From the Beginning of the 48th Highlanders there
have been pipers present. Pipers Charles Munro and
George Murray were the first two company pipers.
They played while Captain Henderson drilled the men
at Bailey's Hall.
An efficient pipe band is the pride of every
commanding officer of a highland regiment. It was for
this reason Pipe Major Robert Ireland, reputed
to be the best piper on the continent, was recruited to
serve as the first Pipe Major of the 48th Highlanders in
1891. During his tenure, the band was fully organized
with a total strength of 19; 14 pipers and 5 drummers.
Pipe Major Ireland's leadership helped the pipe band
to become famous in only a few years. Robert Ireland
started playing pipes with the 93rd Sutherland
Highlanders, later moving to New York City until taking
over as Pipe Major of the 48th Highlanders in Toronto.
He won many solo piping contests held in North
America at that time.
Subsequent to Pipe Major Ireland, the band has had a
succession of highly qualified pipe majors. Mr.
Norman MacSwayed replaced Pipe Major Ireland in
1895. Pipe Major MacSwayed was an accomplished
Piobaireached player in Scotland. In 1900, Mr.
Farquhar Beaton became Pipe Major. Pipe Major
Beaton was a successful instructor and introduced
the playing of parts in pipe bands in Canada. Upon
hearing the Green Hills of Tyrol played in this manner,
the Earl of Aberdeen, Governor General of Canada
recommended that this type of playing be cultivated
and to this day is still an integral part of the band's
In 1913, James Fraser was recruited from the Gordon
Highlanders to take over as Pipe Major after serving
21 years as a piper with the Gordon Highlanders
seeing action in India. Pipe Major Fraser would
remain as Pipe Major for 39 years teaching many
students and supplying Canada with a wealth of well
tutored players. In 1952, Archie Dewar,CD took over
as Pipe Major followed by Ross Stewart, MMM, CD in
1965, CWO Reay MacKay, CD in 1975, and CWO
Alexander (Sandy) Dewar, MMM, CD in 1985 to 2007.
MWO Iain Lang was appointed Pipe Major in Feb 2007.
The Pipes and Drums have always worked hard to
continue the quality of performance under every Pipe
Major. Pipe Major Archie Dewar lead the band to
numerous awards in competition followed by Reay
Mackay and Archie Dewar's son Alexander "Sandy"
Under the direction of Sandy Dewar, the Band won the
North American Championship for Grade Two Bands
in 1988 and 1993 as well as the Ontario
Championship Supreme in 1994. In 1995, they were
moved up to Grade One Competition.
Over the years the band has travelled extensively
around the world. In the past they have performed at
the 1934 Chicago World's Fair, The Edinburgh Tattoo
and the Wembley Military Tattoo. They performed
throughout Holland to mark various anniversaries for
VE Day, most recently in 2000. The band is called
upon to play at many shows and festivals throughout
the United States and Canada. Performances include
the Nova Scotia Tattoo in 1987 and television shows
such as the Ed Sulivan Show, and the Miss Canada
Pageant. Several documentaries, such as For King
and Empire, have used the bands recordings. The
band has travelled to Estes Park, Colorado;
Pleasanton California; the Citadel, Charleston SC;
Fort Hood, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Glasgow,
Kentucky, Fort Ticonderoga, Quebec City, Italy, and
The band also performs at many Toronto area
functions and supplies soloists for weddings, head
tables, dinners, and funerals. The 48th has played at
the Toronto Maple Leafs opening Hockey game since
1931 and became a fixture at Maple Leaf Gardens on
Opening Night. In 1999, the Band lead the parade
from Maple Leaf Gardens to the new home of the
Toronto Maple Leafs, The Air Canada Centre, where
they continue to play for the opening hockey game
As well as competition and tattoos, band members
who are also members of the Canadian Forces (CF)
are required to satisfy musical trade tests
administered by the CF School Music Center
(CFMusC) as well as courses in basic combat
knowledge and leadership throughout their military
career. The Pipes and Drums play an important role in
the CF supplying music for parades, remembrance
services, mess dinners, and special functions.
Members of the band have also participated in
assignments such as the Ceremonial Guard in
Ottawa and instructors at the CFMusC, CFB Borden.
The Pipes and Drums currently have a nominal role
that includes both military and volunteer civilian
members. The band has excelled in both civilian and
military duties, becoming world famous for their
-submitted by Pipe Major Iain Lang
48th Highlanders Website
Motivating the Troops
Pipers were present in clan battles nearly 3000 years
ago and continue to be present in war today. There
were pipers in both World Wars, the Gulf War, Desert
Storm, the Boer War and more.
The pipes were used as an incentive to battle,
motivation for the troops, and intimidation of the
enemy. They celebrated victories and mourned the
fallen. Drums were used as a motivation,and for
communication. They signaled orders, tactical
maneuvers, and firing of weapons.
were not only soldiers, but morale boosters.
Thousands of pipers died while playing their men into
battle, as they could not carry a weapon and their
pipes at the same time. This was a great act of
bravery. Below is one such example of this bravery.
