Editor’s Notebook: PPBSO Archive/ RSPBA Chief/ Donald Cameron/ Finlay Drynan/ Captain John

New President Michael Grey has certainly rejuvenated Ontario’s Piping and Pipe Band Society. There’s now new archive material from the Society’s archives available, his latest Newsletter tells me.

Above is film of the innovative Vale of Atholl band under P/M Ian Duncan from the North American Championships at Maxville in 1988.

The blurb reads: ‘This is the last of nine bands to play on Saturday, July 30, 1988. The Vale of Atholl………as a leading Scottish band coming to compete in Ontario, this performance was met with a lot of excitement and anticipation.

‘The grade one contest at Maxville included both march, strathspey and reel and medley performances. Judges visible in this medley section include Geoff Neigh (piping) and John Kerr (drumming). In this contest the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band were the reigning World Pipe Band Champions.

‘The overall results: 1 78th Frasers 2 Vale of Atholl 3 Toronto & Dist. 4 Clan MacFarlane 5 Toronto Police 6 Scotsaire Pipe Band (Windsor, Ontario).

‘Other bands participating ….. were the Canterbury Caledonian (Christchurch, NZ), Victoria Park (Regina, Saskatchewan) and Parlin & Dist. (New Jersey, USA). Best drum corps: 78th Frasers.’

Why don’t we hear that snare effect from drum corps today?


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Chief Exec

I hear a new candidate for the RSPBA’s Chief Executive position is currently working a probationary period. An excellent time to see the workings of the Association at full tilt, given the championship season starts a week on Saturday with the British at Greenock.

We wish the new man well and he could not have a better role model than the retiring Chief, Ian Embelton.


Donald Cameron

I’ve unearthed this picture from the Donald Cameron plaque unveiling mentioned in the report by Dingwall Duncan last week.

The event took place at Seaforth Cottage in Maryburgh, Ross-shire, on June 3rd 2002, and was organised by Inverness Piping Society. Its then secretary, Archie Maclean, is far right welcoming everyone. In the picture can also be seen Iain MacFadyen, Roddy MacCrimmon (father of Gold Medallist Euan) and P/M Andy Venters.

What Duncan did not report last week was that the strathspey Maggie Cameron is named for Donald’s wife and that the reel Sandy Cameron could refer to either Donald’s son or his brother Alick. We’ll keep you right Dr Watson.

Everyone knows the four-parted Maggie. Here are the additional four written by the blind piper Archie MacNeill and mentioned on PP a few weeks back:


Finlay Drynan

I was saddened to learn of the death of my former BB comrade Finlay Drynan aged 73. Playing footballl one day in Haldane Street, Whiteinch, Glasgow, it was Finlay who encouraged me to go with him to the 214 BB where I could learn the pipes. This in 1960.

Finlay was a very good piper and after the BB I believe played with the Clan McRae and Rolls Royce, but I may have that wrong.

Finlay’s funeral is at Dalnottar Crematorium, Glasgow, at 2.30pm on Monday the 23rd May 2022.

The 214BB pipe band in 1966. Left to right: P/M Alex MacIver, Archie Maclean (just visible), Alasdair Ross, Robert Wallace, Hugh MacPhail, Finlay Drynan, Thomas Hamilton, John Morrison (both partially obscured), Kenneth Cope

Captain John Contest

Eagle Pipers’ President Douglas Gardiner: I wonder if you might be willing to advertise on Piping Press that tickets are now on sale for the Captain John A MacLellan MBE Memorial Dinner & Recital Competition on Friday 26th August 2022.

Tickets are £50 and can be bought on the Eagle’s website.

Captain John with Dr Roddy Ross

The pipers are Iain Speirs (three times former winner), Angus McColl (2019 winner), Finlay Johnston (winner of the 2021 Premier Grade piobaireachd at the Captain John MacLellan contest) and Jack Lee (2021 Glenfiddich champion).

Each will play a tune composed by Captain John.  Dr Jack Taylor will determine who wins the bespoke silver medal for best performance. Numbers are limited and we expect demand to be high.

I enclose a lesser known photo of Captain John with Dr Roddy Ross of Binneas is Boreraig fame (above).

3 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: PPBSO Archive/ RSPBA Chief/ Donald Cameron/ Finlay Drynan/ Captain John

  1. Wish I knew the skins played on the vale drums then. That was the era of switching to early kevlar heads. They were a beast to torque down, and gave that flattish full sound that isn’t heard today, but at least they didn’t explode when they finally blew! They became useless once wet however, and many miles were walked with plastic garbage liners tied over the head to avoid rain.

  2. It is always good to know that there is a retired newspaper journalist to correct errors and point out omissions.
    What would we do without them?

  3. Your information on Finlay is correct. I played alongside Finlay in the Clan MacRae Society Pipe Band, including the year that they won the Grade 2 World Championships. For financial reasons, it subsequently morphed into the Rolls Royce Pipe Band. There were many great players around the band at that time including PM John Finlay, Hugh Gibson, Tommy Johnstone, and Jim Henderson (PM of Rolls Royce PB). Finlay was a great player and a real asset to the band. Sorry to hear of his passing away, and RIP.

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