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

RCMP Pipe Band History Series – 2010

After the extremely busy year the band had in 2009, the year 2010 was a bit quieter and gave members time to decompress a bit. Of course “quieter” is a relative term, since they still did 38 events.

One of the sad duties of the band, but a very important one, is piping for funerals of police officers killed on duty. In that respect, 2010 was a particularly bad year with two funerals.

On a happier note, one event from 2010 which has been ongoing since, is a spring concert for the veterans at the Perley-Rideau health centre. This show is usually the first concert of the year, so gives the band members a chance to test out the new tunes and dances against a live audience.

The band also participated in four Tattoos, two of which were in the U.S. and three of which were over a period of less than one month.

Check out the full story, complete with many great photos, here

RCMP Pipe Band history series – 2009

In 2009, the RCMP Pipe Band had a banner year. The band played at 40 events and among them, 5 different Military Tattoos. That is a remarkable list of achievements, but is even more impressive when you add in the 2nd presentation of a variety show at the Dominion Chalmers, which they then took on the road to Pembroke for a presentation there.

One of the tattoos mentioned above was the Windsor Castle Royal Tattoo. The RCMP were presenting a horse to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, so the band was invited to play at the tattoo where the presentation would take place. Twelve lucky musicians from across Canada formed the composite band for this event. As a side note, the RCMP had to ensure Police Service Horse George was not going to be surprised and react badly to the Pipes and Drums, so band members visited him at the Ottawa stable to acclimatize him. Apparently, he liked the pipes, but took a bit of time to get used to the “snap” of the snare drums and the whirling of the sticks. In the end, he proved to be a fan!

The cover photo above shows George posing with band members.

To read the full story of this exciting year, access the document here.

RCMP Pipe Band History series – 2008

In its eighth year, the band spread its wings even further and got involved in more varied events. One of the memorable highlights is their participation in a special event in Las Vegas, at the Planet Hollywood Resort Casino in Las Vegas, hosted by TV icon Regis Philbin. The story of that adventure is included in this year’s edition and is definitely worth a read. The cover photo is the band on stage in Las Vegas for that special event,

Other events in 2008 included a fundraising concert to a sell out crowd at the majestic Dominion Chalmers United Church in downtown Ottawa. This concert resulted in the production of a great CD. Trips to Regina, Kingston, Charlottetown and Pictou rounded out the very busy year. There were 38 band events in total and the dancers were also performing in eight of those. You might notice that a few of the events were labeled as Composite band participation. When there is a major event which would benefit from a larger presence, pipers and drummers are recruited from other RCMP Pipe Bands across the country. It makes for a bigger sound and greater presence, but does lead to other challenges.

Read the whole interesting story of 2008’s adventures 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.