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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”
A happy “End of the Year” to you all. We hope 2020 will be a year of good health.
I am attempting to clear out files and correspondence collected over the years. You will have seen in previous entries the prose and poetry of our one-time Director of Music for the Concert Band, Insp. Charlie Hendricks. I commented at that time about the talent Charlie possessed in putting Band adventures’ in his inimitable stylings for posterity. Well Charlie – this is the last one I have to offer to the readers and we once again thank you for your gift.
The scenario for this Ballad takes place on the tarmac in front of the old N Div. hangar at the east end of the N Div. property. We had just returned from a long tour of one of our western provinces when officials decided that they needed something to do that day and decided it was time to do an inspection of kit. The entire Band, in Review Order gathered on the tarmac to await the inspection while in the garden on the other side of the fence was our Sgt. Major who was tending his potatoe patch. It was a rip roaring hot humid Ottawa summer day as we were brought to attention to await the arrival of the inspection party. We waited and we waited and then were put at ease by our Drum Major Gord Price. Shortly thereafter we watched the officials sauntering towards us from the Administration Bldg. We were brought to attention once more and made ready to be checked over. But why should I continue on when Charlie captured the whole thing in his own unique style. Here goes—
THE BALLAD OF RHAMA KHAN
Now listen my friends, while I narrate to you
The tale of that fateful day,
When forty good men stood in line, once again,
And all sanity flittered away.
\The men they had come, all so neat and in lines
And were standing there under that sun
Just waiting to hear all those words of good cheer
Like “My, what a shiny Sam Brun!!”.
When there on the hill, dressed in Black (with brown boots)
Stood the Man they were all waiting for,
And there by His side looking all glassy-eyed
Was a four strip-ed di-ana-saur.
To the front He approached with an air of command
And He said to the tall Major (Drum),
“We are here my good lad and I know you are glad!”
And Smith muttered “go kiss my bum!”
“Now the plan is quite bold, and it’s daring”, said He,
“Conceived in the minds of great men”.
“I’ll bet” muttered Bill with a glance up the hill,
“T’was conceived by THAT half – witted hen”.
The Rhode Island Red he was talking about
Was up in his gardening patch
Pretending to see or to feed, maybe weed,
But hoping some men he would catch.
While down on the square at the foot of the hill,
The plan, which was now to unfold,
Proved to be, as was thought, a most dastardly plot.
Very sneaky and not very bold.
For the men were all called to the FS and S,
There to see what the fairy had brong.
But when they got there they were filled with despair
For the boxes were filled up all wrong.
The Sam Browns were yellow, the boots they were black
And the spurs they were there not at all,
And to top it all off, make them gasp, choke and cough,
they charged them five bucks for the call.
“Polish them not” cried the keeper of stores,
“Leave them virgin and untouched by man.
And one afternoon, ‘neath the hot sun, and soon,
You’ll be seen by the great Rhama Khan”.
So gathering up all their new found delights
And racing for home filled with glee
The air felt so thin and their heads they did spin
And they sighed, “Can this all be for me?”.
All safely away put in lockers and drawers
Their goodies the men they did stash,
Awaiting the day, which was not far away,
When they knew they would be such a smash.
And then it did come that most fateful of days
When the men were all summoned to go,
With assurances strong that it wouldn’t take long,
To the square that was there down below.
So here the men were on that hot afternoon
Right up to their hat bands in crap.
While that dinasaur hick with his great long brown stick
Jerked and pulled on each bloody damned strap.
“It’s too tight, it”s too loose, – the colors all wrong”,
He screamed and he thrashed in despair.
“I don’t give two hoots ’bout the size of your boots,
Blakeney, shave off the ruddy long hair!!”
As the men’s shattered dreams of a job nicely done
Gently floated away on the tide,
The Rhama Khan roared and the dinasaur soared
Up nine feet and two feet to one side.
“What is it Great One”, the four stiper asked,
“What is it?”; Just take note of that!!”
“As anyone knows, boots aren’t done up with bows”….
And just then Harvey barfed in his hat.
The singer collapsed, in the front rank to boot,
And Hudson had lost his left spur:
Guidone fell out, (he complained of the goute)
And Bramwell’s eye-balls went to blur.
But still the men stood ‘neath the hot burning ;sun
While the visions of massacre ran
Through every head there, had it long or no hair,
As only those loved visions can.
