October 20, 2017

Memories of Boney

My first real memory of Andrew Bonar was in 1983. I made the trip to the BC Pipers’ Annual Gathering that spring. I was staying at the Lee family house for the weekend (Jack and Terry’s parents) and I was sharing the basement with Boney. He was a student of Jack, and since his folks lived further out in the valley, he was staying for the weekend.

SFU pipers Alison Stewart, Barb MacDonald and Andrew Bonar in the mid-1980s.

He was 16, in his first year in professional piping, and he was already an excellent player. If I remember it correctly, he was second in the MSR that year, his first. Boney was full of life. He related easily to people, and he was a lot of fun to be around.

When Barb and I moved to British Columbia a couple of years later, he was an established and fierce competitor in the solos, and a huge contributor to the Simon Fraser University band. He was also a constant source of mischief and fun. He loved to mimic people in the band, and could accurately make his hands look and sound like anyone’s – from the best to the worst. He often had a grin and a sly comment to break the tension, and yet he was clearly dedicated to the band and the music.

He attended university at the same time as Barb, and they became pals outside of band through their love of competitive volleyball. They played recreational volleyball together, and Boney’s athletic excellence was memorable, as was his competitive strategy.

Andrew’s main pal in the band in those years was Malcolm Bokenfohr – “Boney and Bokey.” They wound each other up, and everyone around them, and their youthful capers were legendary. One year, on the day before the World’s, pipers were sent in small groups to check their pipes after practice, make sure the reeds were well seated, the bores dry, and the details sorted. Andrew, Malcolm, Barb and I went back to a room and as we dried and checked the pipes we started talking about what would happen if a reed fell into the bag at the line.

“Oh, I’d just keep playing,” says Boney. “I could do it!” Of course, this was disputed, and the only thing for Boney was to prove he could do it, so he removed a tenor reed, and tried multiple attacks, with great comedic effect.

“Okay. That won’t work,” he said, and at the same time dropped to the bed to roll with his pipes.

“See, I’d just pretend to faint and then roll so as not to damage the pipes, and then the band wouldn’t get disqualified.”

SFU competing at the World’s, c. 1988, Andrew Bonar nearest right.

Boney once appeared “in character” as a dog at breakfast the morning of the World’s. He barked, whined, panted, ran from table to table eating sausages off people’s plates and those tossed to him, pretended to lift his leg on a band member, and then out the door, to howls of laughter from all. He walked in calmly five minutes later, got a plate, had breakfast, and appeared truly confused if anyone asked him about “the dog thing.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he’d say.

It was hilarious – and odd – and it seemed to me the whole point for him was to ease the morning tension, start the day with some laughs, and get the day rolling with a bit of fun.

From an early age, Boney was an inspirational piper, and over the years, it wasn’t that surprising to see how much he achieved in all aspects of his life, and how many people he affected so positively. Barb and I are deeply saddened by his death, and yet so grateful for having known him.

– Iain MacDonald, Regina, Saskatchewan





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