June 30, 2017

Canada 150: the 15 Greatest Canadian Pipers & Drummers (deceased)

#6: Reay Mackay

Reay Mackay

There might never have been such a beloved personality in Canadian piping and drumming than Reay Mackay. Another stalwart member and leader of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, Reay Mackay also led the Grade 2 Metro Toronto Police Pipe Band, and served for decades as a solo and band adjudicator with the PPBSO. He was the legendary John Wilson’s longest-tenured pupil, and he passed along his knowledge freely, travelling most North America to conduct workshops and impart his cheerful wisdom as a true ambassador of the best of Canadian piping. He competed in solo piping for a relatively short time, but for 10 years was virtually unstoppable as a prize-winner. Reay Mackay was also a composer of note, creating, among other tunes, the hornpipe “Colin Mackay.” An accomplished accordion player, he applied his knowledge of harmonies to pipe bands, making him a world progenitor of creative medley orchestration. He was made a life member of the PPBSO for his service to piping and drumming.

+ Reay Mackay, 1939-2017



  1. Nice work! John Wilson published 3 collections of pipe music, the third being the Canadian Centenial collection…all three of which I continue to use and teach my students today…

    Mike Baker

  2. It is interesting that none of the excellent 15 selected musicians appear to be players who played predominantly for dancing. Today, we seem to be band players, solo competitors or piobaireachd pipers. Would there be any interest in a list of 150 ceilidh/dance pipers.



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