No parade is truly complete without the music of a military band.
Since the 1970s, the Queen’s York Rangers had a volunteer fife and drum band who did tremendous service to the Regiment. After nearly forty years however, the band’s numbers had dwindled and they were no longer able to reliably provide martial music for Regimental events.
With the prospect of no music to accompany our parades, the Regiment sought a new band to replace the old, and in line with the traditions of the Queen’s Rangers Highland Company (1775-1783), it was decided to find a pipe band.
Enter the Streetsville Pipes and Drums
The Streetsville Pipes and Drums were formed in 1986 by a group of students from a night school piping course at Sheridan College. The initial concept was to create a community-based parade band, purely for the love of the music. Needing somewhere to practice, one of the students who was also a Reservist approached Streetsville Branch 139 of the Royal Canadian Legion. It was quickly agreed upon that the band could have practice space in exchange for piping at Branch events. This arrangement continues to this day.
The band’s first public appearance was at the Legion’s New Year’s Day Levee in 1987. There were only five pipers, and only one in anything that would pass as a uniform, but this was only the beginning. Fundraising to support the band began, and soon not only did they have uniforms, but they had enough funds for a drum section as well.
Joining the Rangers
In 2009, an arrangement was made with the Streetsville Pipes and Drums that they would adopt a second persona, as the Regimental Band of The Queen’s York Rangers. Over time both the Band itself and the Regimental Council have acquired an appropriate highland uniform for the band. Although not initially used to the various quirks of military parades, they quickly learned the ropes and have become a military band second to none.
Stepping into the role of the regimental band the pipes and drums made use of most of their existing Streetsville uniform. From the waist down, they wore a Royal Stewart kilt, horse hair sporran, diced half hose, white spats, and black footwear. They were issued with Queen's York Rangers blues tunics, which they adapted for use by pinning back the front corners to allow the sporran to show, and fitting oversized buttons. For headwear they wore an appropriate black glengarry fitted with a Black Watch tartan patch and a Regimental badge.
The blues tunics were soon to be professionally tailored to have the highland cutaway for the sporran for a more polished presentation. The drums were emblazoned with the regimental battle honours and military drag ropes added to the snare drums to complete their look. The Drum Major now wears a baldric with Regimental cyphers, images and the battle honours across his chest. The pipers have black watch tartan drone ribbons to dress their pipes.
In 2019 the band has taken on a project to have a complete set of new kilts made in the ancient sett of the government tartan, Black watch. This was a special run at an overseas mill of this type of tartan that will harken back to the days in the 18th century as worn by the Highland Coy. of the Queen's Rangers during the American Revolution. The band wears a silver, upturned, crescent moon as a kilt pin, another old Ranger symbol.
The bands summer dress is a short sleeved green shirt with either green hose or spats and half hose.
A World Class Band
Performing either as the Streetsville Pipes and Drums, or as the Regimental Band of the Queen’s York Rangers, the band has an incredibly impressive list of achievements to their name. They have played for HM the Queen and Princess Margaret at Balmoral Castle, on Juno Beach, at Dieppe and at Vimy, as well as in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, France, Germany, Belgium and Bermuda. They have won prizes in every category at the Warrior’s Day Parade in Toronto, and have taken 1st place in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018.
Not only do they focus on their music, the Band have also built an impressive reputation as a charitable organization. For over 20 years they have raised funds for deserving charities. To date the band has donated over $94,000.00 to various hospitals and care facilities.
“The music of the Regimental Band has taken our functions to a new level,” noted Commanding Officer James Stocker. “From enhancing our functions through pipers, providing music on parade, to proudly leading the Regiment on Remembrance Day, they have quite simply elevated us. We’re incredibly happy with this partnership, and very much look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.”
And so, the next time that you hear our band playing a part of their repertoire – be it Braganza, the Maple Leaf Forever, or the Royal Salute – recognize that not only are they superlative musicians, but also philanthropists, and highly valued members of the Regimental Family as well.