History of pipe bands in Vernon - North Okanagan Pipes and Drums

Scottish piping and drumming has an established history in the North Okanagan with bands forming in Kamloops,Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna. In the late 1930's as a 4 or 5 year old lad, Barry Mattock, one of our founding members, marched with his dad, a bass drummer in the Kildonnan Pipe Band. That band operated until the early 1960's. Sheila Sperling, another of our founding members, was active with the MacIntosh Girls' Pipe Band. Started in 1947 by Horace Foote, former Drum Major of the Kildonnan Pipe Band, this band ran until 1980.     In the early 1980s, Sheila Sperling was with a group who were attempting to resurrect a version of the MacIntosh Girls' Pipe Band, making it a “Ladies” band. Pat Reglin was appointed as the first Pipe Major and they started work. After a short time a committee formed and decided to remove Pat as the Pipe Major and appoint Wendy Solmes to the position. Wendy’s parents, the Gables, were instrumental (along with several others including Jan Mattock, Barry’s wife) in fundraising and building the band that evolved into the Kalamalka Highlanders after several men came along and joined the group. At this point, Reg Scott was appointed as Pipe Major. Reg served in that position for 20 years, till 2004 when he stepped down and our own Pipe Major, Don MacLeod,was voted into the position. Don took a very nice little community band of 21 members and built it up to 47 musicians including a 21 member youth pipe band. The band was flourishing but the Society directors decided that the band should be going in a different direction than it had been going. Not agreeing with this new direction, and wanting to avoid confrontation, Don stepped down and left the band. When a number of others left in support, Don was asked to start a new group that was just for the love of the music and for the enjoyment of sharing the culture of our Celtic heritage, and so began the journey of The North Okanagan Pipes and Drums in Vernon.. Founded in October of 2012, the North Okanagan Pipes and Drums already has 26 members, all of whom are interested in getting together, playing the music they love, and performing for the community.     Under the direction of Pipe Major Don MacLeod, the band is based in Vernon, but also has members from Armstrong, the B.X., Coldstream and Kelowna. To honour Vernon's pipe band history, the band wears the "Ancient MacBeth" tartan, as worn by the former Kildonan Pipe Band.   At the moment, our youngest musician is 10, the oldest is 82 and there is a full mixture of ages in between. There is a bit of a family theme to the band: there are a father and son, mother and daughter, grandfather and grandsons, brothers, and a husband and wife.  Corrine Sly, a supporter and dear friend of the band, heard that funding for a new bass drum had been denied. She offered to pay for half the cost of the drum and all she asked in return was to have the drum named “Bruce” to honour her father. When she heard that the band was happy to name the drum, she was excited and paid the entire cost of the drum! When you see our drum, you’ll notice the name “Bruce” and a small fox on the front of the drum in honour of Corrine Sly (sly like a fox!) and her father Bruce.   Corrine passed away about 8 months later after a short fight with ALS.    We miss her!                 Corrine Sly at her 82nd birthday.   Current plans for band performances include: Rememberance Day, parades, community events, and serving the cities, municipalities and charities in the entire area. We are not a competition band, we just have fun doing what we love!   For a group that began just a couple of years ago, we have a great foundation and the future of the best pipe band in Vernon BC looks very bright.