Canmore Highland Games
From the world’s largest, to North America’s oldest, there are many great Scottish highland games around the world. To name just a few, the largest is the Cowal Highland Gathering in Scotland; in the US, there are the Pleasanton Games in California and the Grandfather Mountain Games in North Carolina and the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Antigonish Highland Games in Nova Scotia, the oldest continuous Games in North America). Continue reading
When the bagpiper plays the lament this year at cenotaphs in Vancouver and around the country on November 11, it will a poignant moment for many.
As most Canadian are well aware, we lost two soldiers recently on our own shores. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run over and killed as he departed a government office building in Quebec. The deranged attacker, who was later killed in a confrontation with police, was a Muslim convert who RCMP had investigated as an Islamic State sympathizer. Continue reading
BC Law Enforcement Memorial, 2014. Photo: Twitpic @bcRCMP
The sun shone again, for the 16th time in the 17 year history of the BC Law Enforcement memorial, commemorating those officers of the RCMP and all other police forces who lost their lives in the line of duty in British Columbia. This is an annual event that draws police members from all over British Columbia and Washington. A similar memorial is held in each province at the end of September, with a national memorial held in Ottawa.
This is also an opportunity for the three police pipe bands in the Lower Mainland to play for the honour guards and troops who march to remember their past colleagues. The RCMP E. Division Pipe Band, under Pipe Major Hugh Peden and Drum Major Rob Smith, led the bands to Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford today, followed by the Delta Police Pipe Band, under PM John Ralston and Drum Major J.P. DaSilva and the Vancouver Police Pipe Band, under PM Cal Davis.
A Rocky Mountaineer send-off
If you wear a kilt and play the bagpipes for thousands of visitors from around the English speaking world, you can expect to be on the receiving end of a lot of questions about Scotland’s drive for independence. As the bagpiper for the Rocky Mountaineer train, I certainly have.
To be clear, I was born and raised in New Scotland (Nova Scotia) not Old Scotland. I am a fifth generation Canadian and obviously unable to vote. However, as a kilt-wearing bagpiper with a Scottish name, believe me, you become a magnet for questions from visitors from around the world about Scottish independence. Continue reading
“Working on the railroad” at the Rocky Mountaineer station in Vancouver.
For the past four years during the summer months, I have been fortunate to play pipes for the Rocky Mountaineer Rail Company. The tourist passenger train with the amazing views takes travellers through the spectacular Rocky Mountains to Banff and Jasper, Calgary and Whistler. And this year, the company has added an additional train, the Coastal Passage, from Seattle to Vancouver.
As a piper, it’s a great opportunity to share music with an enthusiastic group of travellers, supported by an amazing crew of people at Rocky Mountaineer. Click on the link below to see what life is like behind the scenes at Rocky Mountaineer as we prepare for an early morning train departure. Enjoy.
A Rocky Mountaineer early morning departure from Vancouver
Bob Gillies (on rt) with other participants in AHG Reunion Pipe Band. (Bob is playing John Walsh’s full silver pipes.)
Bob Gillies classic bagpipes are safe and sound – and back in British Columbia.
In the fall of 2013, retiree Bob and his wife took a leave of absence from the Delta Police Pipe Band. They packed their RV for a long journey and as usual, Bob tossed in his pipes for their yearlong adventure. The Gillies travelled from BC to Mexico last winter, then up to the Canadian Maritimes in the early summer. Bob plans call for a return to the US during the cold Canadian winter before heading back home to BC next year. His wife and RV are still with him. His Starck bagpipes? Well, today they are a continent away. Continue reading
After a very successful 150th anniversary celebration of the Antigonish Highland Games, the AHG Reunion Pipe Band returned to the streets of Antigonish, Nova Scotia for another stroll down Main Street. For pipers and drummers in the region, this is the grand daddy of street parades. Thousand of people turn out, many cheering and clapping for pipe bands as they have done at the AHG Grand Street Parade for a century. My friend Ian McKinnon led the band, with fellow Antigonish pipers Doug Boyd, Gerry Gillis, Francis Beaton and myself rounding out the front rank. A number of other great pipers such as John Grant, Karen MacLean and even a piper from the Delta Police Pipe Band (Bob Gillies) joining in.
JP Fell Pipe Band at Bagpipes by the Beach, West Vancouver.
In the world of pipe bands, there are only a few occasions when both competitive and performance pipe bands play together. The June 14 “Bagpipes by the Beach” in West Vancouver is one of those occasions.
In the Lower Mainland of BC, we are fortunate to be a hotbed of both competitive and performance pipe bands, with two top-level, competitive Grade I bands (Simon Fraser University Pipe Band and Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band) and a number of bands in Grade II, III & IV divisions. Along with these competition bands, there are a number of performance bands, including the RCMP E. Division Pipe Band, the Vancouver Police, Delta Police pipe bands, J.P. Fell Pipe Band of North Vancouver and the Irish Regiment, to name a few. Continue reading