The Kingston Pipe Band of Kingston, Ontario, has finalized a transition to be aligned with the Kingston Police force to become the Kingston Police Pipe Band beginning in early 2018.
The project is the fruition of the work of piper John McKay and drummer Scott Nicholson, who in 2015 set out to formalize teaching in the area to the point where the group now has more than 25 members. A few members have been sworn in as Kingston Police Volunteers, and the group has moved to new permanent practice facilities at the Boys & Girls Club in downtown Kingston. The Boys & Girls Club is also a partner in the venture.
McKay is a member of the Grade 1 Toronto Police Pipe Band and Nicholson has played with the Grade 1 78th Fraser Highlanders and Spirit of Scotland. They will serve as teaching Pipe-Major and Lead-Drummer, respectively, when the band enters competition in Grade 5 in 2018.
“There is nothing of this kind in the area and we have a grand vision for where we can take this as not just another pipe band but a greater community venture working with underprivileged youth to foster overall growth and development through music and social connectivity,” Nicholson said.
The historical city of Kingston is the original capital of Canada, and in 2017 is celebrating its 175th anniversary. The city has strong Scottish roots, with Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, a native Scot, settling in the community.
Since the fall of 2016 the band has offered free lessons, relying on donations and using borrowed drums and chanters to support the project.
The official transition to the Kingston Police Pipe Band identity is scheduled for early 2018 after approximately $70,000 are raised from sponsors and donors for new uniforms and instruments. The group will represent the Kingston Police in parades, ceremonies, municipal events and competitions, with members subject to a code of conduct and Kingston Police operational procedures, including the requirement for background checks of playing members.
The group hopes to adopt Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board examinations as part of its teaching program and is in discussions with the local school board about applying high school arts credits from the program. The PDQB is a joint effort in Scotland that certifies qualifications offered jointly by the Army School of Bagpipe Music & Highland Drumming, the College of Piping, the National Piping Centre, the Piobaireachd Society and the RSPBA.
The Kingston area since 1953 has supported the Rob Roy Pipe Band organization, which includes Grade 3 and Grade 5 bands and an extensive teaching program for piping, drumming and Highland dancing. The organization puts on the successful and popular Kingston Scottish Festival each May.
In addition to the Toronto and Kingston Police forces, other competing bands with police affiliation in Ontario include the Grade 4 Durham Regional Police, Grade 3 and Grade 5 Hamilton Police, Grade 4 Niagara Regional Police, Grade 1 Ottawa Police Service, Grade 2 Peel Regional Police, and Grade 3 Windsor Police.