Sadly, Mr. Jack Whyte passed away on 22 February 2021.
In the early 1980s, several members of the Officers’ Mess invited Mister Jack Whyte to become Regimental Bard of The Calgary Highlanders.
Mister Whyte was born in Scotland and educated in England and France, emigrating to Canada in July 1967 as an English teacher. In July 1968 he sang as the opening act of the Grandstand Show at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, and left teaching to devote his life to public performances. He toured Canada performing a one-man show about Robert Burns, which he also researched, wrote, and directed. The show was intended to make Burns – the man and his works – understandable and appealing to Canadian audiences.
The success of this show led him to the CBC as a writer, and eventually a career in advertising. He also performed a series of one-man presentations in various military messes entitled “Songs and Poems of War and Empire.”
The culmination of Mr. Whyte’s service as Regimental Bard came in 1990 with the first professional commercial recording of the Regimental Pipes and Drums. Mr. Whyte wrote and performed a tribute to the Regiment’s performance at Walcheren Causeway entitled “Hallowe’en 1944.” He also put words to the traditional pipe tune “The Black Bear” which paid tribute to the officers and men of the Tenth Battalion who fought at the Battle of St. Julien in April 1915. In addition to performing these two tributes on the recording, he also sang “The Skye Boat Song” and “Westering Home” with the accompaniment of the Pipes and Drums. Finally, the words to Highland Cathedral were penned by Mister Whyte, though they are not sung on the recording. Instead, the Pipes and Drums played with the accompaniment of Mister Terence Fullerton on the Carthy Organ.
Mister Whyte has since turned to writing fiction and is an extremely successful author. His interest in 5th Century history and the 460-year Roman military occupation of Britain grew from his education in Scotland and cultivated a preoccupation with Arthurian legend. His works are designed to flesh out the King Arthur legend and the mystery of the Sword in the Stone. The first novel The Skystone was published in Canada, as part of the “A Dream of Eagles” series, in 1992. The Singing Sword followed in 1993, followed by The Eagles’ Brood in 1994, The Saxon Shore in 1995, and The Sorcerer in 1997, published in two halves of 500 pages each. All five novels have achieved Canadian Best-Seller status on the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Top Ten Best Seller list. The books have been successful in foreign markets and have been published in other languages.
After his work with the Regiment in 1990, Mister Whyte and his wife, with whom he had five children, moved to British Columbia. His talent has provided the Regiment with an easily accessible and entertaining set of tributes to fallen soldiers in both World Wars.