Hundreds of pipers piping in Kimberley this summer

Plans being finalized for the Kimberley Pipe Band’s 90th anniversary tattoo

The Kimberley Pipe Band 90th Anniversary Tattoo is shaping up to a major event this summer, as there are now 11 out of town bands committed to attending as well as many local groups taking part.

The Tattoo is scheduled for the weekend of July 14 and 15, 2017. The Kimberley Pipe Band has held previous tattoos on other momentous anniversaries — the 50th, 60th, 70th and 80th. This summer’s may be the biggest yet.

Bands committed to attend are the PPCLI Drum Line from Edmonton, The Angus Scott Pipe Band from Spokane, the Montana Highlanders, the Lethbridge Pipe Band, The Trail Pipe Band, the Kootenay Kiltie Pipe Band from Nelson, the Cowichan Pipe Band from Duncan, the Kamloops Pipe Band Society, the Shuswap Pipe N Drums from Revelstoke, the BC Regimental Band from Vancouver, and the Kalamalka Highlanders from Vernon. That’s 166 pipers in all.

In addition, from the local area, we will have an RCMP Honour Guard from the Kimberley detachment, the Kimberley Pipe Band, the Kimberley Community Band, the Liela Cooper and Hali Duncan Schools of Highland Dance, the Kootenay Dance Academy, the Cranbrook Bugle Band and cadets from the Key City RCACS.

Out of town bands will begin to roll into Kimberley on Thursday, July 13. They will all be staying at accommodation on the ski hill.

The main tattoo program will be held at the Kimberley Civic Centre the evening of Saturday, July 15 at 7 p.m.. The program will be a two hour tattoo music show with over 280 musicians and dancers. This will be followed by a dance — a Ceilidh — with the Johnny McCuaig Band from Nelson. There are only 1100 tickets available for the Civic Centre event and 950 have already sold. In order to attend the Ceilidh, you must have purchased a Tattoo ticket.

However, if you are not lucky enough to get a ticket for the main event, you will still be able to see the bands. At 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 15, following a Rotary Pancake Breakfast at Centre 64, all the bands will parade, following the JulyFest parade route (Centennial Hall to the Civic Centre).

There will also be a free concert by the Cowichan Pipe Band and the BC Regimental Band on Friday, July 14 at noon in the Platzl.

Tickets for the Saturday show are available at and will only be available in advance.

The history of the Kimberley Pipe Band began in 1927 with the arrival of two brothers. Angus Scott, his brother Hamish, and a small group of enthusiastic pipers and drummers, established the Kimberley Pipe Band. At that time, Cominco actively recruited employees who were good musicians, hockey or soccer players as they wanted to have the best teams representing their town.

The band made its first public appearance in the Kimberley Day parade on July 1, 1927. This was followed by a performance for the young Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) and his younger brother George (George VI) who visited the Sullivan Mine that same year.

In the early years, the band performed mostly in Kimberley and the Kootenays, but in 1936 they were to take part in one of the most important events in the history of sport-conscious Kimberley. In that year, the band accompanied the Kimberley Dynamiters to Calgary where the hometown hockey team won the Western Finals, en route to the prestigious Allen Cup. It was the first of many momentous occasions where the talents of the band would be displayed.

In 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, some band members enlisted to fight for their country but the band continued to flourish back home in Kimberley under Pipe Major Alan Graham. In 1943 Mrs. Nessie Oliphant, an accomplished dancer and piper, became Pipe Major. At that time, it was uncommon for a woman to have the role of Pipe Major but the war was to result in women successfully taking on many roles that had been traditionally done by men.

An exciting honour came to the Kimberley Pipe Band in 1971 when the Royal family made a visit to the East Kootenays. Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne made a stop at Fort Steele Heritage Town. This would be the second time the band had played for royalty, but the first time for a reigning monarch.

In 1977, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kimberley Pipe Band, the first Highland Tattoo was hosted. The tattoo was a huge success and was to become the first of a series. Each subsequent tattoo was held to mark a 10-year anniversary.

In recent years, the Kimberley Pipe Band has continued to represent the city at many parades, festivals and competitions in British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Idaho and Washington. On average, the band performs 25 to 30 engagements per year and has a membership of 15 pipers and 8 drummers.

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