BY HUGH KRUZEL
Dave Linney was just a 10-year-old “tyke” when he was so moved by the sound of bagpipes that he had an overwhelming desire to join the 765 Copper Cliff Highlanders of Canada. Somehow, he convinced his father to march him over and sign him up.
That was the mid-1960s and that cadet band is now a mere memory. Linney went on to establish his own band, the Greater Sudbury Police Service Pipes and Drums Band and has been leading it honourably for 30 years.
“It was the summer of 1988. Sudbury was hosting the World Junior Championships here. There was a desire to have a band and an accompanying colour party for the opening and closing ceremonies as a one-time gig,” he says.
“It was successful, and so there was a decision to keep it going.”
Then chief of police, Richard Zanibbi, whole-heartedly supported the band. A grant from the police commission paid to outfit the players in Ramsey tartan.
“Our current members include 11 pipers, six drummers, two drum majors, and myself in the role of pipe major,” states Linney.
“We’re at Lockerby for practice every Monday night. We only miss if the school is closed. We apply to the Rainbow School Board every year (to use the space) and they willingly say yes!”
All of the pipers and drummers are volunteers. They take part in dozens of local activities when called upon. Of course, they pipe in the dignitaries at the arena on Remembrance Day.
“Our engagements vary from curling competitions, to commencements for high schools. There are about 50 events a year from Elliot Lake to Blind River and Espanola. Sometimes, we combine with the North Bay Legion or (play) with Duncan Cameron and Wild Geese.”
Every September, they join bands from across Canada in Ottawa in front of the Parliament Buildings for a memorial service honouring fallen police officers.
Its membership is not limited to men and women in policing, though Linney himself started with Metropolitan Toronto Police in 1974 walking the beat. By the late 1970s, he was back in Sudbury, with his bride, Brenda, to join the Sudbury Regional Police.
The band attracts participants from all walks of life including a heavy equipment operator from Nairn, a retired archaeologist, a home inspector, a civil servant who works for the province, someone who works at Costco, and an accountant.
Though the average age now is 56, the youngest member, Rachel Ellery, who is 20, represents the new spirit of the corps.
“I was in cadets so it is natural I went looking for an organization that had a tradition and supported community,” she says.