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Dec. 29th, 2018
Higher up in these comments we talked about the talent possessed by our late Director of Music, Insp. Charlie Hendricks. He was one of the finest musicians both instrumentally and as a leader with whatever group he took out to perform. I mentioned there that he was also a gifted writer of poetry – second to none. I can still see him sitting on the front stoop of the log cabin where Robert Service lived in Dawson, Yukon when we visited that place. I think Robert Service had a tremendous impact on Charlie as he became quite prolific in his writings as the years came along. I think it is appropriate that I present here, some writings Charlie penned in late 1972 when the Force was desperately attempting to produce a Centennial show to take to every part of our great country. Fortunately for everyone, Supt. Don Saul was waiting in the wings to make the production the success it became. With the Christmas season still upon us and celebrations continue I would like to present Charlie’s “A Christmas Thought” which tell the true story of that momentous time. It would seem appropriate too that this month marks the 25 year since the Regimental Band of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was terminated.
A CHRISTMAS THOUGHT – Insp. C. Hendricks
The Band was all packed with its horns and it’s charts
Free from the Ride, with its horses and farts,
Free from the busses, the trucks and the trains,
Freed to do something that called for some brains.
Eagerly planning to do their own thing,
Bringing a show that was fit for a king.
Playing the operas, the centres, the halls,
Ready to blow, with some feeling and balls!
Rehearsals were done, the plans were all laid,
The writers had worked ’till their fingers were frayed.
They all knew that here was a thing of good will,
Not something that lived for the ring of a till.
It was not for the money or glory it brought,
But it was part of everyone’s being and thought.
Well, all looked so bright and so promising too,
That I guess they were foolish to think it was true.
For over the mountain and deep in a cave,
Something started to mumble, to rant and to rave.
“It’s not good” screamed the monster, “It’s not good at all’
These men and their noise in some damned concert hall!”.
“Get them out,” shrieked the ‘thing”, as he lurched to the phone,
Then he called out the Army, and his dirk he did hone.
His face twisted grimly, his eyeballs they shone,
As he muttered and cursed to his pet leprechaun.
“Art Centres, aye, well we’ll see to that!”
As he chawed his cigar and disgustingly spat.
“If I have my way, and you know that I do,
They’ll be up to their asses in horsheshit and goo.”
“Marching along with their instruments high,
As the cannons and horses go thundering by,
Playing the music we all love so well,
’cause the old music’s best, I just know, I can tell.”
“They’ll all climb aboard a magnificent train,
And they won’t have to think because we’ll be their brain,
We’ll dress them and feed them and wind them up too,
And once every fortnight we’ll wash off the goo.”
“My gawd they’ll have fun, what a show it will be.
And they’ll play every barn from St. John’s to B.C.”
But the monster forgot, as most mad beings do,
That the contents he had for his travelling zoo,
Were not robots or stick men or things made of straw,
But were people with souls, who could bleed when rubbed raw.
They worked with their minds and a skill gleaned from years
Of practice and learning and frustrated tears.
They were people who practiced a trade, not in goods,
But a product of love, much like God’s cool green woods.
So the monster who lived in that cave far away,
Didn’t know what he did on that terrible day.
But how could he know of intangible things,
Of turning a phrase, and the joy that it brings,
Of the beauty of flowers, or the song of a lark,
These things don’t exist in a mind that is dark.
So don’t blame the monster, but pity him more,
For he lives in a world that’s not here anymore.
Some day he’ll discover, some day he will find,
That power can never destroy a man’s mind!
So be of good thoughts, and be happily seen,
But shed a brief tear for what might have been……………
I often reflect back to our Centennial Review, created by a fascinating group of people headed by Don Saul, the team of artists from the Calgary Stampede who, through our Director of Music, Ottawa born, Bram Smith were instrumental in bringing in the Depot recruits to thrill capacity audiences everywhere we played. As Commissioner Higgitt was heard to say”We could have taken the show to the entire world”.
A HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND ALL THE BEST FOR 2019.
Garth and Eleanor Hampson
Garth, I was one of those recruits that Charlie so deftly wrote about. Memories of a wondrous April to September 1972. What a terrific show, what an adventure. Thank you for sharing it.
