Branch 58 Pipes and Drums
The Pipes and Drums of Branch 58 Royal Canadian Legion was
founded in 1927, the same year the Branch received its charter and one
year after the founding of the Legion nationally. Thus, with over 94
years of continuous operation, it is one of the oldest, if not “the
oldest,” Legion pipe bands in Canada. The founding pipe major was
John (Jock) MacFarlane. There was a photograph dated 1927 showing the band on parade in “mufti” with all members wearing tweed peak caps. The bands first uniforms were in the Cameron of Erracht tartan, as worn by the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. P.M. MacFarlane wrote to the colonel of the Camerons in Scotland for permission to wear Cameron cap badges.
Jock MacFarlane was succeeded as pipe major by Alec Stewart and
Alec was later succeeded by his brother Donald Stewart. In 1955,
Donald Stewart retired and was succeeded by Pipe Major James C.
Murray. After a period of fundraising, new uniforms were purchased.
The pipers switched to the Ancient Cameron of Erracht tartan (same
pattern but lighter shades) while the drummers remained in the
original tartan. After a fire in 1961, several uniforms and the drums
had to be replaced. The drummers were then switched to Ancient
Cameron of Erracht tartan as well.
In 1957 Pipe Major Murray began teaching boys for the band.
Many Legion members, including Executives objected to this. They did
not want boys in the band. Of course, many others were delighted. To
get around the objections, the Pipe Major put the boys in the original kilts and said we were to be a separate boys band. After the 1961 fire, the boys were given the same uniforms as the men.
In 1960, Pipe Major Murray began teaching girls. People forgot
all about their objection to boys. They did not want girls in the
band. This time, he declared that they would be a separate girls band, not affiliated with the Legion. They wore in Murray of Tullibardine tartan kilts, all personally made by Jimmy himself. They were called “The Murray Girls Pipe Band.” Even though the girls had the numbers, the two bands continued to play as one. The girls were also taught Highland Dancing by Jeannie Forgan and danced when the band performed. In the late 60’s Jimmy Murray made Murray kilts for the men so that we would all be the same on non Legion parades. Eventually, the Cameron kilts were retired and the two bands amalgamated. In 1980 Pipe Major Murray suffered a heart attack and had to retire. He died of cancer in 1985. He was succeeded by his son, James A. Murray. In 2019, a series of health issues impeded Jimmy's ability to continue as Pipe Major. He remains involved in the band, helping with teaching. He was succeeded by long time Pipe Sergeant Doug Tulloch
After some fundraising and with the aid of a Wintario grant,
new uniforms were purchased to replace the worn out uniforms. We
switched to Ancient Murray of Tullibardine tartan.
Note: The term “Ancient” tartan is a misnomer. In the olden days,
natural vegetable dyes were not colourfast. After several washings
and exposure to the sun, the colours would become very faded. “Ancient”
tartans imitate these faded colours. Thus, an “Ancient” tartan could
have been invented yesterday.