Ten pipe bands from across the province and one from south of the border gathered in Nelson this weekend, but it was the Kootenay Kiltie Pipe Band who sat centre stage. On Saturday mayor John Dooley awarded the 100-year-old organization the Freedom of the City. It is the highest award a municipality can bestow upon a person or organization, and just the third time a local group has been awarded the honour.
Pipe Major David Hogg called it an honour and a privilege.
“One hundred years is a long time,” said Hogg.
“Coming up to join us this weekend we had Reid Maxwell from Simon Frasier University — who’s had lots of accolades in his own right — but he said he’s never, ever played in a pipe band who has had a 100th anniversary before. And he’s not likely to. I think that summarizes it for all of us today. Here we are. This organization is 100.”
Dooley praised the local organization for its contribution to the community and those surrounding Nelson. He called them ambassadors to the city.
“There is rarely a parade in the Kootenay region that they do not step up to the plate and represent our community,” said Dooley. “They are incredibly important to the fabric of our country, not only our city.”
Hogg recognized former members Patsy Wright and Norm Hamson, 84.
Hamson joined the local pipe band in the 1940s.
He said he had never seen so many pipe bands in one place before.
At least 65 people in West Kootenay/Boundary — 52 men and 13 women — and three armed forces units, have received freedom of the city or village since 1947.
— With files from Greg Nesteroff