James Richardson, or Jimmy as he was known, was
born in Scotland and moved to Chilliwack, BC with his
family at a young age. He had won 3 gold medals in
piping competitions in BC. He was noted for his
bravery at a young age when he tried to save a
Enlisting in the army in 1914, Jimmy was
assigned to the 16th Infantry Battalion Expeditionary
Force. He served in Belgium and France as a soldier,
piper, and cook.
On one occasion, Jimmy advanced alone beyond
Canadian lines into a thick dark forest. He stumbled
upon a farmhouse and realized that he was
surrounded by German soldiers. Although he tried to
hide in the grass, a German officer signaled the
others in his direction. Bravely, Jimmy quickly shot
the officer and ran as fast as he could back to his own
camp. He informed the others and the artillery quickly
took care of them.
The Battle of Somme in 1916 was one of the bloodiest
battles in WWI. Jimmy was at the Regina Trench. On
October 9th, he was granted permission to go in with
a planned assault. In the early morning, the
Canadians, including Jimmy, left the safety of the
trenches and advanced upon the Germans. They
came upon heavy barbed wire stretching 400 yards.
It hadn't been cut by artillery as they had planned.
Heavy gunfire came from the German lines and the
Canadians scattered for cover. The outlook was
grim. Jimmy asked the Sergeant Major if he should
play his pipes and was confirmed.
According to the official citation, Piper
Richardson piped up and down outside the wire,
playing his pipes with "the greatest coolness".
Inspired, the Canadian soldiers rushed the wire with
fury, overcame the obstacle, and captured the
position. Later, Jimmy was sent to take a wounded
soldier and prisoners back to camp. After about 200
yards, Jimmy realized that he'd left his pipes behind
and insisted on recovering them. He never returned.
Jimmy was buried at Adanac Military Cemetery,
France. He was 20 years old. Jimmy was awarded the
Victoria Cross, the highest honor. He is the only
Canadian piper to receive this award.
In 2000, a project at a private school in Scotland sent
out an email to identify the tartan on a set of old, mud
and blood covered pipes with a bullet hole that had
been kept in the school for over 75 years. The pipes
had been found after the Battle of the Somme and
were kept as a souvenir. It was discovered that the
tartan belonged to the 16th Canadian Expeditionary
Force. A collective effort of research led to conclusive
evidence that these were the pipes that Piper
Richardson had gone back for and never returned.
The pipes were returned to British Columbia in 2006
and are on permanent display in the British Columbia
49th Battallion Pipes & Drums
The 49th Battalion Pipes & Drums has been busy and
successful over the past year or so. Playing
engagements included several mess dinners, Royal
Canadian Legion functions, whisky tastings, the
Regimental Association dinner, churches, private
functions, and competitions. The three highlights of
the past year were a playing trip to Scotland in May
2007, winning prize at a band competition in August
2007, and the honour of playing Bonnie Dundee to
march out the Regimental Colours at the Centennial
Anniversary Dinner this past April.
Thanks to a generous invitation from Honourary
Colonel Sandy Mactaggart, the pipe band was able to
experience true Scottish hospitality.
We realized every Canadian pipe band's dream by
spending six days on Scotland's Isle of Islay in late
May 2007, performing at various events in Feis Ile, the
island's annual Festival of Malt & Music. Islay is a
beautiful place steeped in history and lore. The
people we met were warm and welcoming and it was
an amazing experience to be a part of this island's
annual whisky festivities.
In August the pipe band competed at the Fort
Edmonton Highland Games. The weather was hot,
the beer was cold, and much to our surprise the 49th
Battalion Pipes & Drums won second place in the
Grade V competition, along with a cash prize. Thank
you to all the members who came out and withstood
the heat in those wool-blend tunics and heavy kilts.
Purchase of a limited number of full dress uniforms
began in the late fall of 2007and continued through
this past winter of 2008. By April, the band had
acquired enough full dress uniforms to completely
outfit eight pipers and drummers in black doublets
and full plaids!
The new uniforms made their debut at the Regiment's
Centennial Anniversary Dinner on 5 April and were
well received by the Eddies in attendance. The pipe
band played the Regimental set of pipe music then
led out the Colours to the tune of our regimental
march Bonnie Dundee. It was an awesome sight to
The pipe band is currently working toward raising
money for eight more full dress uniforms and will be
busy over the next year playing at as many functions
as possible to fulfill that end.
Attired for the first time in their new Full Dress
uniforms, the band played for the Centennial
Anniversary Dinner on 5 April 2008.
The members of the 49th Battalion Pipes & Drums
would like to thank everyone within the regimental
family for their continued support.
It remains also to thank our former Pipe Major,
Sergeant Lance MacFadzen, for his efforts in getting
the band up and running, and leading us for five
-submitted by PM Mark Denney
There are some simple things that everyone can
do to support the troops:
Wear a Poppy;
Wear Red on Fridays;
Wear a yellow Ribbon;
There are Tim Horton's on many large military
bases. They can accept paper gift certificates.
For more donation information, go to the Canadian Forces Personnel & Family Supprt
If you would like to see your pipe band featured in
one of our newsletters, send us an email with a band
photo and a short write up about the band. Feel free
to offer some tips or advice that has proven useful to
your band. Include any links or videos that you would
like us to post.