The RCMP and the Monarchy

Members of the RCMP Pipes, Drums and Dancers have had the privilege of performing for members of the monarchy on many occasions. We look forward to any further opportunities in future. The RCMP has a long association with the monarchy and with our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II who is a strong proponent of the Force. The Vancouver branch of the RCMP Veterans Association published a very interesting history of the association between the monarch and the RCMP. It turns out it has existed since the very early years.

It is well worth your time to have a read of this article. We hope you enjoy it!

PPBSO Feature on Andrew Hayes

The RCMP Pipes and Drums is a group of volunteer pipers, focused on community service vice competitions. Because of this, we are fortunate to have pipers and drummers from various skill levels, both competitors and casual players. We were privileged in the early years to have Andrew Hayes in our ranks. Andrew is the son of Patrick Hayes, who was the RCMP Pipe Band’s founding Pipe Major. Both are featured in the photo above.

Andrew has played with several successful competitive bands in Canada. Recently, he was the Pipe Major of the Ottawa Police Services pipe band and led them to championship titles in Grade 2 and 4, before turning over that role to focus on his solo career.

As a solo competitor, Andrew has been extremely successful. He has won many prizes in Canada and has been successful in Scotland as well. Among the prizes he has won were London Gold Medals at the Northern Meeting in 2010 and the Argyllshire Gathering in 2019.

The Ottawa Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario (PPBSO) branch is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It has published articles about notable members of the piping and drumming community to celebrate this milestone. Issue #34 provides Andrew’s history. It is an interesting read and can be found here. While you are there, browse the other PPBSO articles and enjoy the interesting history of piping in the Ottawa area.

Remembrance Day 2021

Remembrance Day is always an important date in the calendar for the Pipes and Drums. Remembering the contributions of our military and police veterans in times of conflict is a sacred duty for our members. The RCMP Pipes and Drums have led the parade at the Royal Canadian Legion branch 632 in Orleans for many years, but in 2020, due to Covid restrictions, the band was represented only by our Pipe Major and Bugler in the limited attendance ceremony. This year, with the easing of restrictions, the Legion was able to present a full ceremony at their cenotaph and we were able to participate with a full band.

The band marched on the colours at the form up point, then led the veterans contingent to the cenotaph. Once in place, we played Maple Leaf Forever again to march the colours on and off the assembly area. As the ceremony progressed, our Bugler played the Last Post and the Rouse and the Pipe Major played the traditional Lament, Flowers of the Forest. Once the many wreaths were laid, the band marched off the participants to the Regimental March. In pure celebration of the occasion to march together again, the band returned to the branch building to the tune Cabar Feidh.

After a short break to warm up and partake in the lunch put on by the Branch, a mini-band retired to the upstairs lounge and played a few tunes. From all reports, the music was enjoyed by all. Certainly the band members really enjoyed the chance to perform as a group again after such a long dry spell.

The participants at the ceremony were all obviously pleased to be able to gather for a full ceremony again to remember our veterans. The favourable weather was an added bonus for all who attended. Our band photographer, Charles, was on hand to take the beautiful photographs presented below.

A tune for your listening pleasure

A short time ago, we announced the planned production of a book of pipe music to celebrate the RCMP’s 150th Anniversary in 2023. (details here) This post is to highlight one of the entries already submitted for the book.

The tune, 50 by 1, is composed by Bruce Topp, a former Pipe Major of the E division band. Before joining the RCMP Pipe Band in 2006, Bruce had already served as Pipe Major in military bands and had participated in many significant events with several of them. His full biography can be found here.

Bruce was also a long serving member of the Delta Police Pipe band and wrote this tune for their anniversary. This video, prepared by the DPPB, provides a beautiful rendition of the tune. Look for it in the compilation when it’s released next year.

The video can be found here. Enjoy!

The influence of Scots on the RCMP

The attached 2016 article was written by a Scot, John Walker, who once taught at the historic RCMP Fairmont Academy in Vancouver, as well as the Canadian Police College in Ottawa. He penned this article about the influence of the Scots on the formation of this country and in particular, on the RCMP. 

Of note, the reprinted article “Bring Forrit the Tartan” and the story of our first sojourn to the REMT in 2015 is included within his piece for the University of Edinburgh, written by our own Graham Muir years ago.  It is worth a read.

The article is here

General Bruce’s Ramparts

In August 2019, a composite band of members of RCMP Pipes and Drums bands from across the country had the distinct honour to participate in the massed bands of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. One of the many highlights of this month-long experience was meeting the Governor of Edinburgh Castle, Major General Alastair Bruce. He entertained us with stories of his links to Canada through his ancestors; Lord Elgin and Lord Durham, both former Governors General. The grandfather of our Pipe Major, Graeme Ogilvie, was the lead of a string orchestra that played for the Royal Family at Glamis Castle in the 1930’s for Saturday night dinners. During the conversations, Graeme asked Governor Bruce for a favour regarding access to photo archives at Glamis Castle and the Governor asked for a favour in return – his own bagpipe tune.

Our PM rose to the challenge, and penned the tune, “Governor Bruces’s Ramparts” which the full band recorded for Governor Bruce early in 2020 in a special session at the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa. Governor Bruce loved the tune and played a recording of it for the Queen, who enjoyed the tune as well. Since Her Majesty is the Commissioner-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (and continues to ride their horses, several of which have been gifted to her throughout her reign) this was a happy and unexpected bonus. The members of the band enjoyed performing this tune and have been looking forward to this official release of the video.

A historical note – the get together for this recording was the only time so far in 2020 that the full band was together in red serge! We hope it’s not the last, but with the pandemic still raging, that is a strong possibility. We will enjoy listening to the video while we wait and hope you do as well.

You can listen to the video at this link. Make sure you read the caption and comments on the YouTube link to get a bit more of this interesting story.

Piping in the military – a bit of history

Piping in the military had gone through some big changes in the 1980s. Our Pipe Major found this article in his archives, from the military’s Sentinel magazine in 1992. It talks about the situation with pipers in the military and how things changed over the years. Most pipers in military bands in 1992 were volunteers, except for a few professional musicians, who were the Pipe Majors and lead drummers. I don’t think the situation has changed much since then, but would be happy to hear if that’s the case. Pipers are largely a crazy lot who do it for the love of the music! Anyway, the article is here for your reading pleasure.

Welcome

Welcome to the new Pipe Band Blog page. This is a new initiative for us, so we are not yet sure how it will turn out. This is the band’s 20th year in operation, so we will be starting a series of posts describing the events over those years. Once the pandemic situation permits, we hope the band will get back to normal activities, at which time we should be able to write some blogs about our events. And who knows what else might show up? Stay tuned and we hope the contents of the blog will be interesting for you.