Pipe Band History Series – 2018

While there have been many incredible years for the band over the first 18 years of its life, 2018 was a standout. This was the year the RCMP Pipe Band program was awarded a Unit Commendation for the accomplishments over the years and its contribution to the RCMP’s program. As you’ll read, this was a first for the RCMP and was a great honour for the band members.

The band participated in 34 events over the year, including a Ceilidh to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the RCMP Tartan. This was held at the Cartier Square Drill Hall and was a sellout event. A group also participated in the Belfast Tattoo and was one of the featured acts.

One of the biggest events of the year was the trip to China for the Shanghai Tourist Festival. A large composite band, with members from across the country, participated in the parade. The estimated television audience for the event is 200 million people, so that is definitely the largest crowd we’ve played for. Naturally, the band took the opportunity to visit many interesting sights in China, including the Great Wall and Tianamen Square. We also had the chance to sample lots of Chinese cuisine in several different cities. The title photo is of the dancers on the trip, outside one of the dining spots. The whole story, along with many photos, are in this post’s write up, so please take the opportunity to have a read. The document can be reached here.

RCMP Band History Series – 2017

In 2017, the band performed at 40 different events, 10 of those with dancers. Individual pipers performed at 98 solo events, so another busy year. The Perley Rideau concert started the year off, followed by a public concert at Dominion Chalmers. In September, the band returned to Loon Mountain for the New Hampshire games. To the absolute delight of the whole band, our dancers were invited to join the famous Red Hot Chilli Pipers for their evening show. They still rave about that opportunity. Take a look at the cover photo from that event.

To top off the year, a small contingent went to Merida Mexico to play for the International Festival of Mayan Culture, and a group had the pleasure of playing for the Grey Cup festival at Lansdowne park.

It wasn’t all play, though. Band members still attended both the Ontario and the National Police Memorial service, and helped new Drum Majors learn their stuff when the course was run at the Carleton University campus, plus local RCMP functions when called upon.

As usual, this was just a small taste. Read the article and check out the many great photos in the document here.

RNWMP History – The Lost Patrol

Our esteemed Drum Major shared an RCMP history moment with band members, that we hope will be of interest to others as well. He was given a copy of the actual investigation report submitted on “The Lost Patrol” of the RNWMP in 1911 (as it became known). He remembers being told this story by his father, an RCMP member, and has shared the story.

“My father had patrolled by dogsled in the far north with the RCMP, and attested to the challenges of being in the true wilderness with only yourself, your dogs, your toboggan, supplies, and a trusty indigenous special constable to keep you alive. I was so intrigued with this story, which is one of legend in RCMP history. A tragedy yes, but valuable lessons learned as a result, which you will see. The story itself as seen through a diary kept, a report, an investigation, a map, and an unbelievable Arctic winter cold for the history books. It makes for quite the adventure to read about as we begin our own winter.

After I created the map of the patrol route, based on the diary and investigative report, it made the story much more interesting, to view the map, and to understand the challenges and difficulties faced in this Yukon wilderness.

For those interested, page 22 of the RNWMP investigation report, is the transcription of the diary written by Insp. Fitzgerald, which can only leave you incredulous as to how they were able to continue on without food (eating their sled dogs), frozen with frostbite from falling through ice multiple times, and with the extreme cold of -60 temps and wind chill, in the winter darkness of the north, only to succumb within a good day’s travel of their Fort. Cpl. Dempster’s search patrol party report is equally interesting, and one of legend.”

You can see a copy of the map he prepared here (updated 27 Feb 2021) and to read the story itself, click here.

RCMP Pipe Band History Series – 2016

The band history series continues, fueled by the dedication of our Pipe Major, Graeme Ogilve and his great record keeping! 2016 was a year of major change for the band; a new Pipe Major, a new Band Officer, a new Commanding Officer and a new lead for the dance team. The band also moved their quartermaster stores to the new HQ building on Leikin Road, which made life much easier for anyone needing uniform adjustment.

But the music went on. April featured a spring concert at Dominion Chalmers and September had the band flying off to Estes Park Colorado for a unique performance at the Scottish Festival there. There were 31 band events in total, with the dancers performing at 12 of them.

The year was also marked by the presentation of a new regimental mace. This was a gift to the band from former piper Kenneth Thornton. This allowed the original mace, dated from 1932, to be retired to the museum for safe keeping.

2016 was also memorable for featuring the very first time the RCMP Pipe Band of National Division actually wore their rain capes on parade (see post title photo).

More on this and many other stories in the full history document, which you can find by clicking here.