The nightmare went on with the men growing numb
And their minds turning slowly to stone,
When up spoke the Man, the Great Rhama Khan,
“At ease now men, feel right at home”.
“No I just have to say, before we all go
That the turnout is not up to scratch,
I don’t see a shine in the whole god-damn line.”
“give em hell” screamed a voice from the patch.
And then he was gone, this Great Man all in black,
As swiftly as he did appear.
And the men stumbled off, to the Leaf where they quaffed
Forty ale and twelve dozen cold beer!!
Author Unknown (believed lost in QM stores in 1903)
Thanksagain Chas. Lots of great memories that continue through these years.
GARTH HAMPSON – 27 DEC. 2019
Jan 14th- 2020 Garth Hampson
I have been reading further down on this site and recall an incident back in 1967, Canada’s Centennial year, when Canada’s journalist, Barbara Frum wrote a story concerning the recording of music by the RCMP Band. I quote from her item
“U.S. Mute on the RCMP Trumpets – Nothing could be more gloriously Canadian than the Band of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police blaring forth O Canada and the Maple Leaf Forever. It’s a sound any patriot would be proud to have in his record collection. Unfortunately no such record exists – as Force members are not allowed to belong to any union a decree from the New York headquarters of the American Federation of Musicians of the USA and Canada makes it unlikely that the record ever will exist. The idea originated from a Toronto record producer who was scouting around for his company and discovered the only pure band rendition of Canada’s paranational anthems was made by Britain’s Grenadier Guards. The Mounties are the biggest tourist attraction in Canada and their nationalistic music should be heard. The Union steadfastly resisted all pressure to make the recording and the RCMP seems destined to be heard on parade grounds only.”
I recall at the time there was much press and much disappointment that our unit was unable to make the recording.
Another little bump in the Band history that should be noted.
Hello Garth. Just came across this blog, what a fountain of memories you are. Loved listening to the RCMP Band(s) perform. Hope to see you at the reunion in June. Dorothy Hill (former “N” Division Admin). PS: I have 2 RCMP Band albums.
JANUARY 15TH, 2020
This past week two other former Band members met with me to discuss the need for a repository for historical band items being brought to our attention, our illustrious history buff Harol Pretty and Randy Demmon met with me to chat about things. New contacts in Regina and here in Ottawa are on the agenda.
This also promoted me to go through more of my “stuff” today. I came across an item from the Ottawa Citizen from many years ago from the Obituary page. Under the “In Memoriam” column was the following Remembrance –
FRASER – In loving memory of a dear little son and brother, Kirk Lesley, who was hit by a car and killed on June 23, 1973 in Toronto, Ontario and eternal light burns at the cemetery in Crosby where he is laid to rest.
LIGHT IS LIFE. This light is a constant reminder to all that he lives within our hearts and in God’s eternal care. It is also a reminder to motorists to drive carefully – “as children are not careless, they are carefree.”
Fondly remembered by his mom and dad, Virgina (Baker) and Les Fraser, his sister Victoria and his brother Tully.
The RCMP Band would perform a series of daily concerts at Ontario Place on the Toronto waterfront over many summers. Our bus would take the road through Smiths Falls and Portland before joining up with the 401 to Toronto. We always returned home after the week long run travelling through those small communities in the the early hours of the morning. Shortly after passing through Elgin, we knew that we would soon be passing by Crosby Corner and it was there, in the dead darkness of the night that we witnessed the ever-burning light of Kirk Fraser. The light continues to this day, almost fifty years later – a little light that brings hope to weary travellers.
I’m doing a bit of research on the RCMP Band. Hope someone here can help.
The RCMP Show Band was a smaller 12 piece ensemble made up of members or the larger full band.
Was this the same ensemble as the Bison Band? If not, how did they differ?
Was the RCMP Concert Band also a smaller ensemble made up of members of the larger full band? I saw somewhere where it had 23 members if memory serves me correctly.
Thanks in advance for any replies.
