Published: April 14, 2015

Ontario back down to one Grade 2 band

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario is back to having only one active member Grade 2 band after the 400 Squadron has chosen to sit out the season as it works to regroup following the loss of Leading-Drummer Mike Tuzyk, leaving the newly upgraded Paris Port Dover to go it alone at most contests in the penultimate grade.

According to Pipe-Major Matt MacIsaac, who took on that role later last year, Tuzyk was in a serious auto crash, and is still on a long path to recovery so has decided to opt out of the L-D role.

The band is on an active search for a new leading-drummer with the ideal candidate having “experience leading a drum corps at a Grade 2 level or higher and preferably live in the Southern Ontario area to facilitate regular practice schedules.” The 400 Squadron offers salaries for those in the part-time military reserve, and also accepts non-military or civilian members. Applications from interested drummers are open until September 4, 2015, taking advantage of inevitable post-season changes-of-plan for members of other bands, and should be sent directly to MacIsaac, who is a sergeant in the reserves.

400 Squadron competing at the 2013 Cobourg Highland Games.

“Our former lead drummer Mike Tuzyk was in a serious motor vehicle accident in late 2014,” MacIsaac commented. “Thankfully he is on the mend, but recovery must take priority and he has decided not to continue in the role. We wish him all the best in the future. I was not able to suitably replace him in time for the upcoming competitive season, so we will be concentrating on practicing, performing, and building our new repertoire while supporting 400 Squadron at some major transitional events this summer. We will see our friends and supporters in the circle next year. Moving forward we’ve got a growing pipe section and some great music coming up, and we look forward to hearing from interested parties.”

MacIsaac took over the band after the retirement of Terry Cleland, who ran the band for nearly 40 years. 400 Squadron often struggled to field a competition band in recent years, occasionally competing with minimum numbers. In 2014 in Ontario Grade 2 usually featured only the Ottawa Police Services Pipe Band. Ottawa Police was elevated to Grade 1 after the 2014 season.

While the Grade 2 category continues to struggle for viability in Ontario, it has resurged elsewhere, particularly in the western United States and Alberta, Canada. Six Grade 2 bands are expected to compete at the Fort Edmonton Highland Games in Edmonton in July.

Commentary on the Grade 2 situation worldwide, at least as it existed in 2013, can be found here.

According to sources, after nearly five years of discussion the PPBSO is hoping to launch a teaching program to help sustain numbers.

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