RCMP Band History – 2015

After a relatively quiet 2014, with no international trips, 2015 was a huge surge forward. The band participated in two overseas events that the members still talk about and hope to repeat.

The celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands in May, was an extraordinary experience. The hospitality of the Dutch towards the Canadians was incredible. Many strong friendships were forged on that trip and lifelong memories were made. This post’s cover photo is from one of the events on that trip.

Then to make for an even more outstanding year, many of the members headed off to Edinburgh in July to join in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The REMT is a month long, daily parade commitment. It is a hard slog, but one that the band members agree was well worth it. After all, performing at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a bucket list item for most pipers! Note that both of these were “Composite Band” events, which means members from the other RCMP bands across the country joined in, making the events an opportunity to make new friendships from across the country.

Even with those two demanding events to deal with, the band still supported another 25 events over the year, including the 5th annual spring concert at the Perley Rideau Veteran’s home. It was also the year the dance team joined up with the Ottawa Police Service dancers to provide spectacular performances for both bands.

It was a great year, full of interesting stories. Read all about it here.

RCMP Pipe Band History series – 2014

The RCMP Pipe Band had a somewhat quieter year in 2014, in that there was no international travel for the first time since 2004. There were still 42 events for the band, however, including 17 in which the dancers were a key part.

One sad duty of the band is leading the parade at funerals of police officers and 2014 had one of those occasions. Three RCMP officers were killed in Moncton that year by a crazed gunman and band members from across the country joined police officers from Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. to honour them.

There were many happier events too, including a freezing cold march in the annual St Patrick’s day parade in Montreal; a show for the Beau’s Oktoberfest; performing at a Redblacks game in September; and presenting a gift of RCMP Tartan to Princess Anne at the musical ride stables in November. We also took part in the observances of the Afghanistan National Day of Honour, which took place on Parliament Hill on 9 May. The feature photo for this post is of the band on the Hill that day.

The band tried something new in 2014 by preparing an arrangement of “the Gael”, which is an interesting pipe tune on its own. You’ll have to read the history document for the details of that.

One of the articles highlights band members’ participation in the Soldier On program by offering a “Saddle Up” course for ill and injured Canadian Forces veterans. Another great cause supported by our dedicated team of volunteers.

Note that after this week, the History series articles will be presented bi-weekly vice weekly. Don’t forget to check back to see them, since there were lots more adventures in the next few years up to today.

Read the whole great story of 2014 here.

RCMP Pipe Band History series – 2013

I hope you are finding the The Band History program writeups as entertaining as I am. Every year, it seems, some new and interesting event pops into the band’s schedule, along with some of the ones that had become regular. Life stayed hectic for the members. The 2013 write up contains so much interesting material, it has to be in two separate documents.

Piping Today magazine featured an article about the RCMP Pipes, Drums and Dancers in November 2013 and it was a very nice overview of the band’s history and program. There is mention of it in the main writeup, but a separate document provides a more readable copy here.

Graeme has also included interesting anecdotes about band members that give some insight into their motivation and contribution. In the 2013 write up, he has included an article on our piper/bugler; a man whose passion has re-started the tradition of bugle calls in the RCMP. There is also a story about the Tartan Day parade in New York City in a driving snowstorm. The cover photo for this post is from that parade.

Find those stories, and more, here.

RCMP Band History series for 2012

This issue of the Band History program is for the year 2012. It would be repetitive to say it was a big year, because by 2012, busy years had become the norm. In 2012, the band participated in 35 events and provided players for an additional 96 solo events. Of note on the list was our participation in the Queen’s Jubilee Concert performed at Centrepointe Theatre, a performance as featured band at the Military Music Festival in Quebec City and continuation of the annual traditions of the spring concert at the Perley-Rideau and at Dominion Chalmers. The band also got to “bagpipe train” another horse!

The cover photo above is of the cast of the Dominion Chalmers concert for 2012.

Have a read of the whole fascinating story of 2012 here

RCMP Pipe Band History series – 2011

The RCMP Pipe Band continued with traditions begun in previous years and added some new events. They presented another successful spring concert at Dominion Chalmers and sent a large contingent to Halifax for the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.

They also played for 3 RCMP Change of Command Ceremonies, serenated the veterans at the Perley Rideau with a repeat concert in the spring, played as the duty band at the New Hampshire Highland Games (a.k.a. Loon Mountain) and participated in the Fort Henry tattoo. In total, the band performed for 36 events. The cover photo is from the show at Loon Mountain.

While providing solo pipes for various functions had been ongoing, in 2011, the band set a new record with 91 solo piper events. The red serge was obviously in demand.

Of course, there are other anecdotes and events highlighted in the 2011 history. Read the whole story here.

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