Hi Graham. Good to hear from you. I mean, it’s only been 40-some years since the Review. It was an adventure all right. It’s amazing how quickly the time has passed. But what really amazes me, when some of the old gang gets together, is how little time seems to have passed. Conversations
continue as if it were yesterday. There are some great stories to tell and they need to be told and written down or they will be lost and that would be tragic. People always say: “You should write a book.” Just look at Charlie’s poetry. No shortage of material there. We all have stories that should be told. Garth has been after the ex-band people to contribute to this page and maybe it’s time to start. I’ve chosen my story to tell. Stay tuned for the “The Misadventures of Kenny and Jim in Venezuela”. What’s your story?
Jan 11th, 2019 – Welcome to the New Year to all.
This date, 46 years ago the Concert band had an amazing outing which was the first engagement ushering in the Centennial year of the Force. For me, having served in G Div. it was totally appropriate – I got to show off the north to all our musicians. The presentation was orchestrated by the Commissioner of the Territories, Stuart Hodgson, quite the most amazing entrepreneur. He certainly missed his calling as a world class impresario.
He completed transformed the Elks Hall into Fort Mitchener in honor of his special guests, Gov. Gen. and Nora Mitchener. It was not just an ordinary piece of scenery. When one walked up to the second floor you passed through a curtain to be met by a gatling gun at the entrance gate of the Fort. You were surrounded by real log building fronts and greeted by the post master behind his wicket who handed out correspondence for the event which was then ‘franked’ to be sent out to friends around the world. The franking stamp existed for only the one day that Fort Mitchener existed. To the left was a log cabin for the Gov. General’s use. He was hosting Comm’r and Mrs. Len Higgitt. Around the walls were display cases of RCMP memorabilia and original paintings by Arnold Friberg, the artist every Mountie got to admire. At the end of the hall was the raised platform for the dance orchestra graced with a water trough filled with ice sculptures. Tables were set out for the banquet on china that had been designed with the 1873 crest for the occasion. Those in authority were dressed in the uniforms of the period.
The Band undertook major touring in the Centennial year of 1973 taking it to every major center of Canada, both large and even to small settlements but the engagement in Yellowknife topped everything. It was a breathtaking experience to have witnessed that one evening. Even Arnold Friberg, who was in attendance was impressed. Several little hick-ups occurred during the evening which have been captured, once again, in the writing stylings of our late Director of Music Charlie Hendricks who really new how to ‘turn a phrase’. Here is Charlie’s “THE BALLAD OF THE YELLOWKNIFE GIG”. Enjoy!
The message arrived by a courier sent
bringing greetings one warm August day,
“They desire the Band up in old Yellowknife,
to be there at there Ball for to play”.
“They’ll fly you all up in a big silver plane,
You’ll be going with Rolly and Len,
They will get you all there, we can guarantee that
But you’ll come back we just can’t say when.”
“Be out at the airport at 12:30 sharp
For the plane leaves precisely at 2,
Now how you get out there I really don’t t know
So I guess we’ll leave that up to you”.
So the men they arrived there with all of their gear
With their coats and their hats, boots and socks,
With their instruments, uniforms, music and reeds,
And 22 wolf-fur-lined jocks.
They boarded the aircraft and tied themselves in
Then they sat there and fried until three,
The the big bird took off and the fellows relaxed
With a nice peanut butter cook-ie,
With their guts in a knot and their eyeballs all glazed
They arrived at the Northern Frontier
The thermometer read 27 below
But the lads, they had nothing to fear.
For the people in charge had it all pre-arranged,
It was really a very fine show,
There were several nice men waving arms at them all,
They were telling them all where to go.
“Now you’re to go here, yes, and you’re to go there,
You can see we’ve left nothing to luck.”
Then they tore 2 big hold in that great silver plane,
With the end of a large Army truck!
The pilot, he shrieked and his eyes they rolled up
And he said with a gurgling shout,
“Sure as hell if I try pressurizing this bitch,
I will blow all that’s inside right out.”
So the bandmen all left, as the curses they flew,
On a bus that sped off in the night,
Little knowing that soon they were all going to see
A most strange and unusual sight.
As the men all prepared for the big jobs ahead,
As we know all good mu-sicians do,
There appeared at their door a big frigging black bat,
And the bugger was 7 foot 2!
With a great hook-ed nose and a shiny black cape
It stood staring, then jumped in the room,
Then it mumbled its’name and it stumbled around
Like a damn-ed black spectre of Doom.
My name it is Binks, from the Council I am,
And I run every part of this show,
So you guys just be here with your costumes and horns
And I’ll give you the word when to go!”
“I’ve got it all planned, see, with times and with dates,
And I’ve put it all in a big list,
So now here’s one for you, Gad, I really must go!”
And he fluttered off into the mist!”
