Canada’s City of Victoria Pipe Band Celebrate 50 Years Since Their Founding

The City of Victoria Pipe Band, British Columbia, Canada, was formed in the autumn {fall) of 1972. Although the band ceased operations a number of years ago, past members met recently, celebrating the 50th anniversary of its formation.

By Peter Aumonier

Organised by Colin Magee and Gord Pollock, the band gathered at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Victoria, BC, for cocktails, an excellent meal, and an evening of story telling and reconnection.

A number of people were in attendance, though some notables couldn’t make it. Some of those who were unable to attend, called in on a large screen via the internet. 

Colin began the evening with a toast to the memory of those members who have passed, as well as a toast to the memory of the Highland dance teacher Adeline Duncan. For years, Adeline allowed the band to use her famous Highland dance studio at the corner of Broughton Street and Government Street for twice weekly practices. 

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The band’s motto was ‘Cluich le Ceol Binn’  (Play the Sweet Music).  Led by P/M James Troy, P/S Steve Geddes, and L/D John Fisher, the band made its mark on the competition field and in the recording studio.

It was at Nottingham at the Worlds in 1979 [see results below] that the band had its finest hour placing sixth in Grade 1 with many believing it should have been placed much higher and even winning the competition. It was – with another BC band Triumph Street placing fifth – a remarkable achievement at a time when no overseas bands had ever featured in the top six before.

Many pipers and drummers, from the west coast of Canada, learned their craft in this band under Jamie’s tutelage. Several went on to great success: Terry and Jack Lee, Bruce Gandy to name but three.

There were dozens of others. Unknown to many, Hal Senyk, the original P/M of Triumph Street, had a stint in City of Victoria. David and Shaunna Hilder, who would eventually lead Triumph Street in more recent years, also had roots in CoV.  

Notable composers Colin Magee (Troy’s Wedding) and  Rene Cusson (Bruce Gandy’s Farewell to the Ironhorse) began their composition work while with the band.

Colin’s son, Gordon, went on to play with the Strathclyde Police (during Harry McAleer’s time as P/M where he also started his policing career). 

To mark the 50th Anniversary of the band’s founding, P/M Troy was presented with the mounted score of a piobaireachd, A Salute for P/M James W. Troy, composed by myself:

Peter Aumonier presents the tune to P/M Troy

James P Troy, Jamie’s son, and Gordon Magee entertained the group with some piping and drumming, featuring tunes from the band’s old recordings. Here is one. It’s a short drum solo followed by Jesus Christ Superstar and Farewell to Nigg:

It was a wonderful evening out on the Paciic coast of Canada where great things happened half a century ago under Jamie Troy’s leadership. It’s something that I am sure will always be recognised and remembered by the pipe band community around the world.

  • Worlds 1979, Nottingham, Grade 1: 1 Strathclyde Police 2 Dysart & Dundonald 3 Shotts & Dykehead 4 Lothian and Borders Police 5 Triumph Street 6 City of Victoria. Drumming: Triumph Street; Judges: R McRoskie (piping), Capt. J MacLellan (ensemble), J Gray (drumming).


6 thoughts on “Canada’s City of Victoria Pipe Band Celebrate 50 Years Since Their Founding

  1. I still have that album in a rack next to me and have a digital copy I made. I am surprised the album still plays as I would have thought I wore it out playing it. I recall sitting for hours listening, moving the needle back track to track. As a young piper in California, having such great music played nearby was a great inspiration. It was even better to see them at the Santa Rosa Games from time to time. Congrats! and thanks for leading the way out west!

  2. There are moments when you realise that you are listening to something special and like Pat and Danny above, that was the case that day in Nottingham. Congrats on 50 years

  3. Great article Peter! It’s amazing I’ve known you guys for all these years. Jimmy was so proud to be there for the reunion. I remember RG was really angry that the band was so far down the prize list at Nottingham and Aberdeen. He was not fond of any judging panel in those days!

  4. I was standing with Patricia Henderson when the band played at Nottingham. When they played the 3rd part of Biddy From Sligo (I think) Pat turned to me and said, “Good grief,” and I replied, “Well that’s this contest over.” I didn’t hear Triumph Street in the contest, but I do remember their drum corps was rockin’! Two years later at Aberdeen City of Victoria played even better. Again 6th or 5th. After the massed bands I met Peter Aumonier on the way across the field and apologised for the SPBA refusing to allow the Worlds to leave Scotland!

  5. How wonderful! I so remember City of Victoria PB, and became friends with some of their members. What I recall, amongst many memories, was their sheer presence in competitions throughout the Northwest US and Canada. When they marched in from the line, James and Steve always looked like they could chew nails. The intensity was matched by the quality and beauty of music they delivered.

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