The RCMP Pipes, Drums and Dancers of the National Capital Region can trace their roots to an RCMP 125th Anniversary initiative that resulted in, then, Commissioner Philip Murray authorizing a unique tartan for the Force, along with a kilted uniform combining the new tartan with the RCMP scarlet tunic, in April 1998. Her Royal Highness (HRH) the Princess Anne formally presented the Certificate of Registration of the RCMP Tartan to Deputy Commissioner Terry Ryan in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in June, 1998.
The following month a composite band of RCMP pipers and drummers, drawn from across Canada, proudly wore the tartan and kilted uniform for the first time in Halifax at the Nova Scotia International Tattoo.
Hard on the heels of this success, earnest planning in 1999 gave way to the formation of the “A” Division Pipes & Drums in Ottawa (National Capital Region) in 2000, adding to bands already in existence in Edmonton and Moncton. The National Program of Community Bands of Pipes and Drums is now comprised of seven bands Force-wide, having added Vancouver, Regina, Montreal, and Halifax.
The RCMP Pipes & Drums of “A” Division owe their early success and present good fortune to the Ottawa Police Services (OPS) Pipe Band. Pipe Major Supt. Partick Hayes, M.O.M (OPS) served as the band’s first pipe major and was instrumental in raising the band, enlisting several of his OPS pipers and drummers to wear the scarlet tunic during the band’s formative years.
The band performed its first regimental garrison duty in September, 2000, at the Canadian Police College in support of the Change of Command Parade from Commissioner Philip Murray to Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli. In October, 2002, at the same venue, the band played for HM Queen Elizabeth II as part of her Silver Jubilee celebrations and on the occasion of her presentation of Police Service Horse (PSH) ‘Jubilee’ to the RCMP Musical Ride. This parade is of historical note. The band marched on led by Drum Major Graham Muir, Pipe Major Pat Hayes and Pipe Sergeant Gilbert Young. At the completion of the ceremony, the band played off with Pipe Major Graeme Ogilvie and Pipe Sergeant Donald Corbett taking up their new appointments. Pipe Sergeant Young was destined to re-join the band and did so in 2006. This team continues to lead well, having welcomed Drum Major Mark Watson and Drum Sergeant Bruce Hewat.
The band first performed with its dancers in November, 2002, marking the retirement of the Commanding Officer of “A” Division, Assistant Commissioner Dawson Hovey. An early partnership with the Loch Murray Dance School has given way to a dedicated and delightful group of RCMP dancers under the direction of Kelsey Campbell.
The band and dancers have earned a stellar reputation through its parades and performances both at home and abroad. For several years running the band and dancers have donated over 10,000 volunteer hours per annum to the community in pursuit of their music and mandate.
On March 8th 2016, Drum Rod Major MacLeod presented the Forces ‘original’ regimental mace, made by Potters Ltd, London England, in 1932 to the Commanding Officer of National Division. The Mace was retired from active duty due to it's historical value and it will now be kept in a safe location in the Office of the Commanding Officer of National Division. Our band has been proud to carry this mace on regimental and state occasions since its formation. The mace’s top, or the “bell”, is made of gold-plated solid hallmarked silver.
Mr. Kenneth W. Thornton graciously donated the new mace that was presented by our Commanding Officer to the band.
Mr. Thornton joined the band as a journeyman piper in his 83rd year, shortly after the band formed. He has been a much admired member of the band family for just shy of 15 years.
An interesting fact about the mace is the fact that a scroll, listing the names and regimental numbers of each member of the Force killed in the line of duty, is carried within the bell of the mace. This honour scroll is blessed by the Chaplain of Depot Division, Regina, and is carried on parade by each of the seven RCMP Pipe Bands as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by our members in service to Canada and its communities.
The bell of the mace carries the badge of the RCMP and its ‘campaign honours’, remembering the military actions that the Force has participated in: Northwest Canada, 1885; South Africa, 1900-1902; France and Flanders, 1918; and Siberia, 1919. The RCMP also has a campaign honour for the Second World War, Northwest Europe, 1939-45 which is not included on the original mace because it was manufactured before WWII. This will be a project for the Drum Major, along with the prospects of a campaign honour for Afghanistan.
On January 1st, 2017 Pipe Major Graeme Ogilvie decided to step aside after over fifteen years of service to our band and the RCMP.
The Band will now be led by Pipe Major Douglas MacLeod, RCMP Pipes, Drums and Dancers National Division. Pipe Major MacLeod has an extraordinary background, as a piper, a pipe major and a senior military officer. The band will continue to be in exceptional hands. Pipe Major Ogilvie will still play with the band and we thank him for his steadfast leadership.