June 30, 2017

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

#3: Jimmy McMillan

Jimmy McMillan

If there is such a thing as an unsung hero of Canadian piping and drumming, it is James “Jimmy” McMillan. Safe to say that without his dedicated teaching, the careers of Jack Lee, Terry Lee, Andrew Bonar, Robert MacNeil, to name a few, would not be what they became. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, McMillan’s piping benefitted from the years of World War II, when he became Pipe-Major of the Canadian Scottish Regiment, receiving piping tuition at Edinburgh Castle and getting regular lessons from Archie MacNeill, “The Blind Piper,” who actually willed his pipes to McMillan, whose son plays them today. McMillan was a great purveyor of not only his piping knowledge, but that of others, bringing in the likes of Donald MacLeod, John MacLellan, Robert Reid and Bob Brown to the British Columbia scene, with a truly open-minded attitude. McMillan’s influence on Canada’s piping success is incalculable, but is directly attributable to the success of the Lee brothers and the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band.

+ Pipe-Major James McMillan, 1911-2005



  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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