Published: March 31, 2001

Sybil MacPhee

The halls were quiet at the Glengarry School of Piping & Drumming. The lady who has been the mainstay of the school since its creation in 1967 passed away on Thursday, February 8, after a brief illness.

Sybil MacPhee of Dunvegan, Ontario, known far and wide in her various roles as secretary, treasurer, recruiter, scheduler, music resource, historian and archivist for the Glengarry School of Piping & Drumming no longer carries on her discreet networking among students, teachers, parents and information seekers – the professionals and the fledgling beginners.

Sybil carried, in that quick and discerning mind, an encyclopaedic repertoire of information, which included all people and things necessary to the Celtic music culture. And yet she had a quiet and unassuming nature. She would be shocked to see her name in this publication. She was always courteous and mannerly in her encouragement of developing musicians, in her support of weary parents, in her finding replacements for teachers and in her gracious preparation of coffee, juice and home-made cookies for everyone.

Behind Sybil’s modest smile and girlish chuckle was a quiet determination to persevere, a rock solid belief in the importance of her role as the hidden rudder, which would steer the school through often choppy waters, as it advanced its course, over the past thirty-three years.

Sybil’s dreams for the school and her ideals of excellence, came through her attachment to the old country. She visited Scotland regularly. And she truly loved the music. During the Maxville Highland Games, her greatest joy was to sit for hours listening to the professional piping competitions.

As a young girl she wanted to learn the pipes herself, but in those long ago days, it was not considered “proper” for a young lady. So she lived her dream vicariously, through the many hundreds of students who, she ushered into the school and through its halls, year after year – always showing and helping and caring – in her quiet but confident way. We, who are left to carry the torch, can only say a sincere, “Thank you, Sybil.”

– contributed by Brian Williamson, Ottawa, Ontario

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