A long standing tradition in
Highland Regiments has been the use of banners, attached to the bass drones of the pipers,
displaying the crest of the Colonel and the field officers.
The oldest known evidence of a
banner being attached to the bass drone of a bagpipe comes from an engraving made in 1743,
depicting the Cross of St. George hanging from the bass drone of a piper in highland
military costume. It is possible that this practice was not purely a military one
and was in fact carried into the military by the pipers of clan chiefs, though this has
not been formally established.
During the 1700s, pipers were
not paid by the Government, but by the officers of Highland units personally. It
became natural for the pipers to carry the insignia of the officers who dressed and
employed them. In the days when commissions were purchased, it could be expected
that each field officer would have been in possession of a personal coat of arms.
Commissions were granted based on wealth, family, position and influence, and officers of
the period were often keen on displaying their arms and social status to fellow officers.
As the regulations regarding
Regimental Colours were formalized over the years, there was no such regulation of
military pipe banners. Over time, however, as pipers began to be employed by the
government directly beginning in the mid 1800s, it become more correct to display the
insignia of the regiment on one side of the pipe banner, and the personal arms on the
other. At some point it also became presumptuous for junior officers to have their
status displayed through the use of pipe banners, and the practice became, unofficially,
restricted to senior officers.
Currently, in British and
Canadian practice, it is more common for officers to purchase banners only after having
been appointed to command a company, and to have his banner carried by one of the company
pipers. Even in Britain, fewer officers come from army families, and especially in
Canada, cultural diversity often means that officers have to matriculate arms before being
able to present a banner.
Other banners, presented to
Regiments by cities, towns, or eminent persons with some special connection to the
Regiment, may also present banners to military pipe bands. These become the property
of the Regiment, while personal pipe banners are theoretically the property of the officer
presenting them, unless the officer has made a point of presenting them to the Regiment.
One published history of pipe
banners sums up the practice thusly:
Each regiment has its own
rules and customs about when, where and who carries the pipe banners. They are not
consecrated like Colours and have no major significance. They are simply attractive
decorations of considerable heraldic interest.
As tradition evolved, it became
customary to use the facing colour of the regiment on one side or the other of the pipe
banner, with the other side in either a colour selected by the owner, or by the regiment
for the sake of uniformity. The Calgary Highlanders have adopted, with one
exception, the use of Government Tartan on the right side of the banner (the piper's right
hand side, when playing the instrument) and the use of the different colours on the
The Force Mobile Command banner
illustrated above was presented by then-Major General AJG de Chastelain, Deputy Commander
of FMC. As per regimental custom, the right side of the banner is in regimental
Government Tartan with the Regimental cap badge embroidered in gold and silver with
natural coloured highlights. The edge of the banner is fringed in gold and three
pairs of silk ribbons are provided to tie the banner to the bass drone. The
right side on all regimental pipe banners are of this pattern.
The left side of the banner was done in an appropriate
colour, in this case Canadian Forces Green (CF Green or "rifle green" was the
colour of uniform adopted upon Unification of the armed forces). The badge of Force
Mobile Command is placed in the centre of the coloured field.
The banner is representative of all banners
carried by the Regimental Pipes and Drums after 1990.
The tradition has
evolved in the Calgary Highlanders such that the Commanding Officer and all officers with
a major appointment are expected to have a pipe banner. The Commanding Officer's
pipe banner is carried by the Pipe Major. Pipers designated as company pipers may
carry the banner of their company commander.
Other pipe banners commemorate associations with perpetuate units,
allied regiments, formations, former commanders, and the City of Calgary.
Retired pipe banners are displayed in the
Officers' Mess, the office of the Commanding Officer, or in the Regimental Museum.
The banner itself has an obverse (right hand)
side which displays the regimental badge on a tartan background. The reverse (left
hand) side displays either the personal coat of arms of an officer, or the badge of an
associated unit, formation, retired commander, etc.
