Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums

Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums – A Brief History

As the story would have it, around and about 1913, two individuals named Morrison and Carruth of a traveling entertainment group called the Tom Marx Kilties started a pipeband in Renfrew.

Sometime during the First World War, the army decided that the 42nd Lanark and Renfrew Scottish needed a pipeband and the Renfrew band became the nucleus for this new military band.

From that time, until 1969 the band, housed in Renfrew, was the Regimental Pipe Band of the 42nd Lanark and Renfrew Scottish.

Sadly, with as part of the Canadian Forces reorg in 1969 the Renfrew Company of the

L & R Scottish closed, the band moved to Pembroke and the group of local pipers and drummers left without uniforms and instruments.

This was the beginning of what we now know as the Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums,
A group of men who were:
– proud of their heritage
– reveled in the camaraderie of their fellow musicians
– possessed a strong sense of community
These men
– fine musicians
– avid Scots
– and as legend would have it – “fun loving”€, decided that they would create their own pipe band

This time however, it would be self-sustaining, belong to no one group or community, and they made a commitment to fiercely guard their independence.

Under the guidance of Pipe Major D.J. McCallum the Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums came to existence. They raised funds – through service clubs, citizens and community support – and “€œkitted” 22 members for parade.

Folklore tells us “discussion ensued as to which tartan to wear” as many claimed Scot lineage and each their own tartan. An executive decision was made. €˜Wherever the Book of Tartans was opened to, that would be the new Tartan for the band. Hence the Buchanan – a tartan that the band had worn for many years.

From 1970 until 2002, the Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums had proudly worn the Buchanan tartan, has benefited from the strong and enduring leadership of the early Pipe Majors D.J. McCallum, Brian Brown, Morris Burton, Clark Smith, Alan Cole,and presently Jim Savage and has shared their joy of culture and music throughout the County of Renfrew – Barry’s Bay, Pembroke, Cobden, Eganville, Mattawa, Arnprior and Renfrew as well as traveled to Smith’s Falls, Brockville, Middleville, Almonte and beyond.

In 2002, after much discussion, the Band entered into the debate of changing their band Tartan as the uniforms had seen many parades over the years and new “kit” was needed ~ should they stay with the same Tartan or take this opportunity for a change.

Again, the members found themselves in the similar situation of their predecessors some 30 years ago, choosing a Tartan that did not represent any one individual or family, and although the Book of Tartans approach could be employed once again, it was not a strategy the group was eager to follow.

So, Through the power of technology, and a keyword search of Renfrew and many random clicks, the Renfrewshire Tartan was discovered, printed in colour for the members to see, and so the connection with Renfrewshire Scotland and a wee Band in the County of Renfrew Canada had begun.

Over a number of months, the Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums had sought and been granted permission by the Tartans creator – David McGill to wear the Renfrewshire Tartan. The Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums is the only pipeband in the world that wears this tartan and they had to have the tartan specially woven for them.

Renfrewshire, in Scotland, is a County which lies to the west of Glasgow and was created in the 13th Century by the Normans. The colours in the tartan, was chosen to symbolize the leading role which the Renfrewshire has played in shaping the history of Scotland.
– Green represents the predominantly rural landscape of the south and east of the County,
– Gold the rich yellow stone, mined in Giffnock and used to build the tenements of Glasgow.
– Blue represents the Firth of Clyde and
– Pale Blue, its tradition in shipbuilding and the trade routes across the Atlantic.
– Black represents the ironstone used to fuel its many industries, and
– Purple to honour the birthplace of Sir William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland.

So, as before, in 1970, the Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums has embarked on a new era, they decided that they would adopt a new Tartan for their pipe band, and ultimately remain true to the course set in 1970 – be self-sustaining, belong to no one group or community, continue to guard their independence and to have fun and enjoy what they are doing.

Over the years the band has been mistakenly called a town of Renfrew band or a Legion Band – in reality they are neither. Rather, it is a self-directed group that has benefited from and greatly appreciates the support of its local community where it practices and has gained from a strong affiliation with the Renfrew Legion Branch #148. The community and especially the Legion have been, over these many years, ardent supporters and, in the members’ opinion, an integral part of their success. They continue to promote the Scottish Heritage of the Valley by performing at different events through out the valley and aboard. Locally, the band entertains the Town of Renfrew with a Scottish Concert in the Park during the months of June and August, in July they usually put on a concert on the front lawn of the Renfrew Legion and of course they have their annual funding raising Robbie Burns Supper in late January. They are always on parade in November to show their support for present and past Canadian Troops for Remembrance Day services in Renfrew, Calabogie, Portage-du-Fort, Eganville and Townships around Renfrew. They can also be found promoting the Christmas spirit in a number of Santa Claus Parades in the area.

While, the band has retired the Buchanan tartan… it is important to note that the Band members of today recognize and salute those who ensured that the Valley did not lose their Pipe Band those many years ago.

Those members of the L & R Scottish – many still with us and some who have gone on – have set a very high standard and sound foundation for the band members today. A special thanks to those very dedicated, and some would say, strong-willed individuals.

The Renfrew Highland Pipes and Drums can trace their roots back to 1913 and is actively planning for the 100th Anniversary of the band in 2013.