Dave Ekskog has been Pipe Major for the Kimberley Pipe Band for 38 years.

Dave Ekskog has been Pipe Major for the Kimberley Pipe Band for 38 years.

The end of the Ekskog era for Kimberley Pipe Band

Dave Ekskog steps down as Pipe Major after 38 years

By Liela Cooper

I first met Dave when I was 13 years old.  The pipe band had played at the Blossom Festival Parade in Creston and were playing afterwards in a park.  So, I walked up to the tallest guy in the band and asked him if he would play a Highland Fling so I could dance.  He agreed and the rest, as they say, is history!  Dave has been the Pipe Major of the Kimberley Pipe Band for 37 years.  Under his leadership, our band has represented Kimberley at hundreds of parades for civic celebrations, cenotaph services, weddings, funerals, birthdays, highland games and numerous Tattoo’s. Julyfest parade this summer will be Dave’s last parade.  Although Dave is retiring as Pipe Major of our band, he will remain in the band as a playing member. Since Dave made the decision to retire as Pipe Major of our band, I’ve had time to think of the contribution he has made to our band, my dancers and our community.

Believe it or not, Dave Ekskog actually started his piping career as a drummer!  He was 13 years old when he started lessons. His original drum teacher was Eric Bisgrove, who played, snare, tenor and bass drum  with the KPB for 61 years. After a few drum lessons, Eric suggested he take up piping because the band had a good size drum corps but was in short supply of pipers.   So he took up the pipes instead and never looked back.  His first teacher was Gordon Stewart, Bob Adams for 6 months, then Pipe Major Hamish Scott took over his instruction.

In the summers of 1967 and 1968, Dave attended piping school in Spokane where he formed life long friendships with pipers like Ian MacCrimmon, David Hogg, Maureen Soichuk, Scot Koretgaard  and Dan Deisner.  He also attended piping school in Nelson in 1971.

When Dave started to play with the band in 1965, Hamish Scott was the Pipe Major and Eric Bisgrove was Drum Sergeant.

Dave graduated from Selkirk School in 1969 and began working for BC Hydro…he then got an apprenticeship from Cominco and went away to Nanaimo to trade school.  While visiting his mom in Vancouver, he met his wife Sharon.  They were married in 1972 and the pipe band was present at their wedding.  They made their  first home in Castlegar.  In 1973 they moved to Elkford  where Dave continued to work as a mechanic for Cominco.  While in Trail, he played one year with the Trail Pipe Band.  In 1976, Dave, Sharon and their children Patrick & Stacy moved to Kimberley, where all but Patrick live today. Dave took over as Pipe Major from Jim Warriner in the fall of 1978.

In 1977, the band celebrated it’s  50th Anniversary and Dave played with the band at the Tattoo held in the summer of that year.  During Dave’s tenure as P/M, the band celebrated three more milestones; 60th, 70th and an 80th, all of which came and went with hard work, huge fundraising and great fanfare!  The Band also recorded a CD that year…”Stuck on Track” filled with our most popular tunes.

Dave has always believed that new pipers were the future of the band and has taught chanter and pipes to both children and adult learners.  From 2004 to 2014, Dave gave all the instruction to the Army Cadets in Creston. He drove to Creston weekly to help these students form a Cadet Pipe Band.  In 2010 the Creston cadets amalgamated with Cranbrook so the instruction took place there.  Through his instruction and guidance, the band played in the Sam Steele Days parade in Cranbrook  in 2006 and also competed in Grade 5 at the Canmore Highland Games.  Because of his contribution, he was made Honorary Captain of the Cadets.

In 2013  Dave was the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding contribution this community and to Canada.  Dave was nominated for this Recognition Award by Struan Robertson and Albert Hoglund.

In the summer of 2010 the band auditioned for and was invited to Halifax to participate in the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.  It was an amazing and memorable two weeks for the band, that culminated with a week’s worth of nightly performances at Metro Centre for an audience of over 6,000 per show.  One of the highlights for the band was the July 1st parade through the streets of Halifax with brilliant blue skies and tens of thousands of people waving Canadian flags as the pipe band marched by.  For a small town band like ours, playing for that size of audience, in an excellent venue in, a show as world renowned as the Halifax Tattoo was certainly one that Dave can be proud of.

Over the years, Dave has taught many students around his kitchen table. As Eric Bisgrove said; “if it wasn’t for Dave’s commitment to teaching new students, we probably wouldn’t have a band today….I worked pretty hard too with drummers but not as hard as Dave.”  “When Dave took over as a Pipe Major, a lot of new, strong pipers were coming up as well…we went from playing traditional Scottish tunes to more interesting and challenging music like jigs, reels and medleys …some really great music.”

