The 49th Field Regiment Pipes and Drums usually need little in the way of introductions. Residents of Sault Ste. Marie and, as I’ve come to learn over the years, many other American and Canadian cities knows all too well, the droning sound of the approaching bagpipes. There is a long history behind the band so before I tell you my story, let me give you a brief history of the band.
Peter Buchan and John Nicolson founded the earliest organization of the Soo Pipe Band somewhere between 1915 and 1918. Band members swelled between 1919-1920 with the return of the soldiers after World War I and throughout the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s band members met often to rehearse. The Soo Pipe Band came to be well known, and loved throughout Sault Ste. Marie and have maintained that legacy for over 92 years. In 1941, the band was called “The 23rd Reserve Pipe Band.” In desperate need for a place to rehearse, and needing to replace aging equipment, the band left the 23rd Reserve to relocate with the 58th LAA Regiment at the Gouin Street Armoury. In 1952, almost forty years after it was founded, the band joined the 49th MAA Regiment in the new Pine Street Armoury. They have operated from this location since and have regular Tuesday night rehearsals during the fall and winter months.
My husband has been a member of the 49th Field Regiment Pipes and Drums for over nine years and is just one of the many dedicated members who faithfully attends those late night Tuesday rehearsals. I started to date my then to be husband in May 2005 and we married in May 2006. I will never forget how thrilled I was to find out that he was a member of the 49th Field Regiment Pipes and Drums. Having been a Highland Dancer since the age of four, and having also participated in Highland Games across Canada and Michigan, I was in love with the sound of the bagpipes. My husband is a drummer in the band and I’ve slowly grown to love the ‘ratta tat tat’ of his skilfully played tunes. There are evenings when my dining room table is turned into a giant drum pad and my home filled with rhythmic 6/8 and 4/4 tunes as my daughter and husband play. I’ll have to be honest and admit that at first I would find myself retreating to the furthest point in our house in an effort to escape the constant tapping. My head would throb within minutes of their practices and I would eagerly count down the minutes of their evening rehearsals. I tried several things to drown out the noise; cotton balls, radio music and even once segregating myself on the front porch. In a final desperate act, I realized that I was either going to have to leave the house or try my own hand at this instrument.
Drumming is not as easy as it would appear. Although I have never been able to fully master any of the tunes, my husband has always patiently instructed me despite having to dodge the occasional flying drum stick that, as my daughter eagerly points out every time, can really hurt. Needless to say, I have come to love the sound of my husband drumming along side the many skilful pipers that play in the band.
I have to also admit that I love it even more when my husband throws me a quick wink as the band marches past while completing one of their parades. Feeling like a privileged member of some secret organization, I wave eagerly with what I’m sure is an ear to ear grin. Women will often gush, “I just love the bagpipes!” Or even more brazen with, “There is nothing more attractive than a man in a kilt.” Although I couldn’t agree more with both statements, I find myself pointing out to these fans just how talented the drummers are. Nothing makes me more proud than to say, “My husband plays in the band, he’s a drummer.”
Life in the 49th Field Regiment Pipes and Drums: A Wife's Story
Paula Trainor for local2 sault ste. marie
July 14th, 2012 at 1:31pm