So the boys all turned up at the hall the next night
To a sight they had not seen before,
Then were all told to wait, yes, all 20 plus 2,
In a room that was 6 feet by 4.
Someones’ feet were all jammed in a saxophone case,
And a mute was up somebodys’ rear,
And the coats were piled high as a polar bear’s eye.
It was something to see and to hear.
Then into this twisted up, horrible mess
Of tangled up horns, coats and men,
Came the bloody great bat in his flowing black cape,
Someone muttered “Christ, not him again!”
“Now 9:45 is the magical hour,
But you’ll wait for my signal, please do,
Then you’ll all march upstairs and start right in to play
For the G.G. and Stu and Len too.”
Well it may have looked fine on the Bats’ battle plans
But in fact, well is just wouldn’t work.
“I’d like to see Batman move all of us now,
The long beak-ed, black cladded jerk!”
As is often the case in these Great Master Plans
Drafted up by some government whizz,
He forgot to consider the size of Balls,
The number of people that is….
For the people were jammed in both upstairs and down
And were still coming in through the door,
And the Band was still trapped in its’ Off Duty Room,
So then Dracula started to roar.
“Just go out the rear door and go down the back lane
And then climb up the fire escape,
My security man, he will unlock the door.”
Then he disappeared flapping his cape.
So they picked up their horns and stepped into the night
Which was now 57 below,
And they stumbled along through the ice and the wind
Knowing not, just for sure, where to go.
Well they found the back stairs and they climbed to the door
And they beat ’till their knuckles were raw,
Then it finally was opened and there in the light
Stood a real bright young man who said “daaaah……
No, you can’t come in here through the fire escape,
I’m afraid you must go to the front,
But a baritone sax in the crotch changed his mind
And he let them all in with a grunt.
Now the first dance was for the G.G. and his wife
And a special arrangement was done,
And the chap who produced this magnificent thing
Was out front, and he shone like the sun.
He smiled as he waited to hear his fine work
And he stood with his camera in hand,
To capture the joy that was sure to be seen
When ’twas played by this marvellous Band.
So the boys started out with a bang, and the thought
That “Where there is a will, there’s a way”,
But the problem arose that 6 men were in ‘F’,
And the rest of the Band were in ‘A’.
“Do we take the repeat?”, “Hey, what key are we in?”,
“We’re in ‘F'”, “No you ass, we’re in ‘A'”,
So the brass all decided to play William Tell
And the bass player screamed out “Wop May”.
Now the chap who had written this great overture
Gave a scream as he fell to the floor,
And he jammed 2 zoom lenses into his ear holes
And he pleased to God for no more.
Well the lad finally made it, I just can’t say how,
And the G.G. and all said “how nice”,
While they carried outside the arranger, poor chap,
And laid him down covered with ice.
Then the Ball finally ended, it really went well,
For you see, just the first set was bad.
The most ‘oft heard remark when the dance was all done
Was “the best ruddy Ball that we’ve had!”
Then the tired musicians went back to their rooms
For a smoke and a nice drink of gin,
But when they got home they discovered that there
Was just a space where their bottles had been.
“Tabernac” screamed the drummer, “doze guy have rob us,
And dey took all my dollar to boot”.
So they all checked their goodies and soon realized
Someone had slipped away with the loot.
So the boys went to bed with their throats raw and dry
And they dreamed of a native attack,
But the chances were much like a snowball in hell
That they’d soon get their rum and gin back.
So the days swiftly passed ‘amongst the bats and the thieves
It was time to go back to the ‘civilized world’
And rehearse for the Art Center Halls.
So they loaded their gear and flew off to the south
And then over the prairies did fly
To change planes in Toronto, or so they all thought,
‘Till the steward came on with “hey guy,
We’re so sorry to tell you they’ve had rain today
Up in Ottawa and Montreal,
And its iced up the runways, you won’t fly tonight,
So have fun now, please do, one and all.”
Well now, that was enough to make grown men cry,
Or a masochist shriek with delight,
Just to think they they’d have to sit jammed in a bus
For some 300 miles through the night.
With their minds turned to jelly and asses to stone,
They pulled into the city at dawn,
And any resemblance to humanoid form
Had by this time just withered and gone.
Then they climbed into taxis and buses and such,
To their homes now they’d all make their way,
Then through the grey fog of a mind in a trance,
They could hear someone screaming……
EXPERTLY PENNED BY INSPECTOR CHARLIE HENDRICKS.
