The Bigpiper


Please use the menu below to view some piping
related pictures from our trip to Scotland in 2001


Ken first started to learn the pipes in 1953 in his hometown of New Glasgow , Nova Scotia. This small town has produced a large number of pipers and is still doing so. Ken's first band was the local Cadet pipe band which at that time was associated with the high school in town. He joined the Nova Scotia Highlanders in 1958, long before he was of legal age to do so, but his size and experience overcame all obstacles.

When he later moved to Montreal, he was recruited into a band in Pincourt, another small community west of the city. He played with them until the fall of 1968 and then joined the 3rd Batt. Black Watch Pipes and Drums. This caused a few minor blips in record keeping since he forgot about the age discrepancy during his earlier stint in the militia in Nova Scotia. Once it was corrected things went smoothly for a time.

Black Watch P&D
That's Ken anchoring the front row left.

Ken then moved to Calgary and transferred to the Calgary Highlanders. This proved to be the last militia band for him. He joined the Calgary City Police and during his time in recruit training, the LOA from the militia got fouled up and he was struck off strength and when he tried to rejoin, was told he was too fat. Thin enough to be a cop but too fat for the army, strange.

During his stay in the Calgary Police Service, he and two other members of the force, approached the Chief and were given the go ahead to start up a pipe band. After finding a donor to equip the band and a year of work, it was ready for the street but Ken left the service and was again on the loose.

He then went on to the Al Azhar Shrine Pipes and Drums but soon developed arthritis in his shoulders which brought an end to his piping at that time. (1985).

In 1997, Ken's arthritis cleared up and he began to pick up the pipes again and here we are today. Playing solo now and driving the local residents nuts with his daily stint on the pipes.

In the fall of 1999, Ken was persuaded to try competition for the first time in his life. Once was enough and he was hooked. First time out, playing in the Adult grade, he earned a second place result and has been going to every contest he can make ever since.

In early 2000 he met Jack Lee at a piping school and Jack offered to help Ken with his piping. It has been a revelation to say the least and while it is a full day's trip to make it for a lesson, the hassle has been worth every minute. His playing has improved and all the bad habits that were picked up through being self taught for all those years, are slowly being erased.

For the competition seasons of 2003-4, Ken was a member of the Robert Malcolm Alumni Pipe Band. This was his first foray into the world of pipe band competition and it was a great experience. Unfortunately, the amount of travel required to get to practice and the time involved made it impossible for him to continue but he will always remember this as a highlight of his piping career..

This site was constructed by Ken MacKenzie

© 2002 Ken MacKenzie