The 12-piece band was formed in the late 70s with a view to operating in smaller communities that would have difficulty finding a venue and/or accommodation for the full band. Charlie Hendricks ran the group. You can see a photo of the original members in the photo section of the website. It was a great success. We travelled from town to town in 3 or 4 cars with a small van for the gear, often doing 3 shows a day in 3 different towns, as well as dances and school coaching. We travelled all over the Arctic by twin otter aircraft, and had many interesting adventures including mass frostbite in Cambridge Bay in temperatures of -50 with winds to match, as well as a skinny-dipping session in Slave Lake which was captured on video by John Cheesman. Does it still exist, I wonder? Apart from many minor highways and byways we probably covered every inch of the Trans-Canada Highway. I believe we saw the very best of the RCMP in some of the small detachments we visited, and received great hospitality and some memorable meals of freshly-caught fish and game. After a few years of operation the 12-piece band converted to a smaller group, Bison. I’ll leave it to others to carry on that story.
Just came across this. The Showband, also known as the 12 piece was led by Charlie Hendricks, the RCMP Band’s assistant conductor when Ken Moore was the Director of Music. The Band was formed around 1978 to perform in communities too small to accommodate the larger Concert Band. The Band as a whole was intended to play together from time to time, but the two Band concept proved to be very helpful in terms of helping the organization meet many more requests to perform than it had previously been able to do. As a result both the Concert Band and the smaller Showband ended up working quite independently.
The problem with taking 12 musicians out of the concert band, was that it affected the larger group’s ability to perform. The solution was to replace the Showband with a smaller group. That change permitted the “two Band concept” to continue, allowing the RCMP Band Band as a whole to perform more often while strengthening the Concert Band’s ability to perform. The Showband ceased operating at the end of 1980 and Charlie Hendricks became the Asst. Director of the Concert Band. The Showband was replaced in 1981 by the “Bison Band” and continue until 1992.
The Bison Band’s first public performances took place in Rio de Janiero, Brazil in the spring of 1981. The Bison name was chosen by groups leader, Randy Demmon, due to it’s symbolic presence on RCMP Badges and it’s historical significance. It was also bilingual. As an aside, you’re likely aware that there are no “Buffalo” in North America, and that the so called American Buffalo is actually a Bison.
The first Bison Band was a 6 piece group. The players were Don Johnston (drums), Jamie Gatti (bass) Gino Scaffidi (guitar), Don Bishop (trumpet), Jeff Goodspeed (saxes and flute) and Randy Demmon (keyboards). Several of the musicians sang and provided original arrangements to fit the Bands needs. The group was required to perform in a wide range of situations including public and school concerts, official ceremonies in Canada and abroad and regimental balls and community dances. The band was small in number, but the quality of the musicianship in the group made it possible to handle a variety of roles with aplomb and great success. Due to it’s size, the group was able to travel to many isolated communities in Canada’s north and also had an opportunity to travel internationally through the auspices of the Dept. of External Affairs.
The group took a break in the mid 1980s then reformed with slightly different personnel. The members in the second group, an octet, were Mario Gilbert (saxes, flute and harmonica), Sid Arnold (trumpet and Fleugel Horn), Angus Armstrong (trombone), Pierre Shields (guitar), Michelle Desmarchais (bass), Doug Johnston (drums). Randy Demmon (keyboards). A key change in the makeup of the second Bison Band was the addition of an amazing vocalist and performer, Kerry-Anne Kutz. As in the first Bison Group, several members of the group sang and continued to provide arrangements, but Kerry-Anne offered another dynamic in terms of the groups performance level. While the music performed by the first group included Canadian material, concerts performed by the second Bison Band were exclusively Canadian in content. It was a great format and was extremely well received at home and abroad. Even with the addition of two players the Bison Band continued to perform throughout the north, in smaller more isolated communities and overseas.
For the last couple of years prior to the RCMP Band being cut, Randy Demmon changed places with Jim Brough who had been the piano player and Rhythm Section Leader in the Concert Band.
There is of course, much more to the story in terms of significant tours (eg. India and Tasmania), travel and unique experiences within Canada and many years of remarkable interaction with the public throughout Canada, however, this should help give you a clearer picture of the Concert Band, 12 piece Band and Bison Band operation.
Hi Randy Nicely done, I’ll see if this can be added to the website as a separate page. Stay safe… Peter
If you’re going to do that, would you give me a chance to edit it. I left out the letter D in the word “continued” and as an afterthought, I wished I’d mentioned something about Val’s Dance Band, Kid’s and Us etc. in order to acknowledge the role played by smaller groups. It would make the article a little longer but more balanced.
