Oldtime Maxville

March 2, 2010 on 8:28 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | 2 Comments

I’ve had this ripped page from a really old magazine ad hanging around my desk for ever – on my handy magnetic bulletin board, to be precise. I don’t know about you but I tend to put stuff up on the fridge or the bulletin board and have every intention of “doing something with it”. Clippings, photos, ticket stubs, all kinds of bits and bobs, I set it aside and the only thing that happens is I forget about it all – and corners curl from age (kinda like pipers). I can’t remember where this particular bit of paper came from. Maybe someone gave it to me. It looks like it came from Popular Mechanics or a mag of similar dimensions. But it’s kind of interesting. So, here’s me doing something with it.

The Worcester Kilties Pipe Band - Maxville, Ontario 1960s
Here we have an advertisement for Canadian tourism – courtesy of an office called, “The Canadian Government Travel Bureau” – no longer in existence. The ad looks to come from the 1960s and the good old days when bagpipes in Canada were treated with mainstream respect. The good old days, too, when pipers and drummers wore the majestic Balmoral hat, just as God intended. And snazzy buckle shoes and frilly plaids, to boot. Wouldn’t Lady Gaga love Maxville in the 60s.

In this picture we see the band seemingly going about a sort of fancy Kiwi-esque marching routine. The sun shines. Happily and blissfully ignorant of the concept known as “political correctness” the band regales the crowd resplendent in sealskin sporrans, their V8 Plymouth Belvederes – with 9 and a half miles to the gallon – idle in the car park. Without the aid of today’s fantastic synthetic bagpipe accoutrements their cane reeds, “elk” hide bags and unmatched pipe chanters help the air “tremble” with “…the sweet, sad breath of the pipes” (so says the advert).

This is Maxville and pipe bands before my time but I do know something of pipe band history – especially in these parts. I am pretty sure this band is the Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band – an American pipe band based in Massachusetts. An American pipe band in an ad for Canadian tourism! Perfect.

The Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band was no ordinary band. One of the oldest pipe bands anywhere, they were formed in 1916 and worked their way to becoming the pipe band of the early 60s in Maxville – and North America, for that matter. With a battery of ex-Shotts, ex-Scots players (Pipe Major Jim Kerr, leading drummer, Davie Armitt, et al) they won the North American championship in the years 1960-1963 [my facts need vetting - friendly suggestion to the current version of Worcester to flesh out the history section of their website].

Close-up of the Worcester Kilties Pipe Band, Maxville, Ontario, 1960s

Anyway, an interesting bit of ephemera. Feel free to pass along facts connected with the photo in the ad. I may have it all wrong.

M.

2 Comments

  1. Nice save Mike. I love this kind of stuff. What do you think is the average age of the pipe section there? Not a young band by the looks of it. I mean THEN, of course…

    Comment by iainmacd — March 9, 2010 #

  2. Thanks, Iain. That’s (not surprisingly) observant of you. Hmmm. I’ve always found that people look older in old photos. Not sure why. I mean, Canada’s second world war-time PM, William Lyon MacKenzie-King is like 37 in this photo and he looks 110. I’d put the average age in this Worcester photo – of faces we can see – at maybe 43. Even if I’m off 5 years the average age of a grade one band today is surely nowhere near 38-43. I’d guess more like 33 .

    M.

    Comment by Michael Grey — March 9, 2010 #

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