Published: June 30, 2002

Readers Respond to 78th Frasers’ Maxville Protest News

The May 28, 2002, news story, “78th Frasers Boycotting Maxville,” has received numerous comments from readers. Following are a cross-section of remarks, each taking different views of the matter.

“We are looking forward to the North American Championships this year and are quite disappointed in the 78th’s boycott,” said Ian K. MacDonald, Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band. “I do not agree with the boycott because the prize money handed out for the North American Championships is still heads and tails above whatever contest the 78th will be competing at in lieu of Maxville. Why would a band complain about putting money into our own economy, then turn around and fly into a place where not one penny has ever been given towards its expenses and the prize money not even enough to cover the coach for the day?”

“The organizers of the games have shown poor judgment, very little loyalty and questionable fairness in their treatment of the 78th Frasers,” said one Canadian writer. “I have no problem with a band (e.g. SFU) receiving compensation for performances outside normal competition events. The more dollars they can command and the games can afford the better. They need it and deserve it. But, did the Games Committee consider the contribution and commitment of the 78th Frasers before eloping with SFU? In any event, I for one plan to boycott the Maxville games until I hear a positive outcome to this high-handed treatment of 78th Fraser Highlanders.”

Mike Miller, self-described “disillusioned 78th fan,” said, “Pipe-Major Livingstone seems to feel the Glengarry Games committee owes him something for his past support. Maybe he never got this kind of pay out before. Maybe the Glengarry Games never had their current level of support
before, maybe Glengarry has never had the North American title challenged before. Maybe lots of things. This is here and now. Forget the past. SFU goes well beyond the BC area supporting games and associations. SFU members have been great support to bands up and down the west coast even when those bands would compete against their feeder bands (Robert Malcolm Memorial). Members of SFU are active in advisory positions of the WUSPBA. SFU pays
their dues. This is not something exclusively 78th.”

“I do not like the way the Frasers simply vote with their feet and don’t show up if they have a problem with a contest,” said Ross May, Pipe-Major of the Grade 4 Glengarry Pipe Band. “A band of their talent and ability could be more creative and helpful. If this keeps up then there won’t be a decent Grade 1 contest left in North America. Although, at this rate, Grade 1 will be left with just mega-bands, spending millions to travel to rare contests, if any at all, making the whole grade irrelevant.”

“I am embarrassed for the Glengarry Highland Games committee,” said Graeme Ogilvie, President of the PPBSO’s Ottawa Branch. “I am embarrassed for the SFU Pipe Band, I am embarrassed for the PPBSO, and I am particularly embarrassed for [PPBSO President] Bob Allen. Here’s a person who works his butt off almost every spare moment he has trying to make [the PPBSO] work, who voluntarily donates thousands of hours every year on our behalf, and you seem to take great delight in smugly working to undercut what he is trying hard to accomplish. If you or Bill Livingstone really think there’s a problem with issues related to the PPBSO and associated Highland games, then maybe you should be using your talents to propose solutions, not spout this dribble [sic].”

“Finances are an important part of what we do,” said Gregor Burton. “Most people invest countless dollars, hours of time, and much of their lives to this art. Yet if it is about the money, why then do bands spend $50,000 or so dollars to play in the World Championships when; compared to other, continental venues; the prize money is relatively low? The answer I would hope is pride. The honour of having ones’ band march off the Glasgow Green, and into the beer tent, playing. What else could drive an individual to sweat all day long, or be drenched by rain, to have individuals yell about underblown tone, or botched attacks? Why would a band subject itself to the possibility of being slagged by judges, or have their performance marred by political hodge-podge? Why would an individual give up many of his or her weekends, weeknights, and free time that could be spent with family, all for less then ten minutes of performance? If the answers to these questions have anything to do with prize money or an honourarium, I suggest we all pack our pipes and drums in an attic and take up crochet or some other mundane hobby that does not involve competition. We are all obviously too immature and petty to be involved in honest, fun, and honourable competition.”

Said one Pipe-Major who requested anonymity: “The bottom line is that all the American bands will be disappointed. The Frasers and Maxville are synonymous for most of us.”

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