Editor’s Notes: Iain Ruari Tune/ Powell River Band/ Achnacarry/ Lorient/ Lonach

Ian Ruari and Hector with tune

The PP Lockdown Challenge continues and here is a tune from Ian Ruari Finlayson and his son Hector, appropriately named ‘Confined to Barracks’:

Ian Ruari: ‘Hector is 12 years old and pupil of Niall Stewart, Kyle of Lochalsh. That is Rassay to the far right of picture and Skye on the left in the distance.’

All tune submissions will be judged by P/M Barry Donaldson and winners announced later so keep them coming.

Have a listen to the tune played by Ian Ruari:

Thanks to everyone who sent information on the Powell River band as requested. This from Stuart MacAlpine of Portland, Oregon via Robert Boyd, California: ‘Thanks for the great updates from Piping Press. Robert and I met you at the Dan Reid contest many years ago. The Powell River PB photo appears in B&W on page 104 of Carl Ian Walker’s Pipe Bands in British Columbia. 

[Carl Ian Walker former President of the British Columbia Pipers’ Association]. The caption reads: Back Row: Ian Johnston, D/S George Pryde, Harry Steele, Dave Bruce, Stuart Ferguson, Peter MacDowell, Robert Hetherington, John MacKenzie; Front Row: P/M Dave Westie, Fred MacLeod, Wally Laird, Kenny Ross, Benny Manson, James McNeil, James Yardley, P/S George Taylor

The band started around 1930 by several employees of MacMillan Bloedel Pulp and Paper of Powell River BC.  In the 1950s the band upgraded itslef, in the process placing ads in Scotland for pipers and drummers willing to move to Powell River and work for the company. 

That’s how they attracted George Pryde of the Edinburgh City Police (1947 world solo drumming champion). The band was very successful as a Grade 1 band (by then BC standards) in BC and elsewhere. Main competitors in BC were the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and the Vancouver Police.

The photo dates from about 1960.  Pryde moved to Powell River in 1957. Of some interest is that Lt. Col. John MacGregor VC, MC and Bar, DCM (a public relations officer with MacMillan Bloedel) was appointed band manager.  The band adopted MacGregor tartan and uniforms were ordered from Scotland. These original uniforms were lost when the ATHENIA was sunk by a German U-boat in 1940. 

Bruce Topp added: ‘This mill was the largest mill in the world at that time. The drum corps, led by Bob Hetherington were known as the ‘Boys of Bow Hill’ as many played with the Bowhill Colliery Band [the first RSPBA World Champions]. Dave Westie was the P/M; John Mackenzie was a piper and active competitor. Fred Macleod was another piper. His father, Donald MacLeod, former P/M of the Winnipeg Cameron Highlanders, was my first teacher.’

Thanks everyone for that; I remember teaching with Fred in the Pacific North West in the early 90s. Beautiful part of the world.

Thanks to reader the reader who responded to the earlier tune we carried, Spean Bridge to Achnacarry by Sandy and Finlay Cameron, and its attendant story. The Achnacarry Estate, seat of Cameron of Lochiel, witnessed lots of gunfire before the Commandos arrived, not always with happy results:

Don’t you just love the understatment and the fact that the doomed earl’s cricket averages were given precedence over the manner of his demise? Changed times.

Tom Johnstone, Scottish Organiser of the Lorient Festival: ‘Just had an online meeting with the organisers and they anticipate carrying forward the same programme to next year, 6th – 15th August 2021, so all 2020 participants are invited to take part in 2021 instead. Although it is sad news [the event’s cancellation] it is for everyone’s health and safety.’

Patricia Grant requests assistance in finding a trophy missing from Lonach Gathering: ‘I have been asked if anyone knows the whereabouts of the Ben Thomson Trophy. It has been missing for six or seven years. Please advise me if anyone knows who may have been presented with this trophy so that it can be returned. Any information to Jennifer Stewart (Secretary), 01975 651772; info@lonach.org

Posted in News   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *