Updated: Wilson pipes sell for $13,000 in as-is condition

Published: April 30, 2007
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The MacDougall bagpipe owned by John Wilson of Edinburgh and Toronto and originally acquired by his uncle, John “The Baldooser” Wilson, have sold for $13,000.

The pipes were purchased in as-is condition by Troy Guindon of Ontario. All proceeds from the sale will go to Wilson’s widow, Margaret, who still lives in Willowdale in the home she shared with her husband until his death from cancer in 1979.

 John Wilson's pipes and their distinctive leather case see the light of day for the first time since early 1979.The well known piper Jim McGillivray and David Waterhouse, a professor at the University of Toronto and a pupil of Wilson, convinced Margaret Wilson to part with the pipes. McGillivray facilitated the sale.

Guindon said, “The pipes are going to get the absolute best restoration that money can buy.”

According to Guindon, they will be restored by Thomas Doucet, who works with Dunbar Bagpipes in St. Catharines, Ontario. Doucet has restored several vintage pipes belonging to Guindon, including a set of silver and ivory cocus wood Henderson’s made around 1900.

Reay Mackay, probably John Wilson’s most successful pupil, said, “It is with great joy that I see that John Wilson’s pipes are going to be played again. As I studied with John, perhaps longer than anyone else, I had the privilege of listening to John, and many other master players like: George Duncan, Alex MacNeil, Donald MacMillan, Bill Gilmour, Gord Tuck and others too many to mention play the Baldooser’s MacDougalls. John did on occasion allow others to play his instrument, but only if he knew that they were masters of the task. I too was fortunate enough to play his pipe on occasion.

“I can still remember not just the great playing but also the great sound that was produced. Whether the wonderful harmonics that came from the drones were because of the drones themselves, or the great care that John took in reeding the instrument, or the skill of the player, I don’t know, but I do know that it was a wonderful sound.

“Were I a competitive player at the present time, as in the past, I would truly have tried to purchase the stand for myself, as I would have been so proud to play John’s pipes.”

Several offers for the pipes had been made over the years, including two from prominent Canadian pipers. Margaret Wilson had been unwilling to sell for prices offered, and had hoped that her son or other relative would take an interest in playing.

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  1. geese

    It was interesting to see in his comments, Reay Mackay referring to a stand” of pipes. I haven’t heard that term used in some 50 years but back then it was common usage. It sounds so much more meaningful than just a “set” of pipes!”

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