February 28, 2011

Canterbury Caledonian historic hall demolished in quake; band members safe

The 88-year-old hall belonging to the Canterbury Caledonian Pipe Band organization has been destroyed in the February 22nd earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand.


No band members were in the hall when the structure collapsed, but the group believes that the drums for the organization’s Grade 1 and Grade 3 bands are among the rubble.

The Canterbury Caledonian Society was formed in 1902 and the hall was built on the site in 1923. The building was home to the organization’s Grade 1, Grade 3, Grade 4 and  Juvenile bands, as well as its school of piping and drumming school. More than 200 Highland dancers and Scottish Country Dancers also use the hall for instruction and practice.


According to band member George McEwan, there is a “fantastic collection of historic articles collected over the years to do with all things Scottish.”

The band is hit with 11 days to go before the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships.

“This is going to  severely  hamper our preparations, however, it’s too early for discussion on how the band will be positioned early next week and the level of support and concern from the pipe band world internationally has been mind-blowing,” added McEwan. There was a local centre contest scheduled for Sunday which I would now think has been cancelled.”


So far approximately 75 people are confirmed dead as a result of the earthquake, while hundreds are still missing. Most areas of Christchurch are without running water or sewage services, but power was reconnected earlier today.

“The effects of this event will be very far reaching for the band,” McEwan said.


  1. Having played with the Cale the past 3 years, I had the pleasure of traveling to Christchurch on two separate occasions. I’ll never forget the first time I saw The Dungeon”. The Cale hall was memorizing to me

  2. Sad to see the devastation of the city of Christchurch and, in particular, the Cale’s historic band hall. I’m sure the greater New Zealand Pipe Band scene will extend a hand to ensure that you get through the next few weeks. Many a great night was had in the hall and hopefully many more in the future!! Ian Lyons

  3. Here in Adelaide we are all concerned for the residents of our sister city, Christchurch. Today we saw our premier announce emergency aid that will be sent. Lets hope there are no great tragedies that we are yet to hear about. Brett Tidswell

  4. While I’m sure is much is unknown still about the region, but it was comforting to see that only a building and drums may have been hurt here. obviously there is much more at loss throughout Christchurch. Thoughts are with everyone dealing with this.

  5. For me, the breaking point of the past week was at the end of the late news last night, seeing machinery demolishing the remains of the Caledonian Hall – full of memories of heather tying for Burns nights, jumble sales, learning to ballroom dance by standing on dad’s feet as he danced, having my heart in my mouth as the band descended the stairs as they played to open countless ceilidhs, being so proud of dad piping (a Canty Caledonian band member for 40+ years), being allowed to go down in ‘the dungeon’ under the stage (under strict supervision!), mum presiding over dance classes, lining up for cocoa halfway through Saturday dance classes, the scarey hot water geyser in the kitchen, a zillion memories of childhood, much of which was spent at the Caley. It was as near to ‘home’ as my Scots parents could get, I think. I appreciate the stability we had as a Caley family (my parents were Jim and Jeanie Paton). Allison Lamont

  6. Our thoughts are with the bandmembers of Canterbury Caledonian Pipe Band. Our band would like to make a donation to help purchase new drums. Who do we contact? Rafael Gutierrez, St. Patrick’s Battalion Pipes and Drums, Mexico City.



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