From Halifax, Canada, Brian is a retired Canadian Forces Pipe Major.
What kind of pipes and chanter do you play?
My bagpipe is a Peter Henderson model PH05H, which I purchased in 2013. My solo chanter is the Peter Henderson blackwood chanter.
Where do you hail from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Picton, Ontario, Canada, but as an Army ‘brat’ I lived in a variety of places including Petawawa, Ontario; Lahr, Germany; Chilliwack, British Columbia; Edmonton, Alberta; and North Bay, Ontario. My father’s final posting was to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1985. In 1989, I joined the military and after basic training was posted to the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (2RCR) stationed in Oromocto, New Brunswick. In 1996 I rebadged to the CF Music Branch and was posted to the Canadian Forces School of Music at CFB Borden; and in 1998 I was posted to CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia, as Pipe Major. After retiring in 2004, I moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I have resided since.
Tell us about your piping career. When did you start? What bands have you played with?
I began lessons in 1975 at the age of seven. At the time my father was a piper with the CFB Lahr Pipes & Drums and I would go to practices with him and decided that I wanted to play too. As we moved to different postings I played with different bands. These included the Royal Canadian Army Cadets P&D; the Callandar Legion PB in Ontario; and the Clan Farquharson PB in Bedford, NS. After I joined the Army my own postings allowed me to play with the 2RCR P&D; the St. Andrews Society of Fredericton PB; the CFB Borden P&D in Ontario; the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) P&D; the 48th Highlanders P&D; and the 14 Wing P&D in Greenwood, NS. On retirement, I joined Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) P&D in Halifax; the Dartmouth & District PB; and I now play with the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel).
What has been your proudest moment in piping so far?
A successful competition year with the 2RCR in 1990 is still a proud memory. On a more visceral level I had the opportunity to perform at the Vimy Memorial and the Menin Gate with the RCMP P&D in 2014 and again in 2015.
What has been your most stressful moment?
Piping is generally very relaxing for me but reentering the solo competition circuit in 2016 was a bit nerve wracking.
Who were you taught by?
Lessons began with P/M John Huggins in Lahr, followed by Padre Bill Fairlie in CFB Chilliwack; P/M Archie Cairns and P/M Bill Gilmour while with Cadets; and P/M Fred Alderman while at the CF Music School for the P/M Course. I also had the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge from seminars presented on the Canadian Forces P/M Course by P/M Robert Mathieson, P/M Alisdair Gillies, and P/M John K. MacAllister. More recently I have taken Piobaireachd lessons from James MacHattie.
What do you do as a day job?
I retired from the Canadian Forces in 2004 following which I had a computer servicing business for a couple of years. However, today I am fully retired.
What other hobbies/pursuits/past times do you have?
I still work with computers and dabble in web design. For total relaxation I like to fish.
Where is the most interesting place your piping travels have taken you?
There are several places that have been very interesting to visit. I think participation in the VE celebrations in Belgium and Holland in 2015 stand out as we visited and played at so many places of historic note to the Canadian and British military.
What would your most perfect piping event be?
A clean sweep of the competition circuit, as we did with the 2RCR P&D in 1990, is always satisfying.