History of the Pipe Band in the 60’s and 70’s
Today’s Edmonton Police Service Pipes and Drums were formed in 1959, when members of the Service, most of whom were Scottish and Irish expatriates, expressed an interest in forming a band. Two years of practice paid off on November 9, 1961, when Chief Constable M.F.E. Anthony gave his official sanction after hearing the members play Scots Wha Hae and the band became the official band of the Edmonton Police Service.
Two necessities for any highland pipe band, especially one representing a well-respected police service, include instruments and regalia. These needs were graciously fulfilled through financial grants provided by the Edmonton Police Force, The Edmonton Police Association, and The City of Edmonton. The partnerships fostered with these organizations remain strong and intact today. The determination as to which tartan the band would wear resulted in a decision to don the Prince Charles Edward “Bonnie Prince Charlie” Stewart tartan. Many police pipe bands throughout Canada and the world proudly wear this highly recognizable and distinguished tartan.
The Pipes & Drums of the Edmonton Police Service stepped off at its first official, fully uniformed parade on the 9th of November 1962, before the City of Edmonton dignitaries and a very proud Chief Constable M.F.E. Anthony. Two days later the pipe band gave its first public performance at the Armistice Day (Remembrance Day) service. This Remembrance Day performance was the first in a long history of tributes to our fallen soldiers as the pipe band has performed at every Remembrance Day service since.
In 1964 the pipe band established an unprecedented relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces when members of the band were invited to perform at the Prince Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment’s “Beat the Retreat”. This was the first time in Canada, perhaps the Commonwealth, when a non-military band performed this centuries old ceremony. The honor was repeated in 1967 when the pipe band was invited to perform with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry’s brass band at Canadas’ 1967 Centennial Military Tattoo.
In 1969 the Commanding Officer of the newly formed Canadian Airborne Regiment invited the band to perform for the first official parade of the Regiment.
The Pipes and Drums of the Edmonton Police Service were presented with the authority to proudly wear the badge of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry on the 4th of February 1972. This honor was repeated when the Commanding Officers of the Canadian Airborne and Loyal Edmonton Regiments presented the band with the authority to wear the badges of their respective regiments. The Edmonton Police Service Pipes and Drums is the only non-military pipe band in the British Commonwealth to have the distinction of being affiliated with and wearing the badges of 3 military regiments!
The band has had the honor to perform before members of the Royal Family on a number of occasions. In 1978 the band performed before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Their Royal Highnesses, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. In 1990 the band performed before His Royal Highness, Prince Michael at the Loyal Edmonton Regiment’s 75th Anniversary ceremony. The band has also had several occasions to play for Lady Patricia, Countess Mountbatten of Burma as well as Prince Charles both in Canada and England.