Let me know if that’s possible before it’s sent out and I’ll make the changes.
No problem Randy. Perhaps send it to me on my e-mail, it will be easier to put it up on the website. Have a great Christmas and a wonderful new year.
Dec. 22nd 2020
Sidney Garth Hampson – yes, I’m still around.
Just want everyone to know that I have recently received the entire negative collection taken by our good friend and my former neighbor here in Blackburn Hamlet (Ottawa), Peter Bond who now resides out Vancouver way. It was Peter who recorded many of our concerts here in Ottawa and area engagements and the the four trips we made to Vancouver for Expo in 1986. If it hadn’t been for his interest and enthusiasm the photos we have left for posterity would never have been taken.
The photo album has been passed on to the photo historian at N Div. and I can only hope that it finds its way to where histories of the Force will be written – someday. Another treasure just received was from Joan Pennell, widow of Blenis Pennell our very gifted reed player and extraordinary composer/arranger. Before Blenis left the Band he had all the recording s made of the Band put in a folio. I have heard many of them and memories flooded back. I excised my vocals and had them put on a separate CD for the family to have for when I am gone. I have just recorded a virtual New Year’s gala for ArsNova here in Ottawa and I think that will be the end of the performance side of things. There is still lots to do in writing for various publications about my adventures, particularly my time mushing dogs in the north and some of the exiting times I experienced with the Band in various parts of the world so my time will be be spent very productively.
In reading through the “Comments” section of this site there has been no mention made of the time and efforts our musicians along with invited guests like June Crawford gave to our senior citizens. This has been a special calling to me, the importance of giving back to those people who languish in Homes where they can no longer fend for themselves was a very important part of my time in the Band. This has continued to this day as we experience the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic where so many of our seniors have died. I have experienced complete satisfaction from performing songs so familiar to the old folks and watching the reaction they genuinely expressed. I suppose I learned that from my father who used to sing all the wartime songs from WW1 from his years in the trenches. This was particularly noticeable whenever we visited Perley Veterans Home and they all joined in with those songs sung so many years ago when they were young. I usually had a small ensemble to accompany me at these programs but often it was with just a pianist. So, when the words are put on paper for The RCMP Band, one must not forget that, along with all the groups emanating from the full Band there was a little ensemble that brought great pleasure to our seniors.
I have sung the anthem at Rideau Hall for the past eleven Governor Generals and witnessed the important role each of them made to their tenure. Some were well suited for that job but I have happy memories of each. I was even introduced to Queen Elizabeth in the garden at Rideau Hall where we talked about the north, an area she was totally conversant with.
As we come to this very strange Christmas in our lives we think of all those who are lonely, isolated and scared. There will be a better time I just know. I continue to volunteer for the RCMP Vets and we have just completed our annual Christmas parcel delivery. I had the good fortune to deliver to widows of members of the Band so we get to talk about old times. I ask you to remember these people as well.
So, my friends, we send our Christmas greetings with the hope that 2021 will see the end to our pandemic woes and we can get back to a better life.
HAPPY NEW YEAR.
A wonderful site. My father played oboe for the RCMP Concert Band in the 70s. He always spoke highly of you all and this organization. I was proud son of my father’s musical talents! Michael Senger https://www.springfieldfuneralhome.com/obituaries/senger-john-h/
April 16th, 2021
It is so rewarding from time to time to have an email, phone call, or public contact from people who appreciated the music of the RCMP when our great Band was in existence. Hard to believe it has been gone now for almost 30 years. As a result of a notice in a Regina newspaper for this month about Eleanor’s and my 60th wedding anniversary I received a call from David Halstead, whose wife Peggy is a prominent writer. They have since forwarded something she penned about the Band’s performance way back when……
THE MOOSE JAW BAND FESTIVAL
The Moose Jaw Band Festival is over and all the bands have gone home. The festival ended with a musical treat, the Saturday evening performance of Dynamic Sound by the RCMP Band. As on previous occasions this orchestra had visited Moose Jaw, they gave an exciting and memorable performance. But even more memorable, perhaps was the sight of hundreds of people applauding and asking for more. After the performance we noticed numerous young people asking for autographs from men who on other occasions, in other situations, they might have referred to as “fuzz”, “pigs” and other unsavoury epithets.
