Thanks to former Powell River resident Terry Day for the following information about Powell River Pipes and Drums. Also included, a paragraph from the Powell River Museum’s archives.
I have one of the limited edition CDs of the Powell River Pipes and Drums. It was given to me by Hugh Westie, son of Pipe Major Dave Westie. The drumming on the CD was led by George Pride. George Pride’s world class drumming techniques was studied by drummers from all over the world. (George was also an avid swimmer who took a daily swim in the ocean at Willingdon Beach).
Under the leadership of Dave Westie and George Pride, the Pipe Band of MacMillan Bloedel and Powell River Ltd. , as it was originally named, won the BC Championship at Vancouver in 1958, 1959 and 1960. They also won the Pacific International Class “A” Championship in 1960. The band won the class “A” championship at Los Angeles and San Fransisco as well as Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. All members of the Pipe Band were employed at the Powell River pulp and paper mill.
(Rumour has it that when the Pipe Band was returning from a trip to the USA and had crossed the border back into BC, they were carrying contraband. They had removed one of the drum heads and neatly stored inside were several, or more, bottles of whiskey).
Lt. Col. John MacGregor, a rather famous person in his own right, was the first band president and the band adopted the MacGregor tartan as their official uniform in 1939. The band’s longest trip was in 1940, when it travelled to Texas and California for an entire month, promoting the Powell River Company and representing our town in numerous competitions. The band’s most successful years came in the late 1950s and early 60s when they won the Class “A” Pipes and Drums championships in six consecutive years (1958 – 1963), held in various cities on the west coast of North America. (Pic Cred: Powell River Historical Museum archives).
In 1960, MacMillan Bloedel took over the Powell River Company and the drummers adopted the MacMillan tartan, though the pipers continued to wear the MacGregor. Throughout their history, the Powell River Pipe Band played in numerous venues, including the Seattle Sea Fair, Grey Cup parades, PNE parades, Portland Highland Games, Victoria Highland Games, Seattle Highland Games and the Worlds’ Fair in Seattle. They have also won every major contest in the Pacific Northwest and in 1961, recorded an album entitled, “Pipes and Drums of Powell River.” Although now formally defunct, some volunteers and old members gather to play at special occasions.
Many band members were world class drummers and pipers. Are there any band members still residing in Powell River or beyond? Let us know by leaving a comment below.