Grade 1 at Maxville likely only one band
The North American Pipe Band Championship could be a formality this August due to the probability that only one Grade 1 band will enter.
The Toronto Police Pipe Band is so far the only group confirmed to be planning to compete at what is supposed to be the continent’s most prestigious competition.
The 78th Fraser Highlanders, 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) and the Peel Regional Police have all said that they do not plan to attend the Maxville, Ontario, event, which typically has no fewer than four bands in the contest. The Grade 1 Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band had said when it announced in March its search for a new lead-drummer that it hoped to compete at the event, but Pipe-Major Andrew Hayes has now confirmed that the group will not attend.
After publication of this article, Hayes confirmed that his band would not compete at all in 2017.
In the cases of the 78th Fraser Highlanders and Peel Regional Police, both bands are planning to compete in Scotland’s competitions at North Berwick and Bridge of Allan as tune-ups for the World Pipe Band Championships on August 11-12 in Glasgow. With the Glengarry Highland Games at Maxville August 4-5, the bands have opted out of vying for their continental championship in favour of the getting to the small Scottish events.
The 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) will compete at only a few contests outside of their more local events in the Canadian Maritimes due to availability and finances of members, according to Pipe-Major Alex Gandy.
The Toronto Police Pipe Band, according to Pipe-Major Sean McKeown, “wanted to support the contest,” adding that some members will fly out to Scotland the night of August 5th, and others the following day. Bill Livingstone, a piper with the band, will be honoured at the Glengarry Highland Games as the event’s Honoured Guest, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the games.
78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe-Major Doug MacRae said that the decision to choose Scotland over Maxville was difficult, but for the greater good of the band.
The continent’s other top-grade bands, Dowco Triumph Street of Vancouver; the Los Angeles Scots; and Simon Fraser University, also of Vancouver, apparently have no plans to make the more than 4,300 kilometre journey. The Stuart Highlanders of Boston by their request were downgraded to Grade 2 by the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association after the 2016 season.
While the Grade 1 competition is seen by most as the pinnacle of the North American Championships, the Grade 2 contest often attracts 10 or more entrants. It is not known how many Grade 2 bands plan to compete at the competition.
A representative from the Glengarry Highland Games had not responded at publication time to a request for comment and the question whether the event will take other measures to bolster the Grade 1 competition.
The 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation as a country is also being celebrated in 2017.