In 1961 in the space of one year the Carleton Place Pipe Band performer publicly testifying to hours of hard work to turn a bunch of beginners into a competent band of musicians. Ex Cameron Highlander proposed the idea to Carleton Place’s Legion Branch #192 to found a band under the auspices of the local legion. They received permission to use the Legion’s name but at that time the Legion was carrying a large debt so they could not help the band financially.
Bill Keen, a piper of over 50 years from Almonte was recruited to act as an instructor along with one cracked chanter and three devoted pupils. As each of them progressed to the real thing from the chanter and the tabletop they used Bill purchased the instrument needed which at that time was $90 for bagpipes and $70 for drums. Their goal was to play publicly November 11, 1959.
Since money was low there was no extra funds for kilts so they all chose a uniform of Grey pants which everyone owned, battle dressed tunics dyed blue, white shirts and Legion ties. As November 11th approached hours of practise took a toll on the band and there was actually a casualty. One of the junior drummers was far too enthusiastic in learning new twirling skills and accidentally hit himself in the nose drawing blood and a week later lost his sticks when he accidentally threw them out the window.
On the 11th they led the Remembrance Day parade in Carleton Place and in the afternoon the town of Almonte welcomed them. The only mishap was that the bagpipes froze slightly–but after everything they had been through that was only a small mishap.
The group practised over the winter but still the issue of uniforms came up– and the money issue was no better. Instead of giving up they held monthly pipe band dances at the Legion to try and solve the dilemma. Along with the monies from the dances the local bank backed a loan for $1000 and an order for kilts, spats, sporrans and hose tops was placed. The kilts from Scotland took about two months to arrive and the first appearance of a well dressed band was at a Legion Hall dance in 1960. There were 14 members of the band at this point and a dozen others practising under Major McGregor of Lanark. The Carleton Place Bagpipe Band in the end became so much more than a band. What would life be without bagpipes?
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 02 Oct 1961, Mon, Page 20
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