Honouring a Canadian piping legend in Ottawa
About 70 friends, family and former military colleagues (also friends) turned out on November 28th to honour Canadian piping legend Bill Gilmour at the Orleans Royal Canadian Legion Branch in Ottawa.
The former Canadian Armed Forces Senior Pipe-Major and the first of five Canadian Regular Army pipers to earn the Piobaireachd Society panel’s acceptance onto the British Army Pipe-Majors’ Course at Edinburgh Castle, Gilmour is now in his late eighties.
Following the original five certified British Army were Archie Cairns, William Stirling, Donald Carrigan and Hugh MacPherson, who helped to organize the event for Gilmour. Macpherson described it as “a wonderful success,” and said that 13 were Gilmour family members who came in from all over Canada.
An impromptu band of 13 pipers and six drummers played, including Dr. George Fraser, former Pipe-Sergeant from Canadian Forces Europe Pipes & Drums who started his career as Medical Officer with Gilmour’s 2nd Battalion The Black Watch (RHR) of Canada.
Also in attendance was Colonel Bruce Bolton, who began his militia career in Montreal as a Black Watch piper, pipe-sergeant, pipe-major, and regimental sergeant-major of the battalion, and finally promoted to lieutenant colonel and commander of the regiment. He’s now honourary colonel of the regiment.
Eastern Ontario piping icon Gilbert Young was there. Young played with Gilmour in the then Air Command (now Royal Canadian Air Force) Pipes & Drums at Rockcliffe, Ontario, as was Bethany Bisaillion, leader of the extensive Sons of Scotland pipe band organization.
Gilmour is one of the most accomplished pipers in Canadian history. In addition to serving with the Canadian military for decades and as pipe-major of the Royal Canadian Air Force Pipe Band, one of the top groups of the last 50 years, and senior Pipe-Major of the Canadian Armed Forces for years, he was one of the most formidable solo competitors of the 1950s and ’60s.
Earlier this year, he entered the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s composing competition.