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The Kilties souvenir album
Songs and marches of "Auld Scotia"

Kilties, touring band (1902-1933)

Photograph of the label on a Kilties record, showing the colourful plaid with black lettering. (Also known as the Regimental Band of the Gordon Highlanders)

Formed in Toronto, by members of the 48th Highlanders Band, to keep some touring commitments of that group, the Kilties Band of Belleville, Ontario, was one of Canada's most popular international touring bands of its day. Thomas P.J. Power and William F. Robinson were its first bandmasters, and its membership at times included cornetist, Mr. Voss, and pipe sergeant, David Ferguson (who also recorded bagpipe solos for Berliner). Playing at parks and touring on the vaudeville circuit, they eventually performed in 20 countries, appearing at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 and giving two Royal Command Performances in Britain. From 1908 to 1910 they went around the world, and in 1915 played to great critical acclaim at the Panama-San Diego Exposition.

The famous Scotch-Canadian band, known as the "Kilties," will arrive by the Melbourne express on Friday morning. In the evening, led by two giant drum-majors, each well over 7 ft. in height, and headed by a local band, they will march from the Post-Office to the Exhibition Building, where a first concert will, be given.. Sergeant-Major Roderick Bain McKenzie, one of the two giant drum-majors, is already in Adelaide. He is a fine specimen of perfectly-proportioned manhood, standing 7 ft. 1 in. in his socks, and weighing 23J stone, he is 33 years of age. and comes of "a Scottish stock". His father, who was born at Loch Carron, Scotland, was 7 ft. 11 in. in height, and his mother, who belongs to the Black MaCrae clan of Kintail, and is a native of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, can boast a stature of 6 ft. 1 in. McKenzie, who first saw the light at Lucknow, Ontario, in 1877, has served in the British army, and still the Reserves. He enlisted in Canada in the second battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, and was stationed with his regiment in Scotland, India, and elsewhere. During the Boer war he fought in Natal under General Buller, and subsequently under General Ian Hamilton. Of the engagement on Spion Kop, where he was in the thick of the fight, he carries several mementos in the shape of bullet wounds. At the conclusion of the war he met the Kilties Band at the St. Louis World's Fair and he joined them. "You can say," said the sergeant-major to a representative of "The Advertiser" on Monday, "I like Australia immensely, and I've travelled some. I am not the giant of the Kilties Band, as Donald MeCormick, our other drum-major, who is recognised as one of Canada's beat oarsmen, can give me an inch in height. As for our costume, it is Canadian and it is Scotch. Canada has adopted the kilts, and all our seven fortresses are manned by 'the, men in kilts.' As for the quality of tne band, well-four times it was commanded to appear at the Court of his Majesty King Edward. One thing more-if you want to see Scotch piping and dancing you must see Albert Johnstone, of Dundee, Scotland, who is the champion piper of the world, and the Johnstone troupe of dancers. But this is talking shop. Good-bye."

Sergeant-Major McKenzie got. off the chair, which was creaking under his weight, and stooping low to avoid striking his head against the doorway, passed out into the street.

Download The Kilties souvenir album here in pdf format

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