. This year the company unveiled its new company tartan, representing the colours of the Rocky Mountaineer trains that depart and arrive in Vancouver from Seattle, Whistler, Jasper and Banff, Alberta from April until October. The fabulous tartan was designed by Vancouver designer Gordon Kirkbright and registered with the Scottish Registry of Tartans last spring. It has proven very popular with guests and hopefully we will see more of it in coming years.

Lafarge Lake Park

As the new executive director of the BC Highland Games, we are also in a major transition. After 27 years, we have decided to move from Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam, across the street to the redesigned Lafarge Lake Park.  This is a major move for the Games, and it will present plenty of challenges. However, our Games committee along with the City are focused on making this move to what we believe will be a much better venue in 2019. More grass, more shade and more room to move around. Hopefully we will see the stock dogs return to herding sheep around the field along with more bands, more music and new attractions. It’s a big job, but the Games are getting bigger so this new venue should be a great fit.

Now, with the days getting shorter and colder, it’s time to look forward to Remembrance Day events around the region. I hope to see you out there someday.

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Rocky Mountaineer Vancouver Bagpiper on the job


Rocky Mountaineer Piper

It’s a busy year at the Rocky Mountaineer. Record number of guests from the US, UK, India, China and many other countries are discovering the luxury train through the mountains. I am pleased to be playing for my 8th season with this company of great people.

Here’s an article about the Rocky Mountaineer trip from Vancouver to the rocky mountains from a guest from England, published in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo.

“The Rocky Mountaineer has a dedicated terminal on the outskirts of Vancouver and a bagpiper, in full Scottish regalia, piped us aboard. As we rolled away the piper continued to play as the company’s staff waved us off, prompting a flurry of photography from carriage windows that are cleaned before each day’s travel.”

And here’s another one from a guest

“The Rocky Mountaineer does things with a nice touch of class.  We were greeting by a guy playing Beatles music on a baby grand when we entered the terminal, got complimentary coffee and juice, and were piped aboard the train by a bagpiper in full Scottish regalia.  Now we’ve been given a “sunrise toast” with orange juice and bubbly to start our journey.”

It’s only half way through the season, the weather has been fantastic and it looks great for the remainder of the summer. I look forward to meeting many more guests as we head towards fall.

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Shamrocks and Thistles, bagpipes and bodhran’s in downtown Vancouver



It may be St. Patrick’s Day, but when the Celtic nations get together for a party, it’ll be tough to miss the Scots.

Downtown Vancouver will resonate with music this weekend as the 2017 Vancouver Celtic Festival kicks off on St. Patrick’s Day, Friday March 17. Vancouver’s Robson Square is the center of the action with musical acts, pipe bands, singers, dancers, beer gardens and some big name acts to keep the party going all day.

Check out the Vancouver CelticFest website for more details. Or wander down to Robson Square on Saturday for the “Salute to Scotland”. The four-hour event on Saturday afternoon will feature the RMM, VPD and RCMP pipe bands, Heather Jolley and Stave Falls highland dancers and of course our heavy event athletes and some of their implements for guests to handle.  The afternoon Salute is sponsored by the BC Highland Games & Scottish Festival (June 17) in Coquitlam. Tickets for the Games will be on sale all day.  The event is being emcee’d by CKPM announcer Rod MacBeth and wraps up with the mighty sound of the massed pipe bands at 4pm.


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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.”

Continue reading

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First ivory restrictions on bagpipes. Now African blackwood.

There’s a good reason forward-thinking countries have banned or tightly control the over-the-border

Outdoor Pipes

African Blackwood bagpipes

movement of products that contain ivory, such as bagpipes. A proper certificate for an ivory/silver set of pipes is a hassle, but worth it if it slows down the barbaric poaching of elephants in the wild. But now another key component of the Great Highland Bagpipes could be under tight restrictions and this one affects almost everyone who has a set of pipes.

Check out the story here:


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Remembrance Week Bagpipes Salute Veterans & Canada

A beautiful tune, played by PM Matt MacIsaac, with PM Katie Buckland and a Canadian Forces pipe band from a concert in November, 2012. A perfect way to commemorate a week of remembrance for our veterans and for our country.

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