Clan Donald Magazine No13 (1995) Online
The Sir John A. Macdonald Composing
by Bob Macdonald, Clan Donald Society of Canada
Cataraqui Cemetery, which is situated on
the west side of Kingston, Ontario, contains the grave site of Sir
John A. Macdonald, one of that founding fathers of our country and
Canada's first Prime Minister who died on June 6,1891. On June 6
each year the Kingston Historical Society holdsa commemorative
service at this cemetery where wreaths are laid by representatives
from the various levels of government and other interested
organizations. For a number of years now the Clan Donald Society of
Canada has been privileged to take part in the ceremony.
Clan Donald's involvement at Cataraqui
led to the idea of a new piobaireachd to be named in honour of Sir
John A. Macdonald, and to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of
his death. Clan Donald also felt that by sponsoring a competition
for such a tune, it would create some incentive and encouragement to
the piping fraternity to engage in the art and skill appropriate to
the development of the classical music of the Great Highland
The Piper & Drummer magazine was most
receptive to the proposal and was given a free hand to run the
competition, including the selection of judges and the allocation of
prize money. Notice of the competition was published in the Piper &
Drummer, and entries from Scotland, the United States and Canada
Each competitor submitted a manuscript
and cassette recording of their entry. The judges of the
competition, Pipe-Majors Archie Cairns and Ed Neigh, were provided
with all entries and a compilation tape of the twelve entries. They
then undertook the difficult task of choosing a winner and two
The winner of the contest was Colin
MacLellan of Maxville, Ontario. Colin received $700, and took part
in the official ceremony marking the hundredth anniversary of Sir
John A. Macdonald's passing. Colin's tune is published in this
edition of the Piper & Drummer.
The two honourable merit awards of $100
each were presented to Bruce Burt of Wyandotte, Michigan, and
Michael Grey of Willowdale, Ontario.
A fitting sequel occurred on June
6,1991, at Cataraqui Cemetery with a large crowd in attendance. The
guest speaker for the occasion was our present Prime Minister, Brian
Mulroney, who paid tribute to our first Prime Minister. Following
this, Bob Macdonald of the Clan Donald Society of Canada gave a
brief explanation of what a piobaireachd is all about, and then
introduced Colin MacLellan to play his winning tune, "Salute to Sir
John A. Macdonald - Canada's First Prime Minister."
The playing of the piobarieachd
coincided with the laying of seventeen wreaths by official guests,
each of whom was escorted by a member of the Fort Henry Guard,
resplendent in full dress uniform. Colin took up a position on the
top of the gentle slope overlooking the grave site, where a
beautiful rendering of his composition, played on an excellent pipe,
provided a fitting aura of dignity and solemnity to the occasion.
Although the audience was not of the piping fraternity, they were
clearly moved by the event and broke into spontaneous applause at
the conclusion of the piobaireachd.
Our thanks and appreciation go to all
who participated in this prestigious contest, and it is our sincere
hope that further events similar to the Sir John A. Macdonald
Composition Competition will take place in the near future.
The Tune: "Salute to Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's First Prime
Minister" is the first prize winning tune in the piobaireachd
composing contest sponsored by The Clan Donald Society of Canada and
organized by the Viper & Drummer. The tune commemorates the 100th
anniversary of the death of Sir John A. Macdonald. The piobaireachd
was performed by the composer on June 6,1991, at the burial place of
Sir John A. Macdonald in Kingston, Ontario, as the current Prime
Minister of Canada laid a wreath at the grave site.
The Composer: Colin MacLellan is one of
Canada's foremost pipers. Among bis awards are the Gold Medal at
Inverness (1982) and The Silver Chanter at Dunvegan (1990). He lives
in Maxville, Ontario, with his wife, Shelly, and their two children.
Originally published in "The Piper &
Drummer," Vol. 8. Issue No. 4 (August 1991), The publication of the
Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario, Editor, Andrew Berthoff.
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