(retired) H. Vince O'Connor presents his personal pipe banner to piper Patrick Yeates
during the lead up to the Queen's Visit in 1990. Several pipe banners were presented
to the Regiment by regimental officers, both serving and retired, in preparation for this
visit. Lieutenant Colonel O'Connor had commanded the Calgary Highlanders in the late
The banner is
fringed in gold, and secured to the bass drone by three silk ribbons. The banners
are always worn in Full (Ceremonial) Dress and may be worn in other orders of dress as
Pipe Banners are kept in
a strict order of precedence. Upon assuming command, the Commanding Officer presents
his pipe banner to the Pipe Major; the other pipe banners are assigned to pipers based on
this order of precedence and the seniority of each piper.
The first pipe banners were presented to the
Calgary Highlanders in the 1920s by the allied regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders of the British Army. As the original banners fell into disuse, three new
banners were presented in 1958 by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, JJ Bowlen.
These banners were worn by the pipe band until retirement in the 1990s, and bore the coat
of arms of Colonel EL Harvie, Colonel G Stott and Colonel DE Lewis.
|Colonel Harvie Banner
||Colonel Lewis Banner
||Colonel Stott Banner
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Tennant, CM, ED, CD,
presented the regiment with the banner shown at right. The banner was made by hand
by Mrs. A.H. Ellison, the mother of Mrs. S. C. Nickel (wife of Colonel Sam Nickel).
Before retirement in 1990, this banner was always carried by the Pipe Major.
In 1982, banners were presented by Major
Zieffle, then Deputy Commanding Officer of the Regiment, and Honourary Colonel FP Mannix.
In 1984, Lieutenant Colonel Kempling of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light
Infantry presented a PPCLI banner to the regiment. Other banners presented in the
early 1980s included the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) banner presented by Lieutenant
Colonel PF Hughes, then Commanding Officer of the Calgary Highlanders, and a Force Mobile
Command banner. This banner was presented by General AJG de Chastelain, then
commanding FMC. General de Chastelain began his military career as a piper in the
Calgary Highlanders. This banner is now retired.
Colonel in Chief's Visit
In 1990, a major effort was undertaken to
have pipe banners presented to the regiment in order that the entire band might have them
on display during the Presentation of Queen's Colour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
II in June of that year.
General AJG de Chastelain, then Chief of the
Defence Staff (the highest military appointment in Canada), played on parade with the
Regimental Pipes and Drums during the Presentation ceremony. He wore a standard
Calgary Highlanders uniform, embroidered with his badges of rank, and carried his own
tri-services pipe banner, representing the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole. To the
regiment, he presented his own personal pipe banner, which was carried by Pipe Major
Henderson on parade.
General de Chastelain
Other presentations during the lead up to
the Queen's Visit included banners from Colonel JE Fletcher, Major RJ Goebel, Lieutenant
Colonel (retired) HV O'Connor, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Maitland, and Major Warren Spaan.
Colonel Fletcher and Lieutenant Colonel O'Connor had previously commanded the
Highlanders, and Majors Goebel and Spaan would both go on to command the Highlanders after
Lieutenant Colonel Maitland.
banners displayed the personal coats of arms of the presenting officers, with the
exception of Major Goebel's, which depicted the badge of the Tenth Battalion, CEF.
Major Goebel, upon assuming command of the Calgary Highlanders in 1997,
presented a second banner to the regiment with his personal coat of arms.
Major RJ Goebel, Deputy Commanding Officer, presents his pipe banner to
Corporal Bruce McKay.
His Worship Al Duerr, Mayor of The City of Calgary,
presented a banner bearing the city's coat of arms to the Regiment in 1992.
Honourary Lieutenant Colonel RR McDaniels,
Lieutenant Colonel JL Moffatt, Lieutenant Colonel P Grime, Major R Ansell, Captain M ter
Kuile and Major ED Stoyle have all presented their personal banners to the Regimental
Pipes and Drums. In 1994, Major RJ Rooney, CD presented his, as did then-Adjutant
Captain TR Copplestone (pictured at right).
Lieutenant Colonel FL Villiger presented his
pipe banner to the Regiment while still a Major.