World Class – Powell River Pipes and Drums

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.

imageI 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).

imageLt. 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.

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6 Responses to World Class – Powell River Pipes and Drums

  1. Allan Drummond says:

    Hello Alistair…..I was in the Powell River Company Pipe Band….you can contact me using the email of

  2. Alistair forbes says:

    I would ĺike to get in contact with someone from the Powell river pipe band please

  3. Allan Drummond says:

    Hello: my name is Al Drummond and both myself and my father Ed Drummond were in the band at the same time. We both worked for MacMillan Bloedel. My father has since passed. Thank you for your short story about the band. I had been in a few bands prior to coming to Powell River, but without doubt this was the finest collection of pipers and drummers that I had the honor to play with.

  4. My father is Fred MacLeod. Dad was living in Winnipeg with my mom, Margaret Peterson MacLeod, their daughter Patricia Ann and son Donald Ian, when Dad was offered a job in 1954 at the HR McMillan mill in Powell River AND asked to join HR’s world class pipe band. Dad started playing pipes when he was 4 years old and had been a champion over and over in various competitions throughout North America. Over his life he was Canadian Piping Champion, North American Champion, B.C. Seniors Champion, teacher and judge. At the age of 85, Dad is still residing in the beautiful community of Powell River with Margaret, his wife (my mom) of 64 years, enjoying piping music and reminiscing about his legacy! So proud of you and your accomplishments Dad!!! <3.

  5. Robin Patterson says:

    I was just a kid growing up in Powell River. What a tremendous community. It was wonderful to be lucky enough to see this band in their prime. Tha drummer was absolutely amazing. I do have a cd of their album. I really cherish this album.

  6. priverpress says:

    My brother, Joe Ermacora, was a drummer who belonged to several bands including the Highland Laddie Pipe Band in the early 70’s. He took drum lessons from the best – George Pride. I also have the record album pictured in this article. That band was truly world class.

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