By John Thomson A recent report in the Peak on the Clansman Pipe Band brings to mind the following.
In 1960 the Powell River Company Pipe Band was practicing in the Vancouver International Tattoo. The band was part of the Tattoo Massed Pipes and Drums made up of several bands, military and civilian. In charge was Drum-Major John C. Moon 1st Battalion the Scots Guards. At the end of the Tattoo, the company band manager asked Moon if he would be interested in taking over the band as drum major. Returning to the United Kingdom and discussions with his wife, Moon decided to leave the army, take up the Powell River offer and move to Canada.
Following a sea voyage to Montreal then by rail to Vancouver, he was met by band members and conveyed by road and ferry to Powell River. All the band members except two were Scottish and award winning pipers. Three of the side drummers were world champions: George Pryde of Edinburgh city police, Bob Hetherington of the Red Hackle Band and Davie Bruce of Shafts and Dykehead. Very soon under the drum major’s guidance, the band went from strength to strength, wining the BC championships, the West Coast Games in Seattle, Washington and North American Champions in 1964.
Moon received an offer of employment as representative in New York for the US (United States) drum company Henry Potter. Having brought the Powell River band to perfection he decided to accept the offer and moved to the United States.
Henry Potter’s contract was that he would train the drum majors and bands of ceremonial units that ordered equipment from the company. For the next six years Moon worked with numerous bands, including the US Marine Corps Band and Drum and Bugle Corps DC, the US Air Force Band and Pipes and Drums in DC, several US army bands and many others. Eventually he became music director of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and assisted in forming the Corps of Drums of the historical re-enactment Virginia State Garrison Regiment. He eventually retired and settled in the US but continued to arrange music for various Corps of Drums throughout the country and the contract with Parks Canada to help train various of their music ensembles, one of them being a re-enactment group of 79th Highlanders at the Halifax Citadel, also working with the Field Music at Louisburg representing the Pipes and Drums of Les Marines Franches of 1740.
So ended a career in North America which began in Powell River but began years earlier from a boy to drum major in the Scots Guards.
John Thomson came to Powell River in 2008, after living in Scotland his entire life. He has written numerous articles for the Scottish Military Historical Society.