Reflecting on the effect this band had on the audience, I came to the conclusions that perhaps the RCMP are overlooking an important tool in crime fighting – that of music! As someone once said “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast” Perhaps then this theory could be put into practice. Imagine the pleasant surprise one would get when, having been waved over by an RCMP officer for driving a few miles over the speed limit, one was treated to an instrumental performance of “Slow own, you move too fast”, rather than a lecture delivered in stentorian tones.
And those high-speed chases we read about in the newspapers, instead of being made ominous by wailing sirens, could be accompanied by a stirring rendition of the “Post Horn Gallop”.
Crime suspects who were known previously to the police might be entertained by the song, “It seems we’ve stood and talked like this before”, while their nefarious activities were being investigated. I imagine desperados holed up in their hide out could probably be persuaded to surrender upon hearing a serenade of the old song, “Lay down your arms and surrender to mine!”.
Of course, the general public might be moved to respond in kind. Taking into account that this year is the RCMP’s centennial, it would be appropriate to hear a few bars of “Happy Birthday to You”, drifting from passing cars back to the officers sitting in their cleverly concealed radar trap!
When criticism of the Force arises, as is does from time to time, the policemen would be able to put their case forward through music. The the accompaniment of the RCMP Band, the entire Force could gather on the lawn of Parliament Hill in Ottawa and begin singing the immortal classic of Gilbert and Sullivan which is as appropriate today as when it was written some seventy-five years ago. The RCMP officer and men could remind the people of Canada that “A policeman’s lot is not an ‘appy’ one!”
Peggy Halstead, Winnipeg, formerly of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
A big “Thank You” to the Halsteads for remember the contribution music made to the RCMP Centennial. It really was a special year when we toured the entire country performing with the world class Centennial Review and presenting our own unique solo concerts. We brought much pleasure to Canadians everywhere.
Garth Hampson – Sept. 16th, 2021.
With the approach of the Fall season once more we are reminded of the valiant run of Canada’s hero Terry Fox. Everyone of that era remembers when his run ended at Thunder Bay and the sadness we all felt at his having to return to Vancouver and terminate his race across Canada. Canada was given a true hero on that day. The following February, the RCMP Band was in the midst of it winter program season at the National Arts Center here in Ottawa. I thought it would make people feel good at our February Valentine concert to create a greeting for Terry through the full house we had in attendance. I called ‘A’ Div. who supplied me with uniformed members to receive signatures and greeting on each of the four levels in the foyer. When the concert ended we had garnered over 2300 signatures on our special card. I took the card out to the Ottawa airport where it was given to attendants on the flight to Vancouver. Arrangements were made for everyone on the flight to sign the card as well and when the plane landed on the west coast our arranged meeting with an RCMP Inspector, a friend of the Fox family, took place. This greeting which began earlier in the day in Ottawa was then hand delivered to the Fox residence in the early evening. Close to 3000 signatures in admiration of this great Canadian. We are all the better for the vision and determination of this young man who has made us all proud and who will be forever, our hero.
I have fond memories of the RCMP Band in Saskatoon . I was a member of the Saskatoon Lions band and one of our graduate members, a trumpet player had just joined the RCMP band. I had seen the band play with the musical ride and there was nothing more beautiful . These memories are from the early 60s I think but in my late 70s now, I will never forget them! It was a sad day for Canada when the band was shut down.
CHRISTMAS GREETING OF 2021 TO ALL OF YOU.
This has been another strange year of dealing with the pandemic and we have to wonder if we will ever be free of all the restrictions and get to some normalcy.
Randy Demmon has been working diligently with a small team to bring the RCMP Band to readers around the world. Many interviews have been made and a ton of pictures have been gone through. Each one has brought back great memories which we were all part of. One of the most knowledgeable people on the Band is Harold Pretty. He seems to have the key to open doors to new stories. This past week he forwarded me the background of one of the Band members of the Lydall era and I invite you to Google this individual who is recorded as being one of our instrumentalists and Force members but, lo and behold, he was a war hero who was a Flying Officer in the RCAF. I suggest you look up Reg. # 13048, Arthur John Percival Byford and read of his exploits through WW2. He was given many honors, including a DFC.
We hope that the Band Book will be ready for the Force Sesquicentennial in 2023 – it will make for good reading for sure. In the mean time we trust you will all have a wonderful Christmas with best wishes for 2022.
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