Honour comes on 50th
Jun 29, 2001
BOWMANVILLE -- Fifty years after it was formed, the Bowmanville Legion Pipe Band is
still wooing crowds and, earlier this month, it took national honours at a competition in Fort Erie.
The band defeated 14 other pipe bands from
across Canada and the United States to win the Canadian title and will continue on to the North American Pipe Band Championship
in Maxville, Ontario on Aug. 4.
"Hard work and everything seemed to come
together that day," says Pipe Major Jim Scott, who joined the band six years ago. "A lot of it has to do with how well people
get along," he adds. "The band has always had a chemistry that allows you to play together and work at the music together.
I think that is what sets it apart from others."
About the same time Major Scott joined the
band, a number of other people came aboard and the band began a rejuvenation period, he says. "We started competing and the
level of play just got better and better." This year the band will compete in six competitions. Last year, in five competitions,
the band took a third place and two fourth-place showings.
One of the band's original members, Don Brooks,
says the band didn't change much for many years but in the mid-80s to early 90s, it was "up and down" with its membership
as many of the originals retired from the band.
Another original member, Bill Colville adds,
"It has its ebb and flow; every band does." He credits current member Sergeant Gord Adams for sticking by the band when it
reached a low point in the mid-90s and recruiting Major Scott and others instead of leaving to join a more flourishing band.
It is this type of loyalty that has kept the band alive for half a century, he suggests.
And it was not just the loyalty of band members
but of the wives and families who helped the band right from the very beginning. It was called the Tartan Club, recalls Mr.
Colville, pointing to decades-old newspaper clippings of women serving fund-raising dinners, sewing costumes for Santa Claus
parades and doing whatever it took to support the band including preparations for the annual Rabbie Burns night celebrations.
Mr. Brooks, who went on to become the band's
major for many years, was not deterred by the fact he had no ability to play the pipes when he signed on half a decade ago.
For many years he has repaid his own teachers by doing the same for others, introducing those who have an interest in the
music but no previous experience to the pipes.
His own desire to play came from a parade
that went through Bowmanville around the same time the band was being formed. He was drawn to the sight of the drum major
who "tossed his stick as high as the hotel roof." When the band formed soon after, "mine was the first name on the list,"
Mr. Colville and Mr. Brooks reminisce about
their own days leading the parades and taking the band to competitions through North America. Mr. Brooks recalls the highlight
when the band won third place in an international competition in Atlantic City after taking a championship from a field of
tough competition in Kingston, Ontario.
"We beat so many bands to get there (to Atlantic
City) and then beat so many down there. For me, as a pipe major, that was the highlight of my career."
Now the two men watch with pride as future
generations carry on the legacy.
Anyone interested in hearing the band in
action can catch it when it plays at Rotary Park as part of the Concert in the Park series on Thursday, July 26 beginning
at 7 p.m.