When his wife Sharon was asked what she thought his biggest accomplishment was, her reply was, “ to teach people how to play well, be successful with it and to have fun”.

What has changed in the band over the past 35 years?  Sharon answered, “ The quality of playing is far superior to what it was years ago. I have seen huge improvement.”

“When I started with the band, families never seemed to be present at functions, now at almost  every parade and event there are kids, wives, parents…very much a family band..our annual band barbecue now centres around families and kids games…”

The band has  always called itself a “working man’s band” and it’s true.  The lessons are given in exchange for the expectation that you will eventually join the ranks and become a playing member. Besides three generations of Ekskog’s…Dave, daughter Stacy and grandson Bradon, there have been numerous families who have played in the band at the same time.  Presently, Lisa, Gerry and daughter Mariah Whitlock, Bill Plant and grandson Isaac, Liela and sister Laura Cooper, Jim Feenstra and partner Tammy Templeton.

The band is not corporately sponsored so, for operating costs, the band relies entirely on fundraising and the money it receives while on parade.  Pipers supply their own bagpipes but everything else you see on parade is funded by the band itself….drums, sticks, uniforms, right down to the laces for the shoes.  Much of the fund-raising effort involves the participation from wives of band members and Sharon was always involved.

The band has competed in competitions at the Canmore Highland Games and, more recently, the Spring Fling.  An annual fun-filled piping, drumming and entertainment event held within the Interior of BC.  This past May, the Kimberley Pipe Band won trophies for Best Dance, Best Skit/Song, 2nd in Dress and Deportment as well as a large trophy for Best Overall Band in the competition held in Kamloops.  A great way for Dave to finish off his career as Pipe Major…don’t you think?  Dave’s last parade as P/M will be Julyfest in Kimberley this July.

After a short break from band, Dave plans to return as a playing member of the band.  Jock MacDonald will take over as Pipe Major with Liela Cooper, Angus Beaton and Jim Feenstra as Pipe Sergeants.

What are you most proud of?

“The current size and playing abilities of the band allows our competition pieces get better every year.  I enjoy watching the success of former students.”

How has the band changed in 37 years as Pipe Major?

“Because of the interment, we have access to so much information and to music.  It allows us to see what every other band, all over the world is doing.  We have more young players in our band.  We play more Jigs, Reels and more exciting and interesting music….that as well as having a drum core that learns new drum rudiments.  Piping and drumming has changed and improved so much, it allows us to put a better product out there on the street.  We also decided to change our uniforms twenty years ago and put away the beloved but detested Full Dress.  We now are so much for comfortable in the Argyle jackets worn now.”

What would you do different?

I don’t know if I’d do too much different.  Over the years, my temperament and patience improved a lot.  It allowed me to be more understanding of people who struggle with learning music and other aspects that come with being in a pipe band. I see so much more commitment by members of the band, they work so much harder to put a great new set of tunes together every year.”

Thoughts on the future of the band?

“No worries at all about the future of the band.  Biggest challenge still remains the working schedule of some of our members. Some work away or are shift workers so it’s sometimes hard to get a full band out to practice on Monday nights or for a parade.”

Jock McDonald, Liela Cooper, Angus Beaton and Jim Feenstra?

“Collectively, they have over 100 years experience with this band.  Jock will do a fine job as Pipe Major.  Liela, Angus and Jim will all want to put out a good product and will do what it takes to help Jock get it done. No worries at all.”


Just Posted

After being forced to cancel in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Wasa Triathlon is being organized for August. Bulletin file photo.
Information released for Gerick Sports Wasa Triathlon scheduled for August

In 2020 the COVID pandemic forced the Gerick Sports Wasa Triathlon to… Continue reading

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Ryan McKenzie of the Kimberley Trails Society made an in-depth presentation to City Council describing the initial steps of the Electrify the Mountains eBike trails project. This is a look at the project one map.
Kimberley City Council hears details on Electrify the Mountain project

At the meeting of City Council on Tuesday, June 8 Ryan McKenzie… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

KSCU Branch Manager Brent Jossy and assistant Manager, Tara Field, meet with David Bellm society President to present cheque. Submitted file
Kootenay Savings supports Indoor Tennis Society

The Kimberley Indoor Tennis Courts Society is grateful to Kootenay Savings Credit… Continue reading

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Most Read