October 01, 2017

Hundreds salute Reay Mackay

Reay Mackay [Photo: pipes|drums]
More than 300 people gathering in Aurora, Ontario, to pay tribute to the life and memory of the late Reay Mackay, the much-loved piper, teacher and family man who died in March of this year.

+ Reay Mackay, 1939-2017

The banquet hall of the Aurora Royal Canadian Legion was packed with pipers and drummers, friends and family who enjoyed a night of reminiscences and performances. The evening, emceed by Michael Grey, started with Mackay’s younger daughter, Glenna, and her children, Colin and Kayleigh, playing Reay Mackay’s well-known hornpipe, “Colin Mackay,” as well as other tunes by their late father and grandfather.

Later, after tributes from his elder daughter, Sheila Mackay-Wilson, and her family, a mini-band from the Grade 1 Toronto Police performed, followed by solo spots from Toronto Police Pipe-Major Sean McKeown and former Pipe-Major Ian K. MacDonald. Reay Mackay served as pipe-major of the Toronto Police for many years in the 1980s, as well as many years leading the Pipes & Drums of the 48th Highlanders of Canada.

Toronto Police mini-band performs. [Photo: pipes|drums]
Many from Ontario piping and drumming’s illuminati attended the event, including George Campbell, Greg Dinsdale, Bill Livingstone, Jim McGillivray and Bob Worrall, in appreciation of his contributions and fellowship.

Ian K. MacDonald performing at the Celebration of Life for Reay Mackay. [Photo: pipes|drums]
Sheila Mackay-Wilson announced at the event that her father’s long-awaited collection of pipe music should be released in the next few weeks.



  1. Certainly was a very poignant ceilidh in memory of Reay and all his contributions to the world of piping, especially here in Ontario. Personally I am indebted to Reay having met him in Grade 9 at Oakwood C.I. Toronto, said I would like to learn the pipes, and after many lunch breaks with Reay and the practice chanter at his house on Dovercourt Rd., moved on to join the 48th P&D in 1955.

  2. This was a very nice tribute to Reay, I am sure he would have been very proud to have so many people there remembering all the great times with him. I was especially proud to hear how far along his grandchildren have come in piping, he would have been so proud of you both. Someone was walking around taking video asking people of their favorite moments with Reay, I was kinda caught off guard on that one and can think of many great moments with Reay, I mentioned a time when I first came to Toronto and after my lesson Reay asked if I had been familiar with Toronto, my reply to that was not at all, Reay said “ok get your coat we are going for a drive”. Reay took me around the city to some of the tourist areas. Casa Loma, Honest Eds, and many others, I remember that not only was he showing me these great landmarks of this fine city, but he also knew the history of each of them. Another great moment I spent with Reay (which came to me after) was during a lesson he brought out his Accordion, it was the Accordion that he had auditioned for in front of Jimmy Shand (perhaps Jimmy’s son) I can’t recall exactly. Jimmy Shand did not want just anyone to have one of his prized accordions, Reay must have made quite an impression and acquired this very Accordion, Reay explained in great detail every moment of that audition to me and after played several tunes on this accordion. I never had my camera rolling during that session and wished I had, the man was brilliant and I was in awe, as I sat and watched him play with that huge smile on his face in all his glory going from tune to tune, I was so happy to be there and witness it. the man played birls on this accordian (some may say impossible) trust me he did it, he played a better birl on that accordion than I could play on my pipes, haha, we laughed and had such a great time. Thanks to Glenna and all of Reay’s family and many friends who turned out for this event. I got to meet with old friends and meet some new ones. This is exactly how Reay would have wanted it. I thank him and all the joy he brought everyone. Well done and thank you to his family for hosting such a great memorable event. I know if I ever want to see Reay all I need to do is ask Glenna to put on his Tilly Hat. That was unbelievable. Cheers all Steven.



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