Traditions - Past, Present and Future
The Pipes and Drums of the Edmonton Police Service is a band steeped in tradition and proud of its police and military heritage. This particular Police Band is very likely the only Pipe Band within the Commonwealth that proudly displays and wears the hat badges of three Canadian military regiments plus their own hat badge. Accordingly, the various orders of dress worn by Band members is, for the most part, Scottish regimental dress with both Canadian and British military influence.
One of these traditions, worn in full dress only, is the wearing of animal pelts by the bass drummer and tenor drummer(s). This distinction originates back to the 1800’s where such pelts were granted to specific army regiments as an honour for meritorious service – usually in Africa. Cougar, bear and leopard pelts were most commonly granted, the leopard having most notoriety as it was considered “Royal Game.”
In the late 1970’s the Band obtained two wolf pelts bearing winter coats. The donation of a cougar pelt (Loretta) followed and a new tradition for the Band began.
The first two wolf pelts came from Eskimo Point NWT courtesy of a snare drummer and band member from the RCMP, Cst. (later Superintendent) Gerry Simmonds. Gerry had to get permission from the Commissioner in the RCMP to wear the EPS pipe band uniform. He was later posted to Eskimo Point (called Arviat since 1989) which is a predominantly an Inuit hamlet located on the western shore of Hudson Bay in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut. While stationed there he came up with the idea of wolf pelts for the band, being the northern most pipe band in Canada. He knew an Eskimo trapper who could supply them and the band agreed to purchase the pelts for $115 each.
Since that time, the Band has accepted subsequent donations when offered as the pelts do age and wear out. In honor of our own and supporting this tradition, replacement pelts have been dedicated to past Band members and named most times by the Band members nickname: “Snarly” in honour and memory of the late Pipe Major John Izatt and “Marmaduke” in honor and memory of the late Bass Drummer Bob Evans.
Our most recent donation and dedication, one that the Band is only too proud to have and to wear (2010), is a wolf pelt named “Jimmy.” Jimmy was an older timber wolf that passed of natural causes at the Alberta Game Farm in 1979. Corporal James Galloway of the RCMP obtained the hide for tanning and kept it in his possession for many years.
Unfortunately, on February 28, 2004, Cpl. Galloway met his untimely death in the line of duty at a man with gun complaint in Spruce Grove, Alberta. A few years later, having recognized the presence of tradition within the Pipes and Drums of the Edmonton Police Service, the widow of Cpl. Jim Galloway, Margaret Galloway, approached the Band with an offer. She wished to donate the wolf pelt to the Band so long as the Band would wear it on parade. The offer was accepted with honour and pride by Chief Mike Boyd.
Following a few modifications to the wolf pelt so that it could be worn by the bass drummer in full dress and on parade, the pelt was officially presented to the Band and worn for the first time at the Alberta Police and Peace Officer’s Memorial Day Parade, September 26, 2010.
The Alberta Police and Peace Officer’s Memorial Day Parade is an annual memorial held in honor of fallen officers within the Province of Alberta. It is held each year during the month of September and appropriately “Jimmy” will be worn and displayed by the bass drummer on all subsequent and future memorials.
What is Full Dress and #2 Dress? Learn here.
Learn about the different pieces of uniform and some history behind the uniform pieces.