Extinct is forever
– borrowed from the Bison t-shirt print
Ever since the RCMP Band website went up, Garth Hampson has been encouraging people to contribute stories or photos. He’s right; once we’re gone, so are our stories along with a valuable part of our history. So I am taking up Garth’s challenge.
I was very fortunate during my career in the RCMP Band, in that I saw parts of Canada that the average Canadian seldom sees. I also had the opportunity to meet people from every corner of this great country. When the band bus would pull into town everyone knew who we were — the Mounties are here!
In one town in Saskatchewan, just as we arrived, the main street was being paved for the first time. One quick-witted member of the band stood up and said: “Look! They’ve rolled out the black carpet for us.”
Typically, at each stop, we would play two — or sometimes three— concerts at the local high school or arena followed by a public concert in the evening.
The school concerts featured a programme that was quite different from the one for the evening. I always enjoyed seeing facial expressions of the students change as the band would kick off with a current tune from the hit parade when they were expecting “serious” music. If the school had a music programme, Band members would often hold master classes where they could provide help and encouragement to budding musicians.
After the evening concert, we more than occasionally would go to a local watering hole to rinse off the dust. We would often meet people there who had been at the concert and wanted to talk about how much they had enjoyed it.
Others wanted to talk about their experience with the RCMP. Sometimes positive, sometimes not so positive. It was a great opportunity to connect one on one with someone and help them understand a particular issue or perhaps correct some misconceptions about the RCMP. This is where some of the best public relations for the Force took place.
Once the Band was back home in Ottawa, it was always gratifying to receive positive feedback from the tour — especially when it came from the RCMP detachments we had visited and they told us about lasting effect the Band’s visit had made on a particular community.
As Garth says, there are lots of stories out there and they need to be preserved. If you don’t want to rehash the past, how about letting us know what you’ve been doing since the Band’s demise?
Either way, let’s get those stories saved before they are lost — forever.
RCMP Musical Ride Reunion 2020
Réunion 2020 du Carrousel de la GRC
Survey / Sondage
Attention all former / current Musical Riders or N Division Staff, retired or serving
A volunteer committee has been formed to spearhead a Musical Ride Reunion, currently proposed for the last week of June 2020 in Ottawa.
In order to gauge the level of interest and predicted attendance by current and former RCMP Musical Ride members, N Division staff, families and friends, a very short survey has been created and and is posted here in the hopes that Riders and “N” Division Staff will complete it
Please click on this link to participate in the survey:
Anyone wishing more information can contact the committee at email@example.com or on the private Facebook page “RCMP Musical Ride Reunion 2020”
Chris Mackie Windover
RCMP Musical Ride Reunion 2020
À l’attention de tous les anciens / actuels cavaliers musicaux ou membres du personnel de la Division N, retraités ou en service.
Un comité de bénévoles a été formé pour diriger une réunion du Carrousel, actuellement proposée pour la dernière semaine de juin 2020 à Ottawa.
Afin d’évaluer le niveau d’intérêt et la participation prévue des membres actuels et anciens du Carrousel de la GRC, du personnel de la Division N, des familles et des amis, un très court sondage a été créé et est affiché ici dans l’espoir que les cavaliers et le personnel de la Division N le rempliront.
Veuillez cliquer sur ce lien pour participer au sondage:
Pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec le comité à firstname.lastname@example.org ou sur la page Facebook privée “RCMP Musical Ride Reunion 2020”.
Chris Mackie Windover
de la reunion 2020 du Carrousel de la GRC
Copyright © 2019
RCMP Veterans’ Association
Association des vêtêrans de la GRC
All rights reserved / Tous droits réservé
Our email address is:
Band members are also included in this Reunion, should anyone be interested. After all it is the ‘Musical’ Ride and the Band was a very important part of it. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Chris Mackie Windover
Thank you Peter for helping me post this.
Raining here in Ottawa today, rather appropriate for this day – GOOD FRIDAY. April 19th 2019.
I have spent the morning going over various internet sites covering aspects of the great RCMP Concert Band – by the way, those are not my words but those of people I continually meet who remember those days. I listened to Bram Smith’s Golden Crest Album entitled “BRAM SMITH AND HIS TRUMPET”. What an extraordinary talent he was and he was ours. The Post horn never ever sounded so exciting as when Bram played it. I got to thinking of the role Bram played in bringing Canadian composers into our midst to show the talent this Country had to offer as we travelled the world – people like Gord Nicholson out in Edmonton and of course, Howard Cable. We had the most unique library of martial music, concert material, ensemble material dance orchestra charts and the use of private library material to do the Seniors homes and hospitals. When the Decision was made to cancel the Band the library remained untouched until a summer student was sent out to package it up for removal to Canadian Archives. Guess what – the student was obviously unaware of all the parts necessary to complete arrangements so if there were four clarinet parts, three were disposed of as garbage. That, amongst other things is the reason no other Band uses our material to this day.
