October 31, 2000

A Prodigious Historical Work

Pipers of Nova Scotia
Biographical Sketches 1773-2000
Compiled by Scott Williams
260 pages

Available from Scott Williams Publishing, 43 Hillcrest Street, Antigonish, Nova Scotia B2G 1Z2 Canada

Wouldn’t it have been great if a Glaswegian piper in 1920 decided to put together a synopsis of important pipers to have lived in the area since 1700? What a mother load of information that would be today. Sadly, nothing even remotely like it exists because no one apparently had the wisdom, energy, foresight, and money to do it.

Eighty years from now they surely won’t be saying that about Nova Scotia piping, mainly because of an exhaustive new book from Scott Williams, Pipers of Nova Scotia, Biographical Sketches 1773-2000.

Through the impressive 260-page work, Williams catalogues more than 1600 significant pipers who lived in Nova Scotia, from the arrival of the first Scottish settlers to today’s important teachers and players. Short biographies are presented, ranging from the legendary to the obscure. Many of the stories and legends Williams captures have been passed down orally through centuries, and, for lovers of piping trivia and lore, the book is a phenomenal resource of interesting material.

Obviously, in compiling so many biographies in a single book, more information will exist on some people than others. Generally speaking, the more recent the person lived, the more available the information, and pipers currently alive receive the largest sections in the book. We can’t help but notice that Williams reserves nearly seven pages for himself, while a more recognized piper like Barry Ewen gets only three. It’s only fair, though, since Williams’s contribution with Pipers of Nova Scotia, Biographical Sketches 1773-2000
and other significant books and music collections will forever hold his place in Nova Scotia piping history as an important contributor to the art.

Pipers of Nova Scotia, Biographical Sketches 1773-2000 can only be seen as a prodigious labour of love by Williams. It must have taken hundreds of hours to compile, write, and publish, and, 80 years from now, pipers of Nova Scotia, Canada, and the rest of the world will be better off for it.


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