Getting back to Bram’s trumpet recording – I had been in touch with Clyde Gilmour of CBC fame who liked to program our material. Bram had just passed away and I became aware of a tape of his playing that had come off a record album. I made arrangements for someone in Toronto to have it made into a CD and sent it to Clyde Gilmour. It was played on his program, heard across Canada the following Christmas day and heard by thousands.
Happy Easter everyone!
Great story Garth. I am now searching for some of those recordings online. Happy Easter to you as well.
(Still out here in wonderful DDiv)
Garth Hampson – 16 Aug. 2019
I recently received a new publication from a friend in Victoria written by retired Supt. T.M. ‘Scotty’ Gardiner which has given us many pleasurable hours of reading. These are stories of his time in the Force which really covers the full spectrum from recruit days, his many postings at home and abroad and into his years of retirement on the west coast. The era of which he writes was a bit before my service began so I knew so many of the people mentioned in the book which made the stories come to life for me. Very little was written over the years of the RCMP Regimental Band so when I got to chapter 79 and perused the item under the heading – “OFFICERS’ MESS SECRETARY – THE ADDITIONAL WORK” i was thrilled to see a reference to our late Director of Music, Supt. William Bramwell Smith. I quote –
“During my tenure, the Force engaged a new Band Master, Bramwell Smith. Trained in one of Canada’s Salvation Army Band, “Bram” went on to
achieve great acclaim in his musical field where the trumpet was his instrument. This had led him to the USA where he was Band Master for the
U.S. Marines. Returning to Canada, he was an ideal master of the Force’s Band. To introduce Bram to the Force we thought a special mess function
would be appropriate. I met with Bram. I gave him a 20 minute ultimatum on the program he would play. This brought a response on a level of an
earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale. Bram gave me a lecture on things like ‘A flat majors,’ ‘B minors,’ ‘Chopin’s Symphony in whatever”
‘Mozart’s this and that,’ and Haydn’s Concerto’ while turning pages of music with ten times more notes on them than the lively Scottish reels I played
on the accordion in my youth. I was forced to retreat.”
After much discussion about acoustic properties in the gymnasium where the event was to be held it was agreed that the previously allotted time
of 20 minutes would be increased to 40 minutes for a proper concert.
“All was readied and the day of the function arrived. With almost the full complement of Officers present, all ladies gowned, Officers in ‘Mess Kit’
(scarlet) and invited guests in formal dress, the gymnasium beautifully decorated, it was a spectacular scene. The elderly, guest speaker, Mr. Steele
(son of the Knighted Sir Sam Steele from early Force history) spoke with the enthusiasm and vibrancy of one half his age. His talk was so warmly
appreciated. It was then time to introduce Bramwell Smith. The MC explaining that Bram would give a short musical presentation as an
accomplished trumpeter. No sooner had he reseated himself when Bram’s trumpet gave forth – not only did it give forth but within seconds the
entire gymnasium was reverberating from wall to wall, ceiling to floor and every nook and cranny in between with arpeggios like no one had ever
heard before. Music befitting the finest symphony hall filled that space. As soon as Bram finished one composition the entire assembly howled for
more, and more, and more. Bram played for over an hour – masterful was the only word to describe that performance. The only complaint lodged
by those present was why had the musical programme been kept so short!
With that evening’s solo performance, Bramwell Smith ‘won his spurs’ in the Royal Canadian Mounted police. He went on to prove himself a
tremendous band leader. In addition he had the band perform free public, summertime concerts in downtown Ottawa. These were very well
received. Bram remained with the Force for about five years but I will never, ever forget my tenure as Officer’s Mess Secretary and in particular
that highlight introduction which I would call Bramwell Smith’s ‘trumpet solo extravaganza.’
NOTE; UPON HIS DEATH, BRAM’S ASHES WERE INTERRED IN ARLINGTON CEMETERY, WASHINGTON, DC.”
I, one of many Bram Smith enthusiasts, am grateful to read of this account of Bram’s baptism into Force life. We won’t soon forget his talent. Thanks to “Scotty” Gardiner for including Bram in his wonderful book entitled “IN THE MIND OF A MOUNTIE”
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