Brockville Pipes and Drums

Brockville, Ontario

Monday, July 22, 2024

Memorial Day In Clayton

A History of our Band Involvement by Stewart Nimmo

Some ten-fifteen years ago Alistair Burnett, our retired Drum Major, used to go over to Clayton to play golf with his friends there, many of whom belonged to the American Legion.

One of those friends, Charlie Stage, (and I suspect some others) persuaded Alistair to round up a couple of pipers to go over to Clayton on Memorial Day and play bagpipes at some point while the Legionnaires held a Civil War Re-enactment. So Alistair, Larry Fitzpatrick and Scott Fraser went to Clayton and Grindstone Island on May 30, 2011 and played as requested. At some point during the day, those three career policemen (federal, provincial and municipal) were persuaded to position themselves on a marker buoy in the river -- probably highly illegal! Photographic proof of that misdeed exists (it has taken me 12 years to get my hands on this photo).

In the following year and all subsequent years, the invitation was extended to the entire band to participate with the Clayton American Legion in their Memorial Day Services -- there are usually seven services altogether, beginning at about 6:30 am at various area cemeteries and the Clayton Monument (Cenotaph) followed by two services on Grindstone Island. The first four services are at cemeteries around Clayton and usually involve a solo piper -- this year there were five pipers at most of these early services.

Our main contact for the day has always been Charlie Stage. Alistair contacted me last January or February and suggested that we surprise Charlie and show up with band kit for him to wear on Memorial Day. I agreed. The problem was how to determine the appropriate size of kilt without giving away the surprise in advance. In the week before Memorial Day Alistair told me that he would be unable to go to Clayton on Memorial Day due to health reasons. After a little thought, I decided that we would follow through with kitting out Charlie and the surprise would be for Alistair. I phoned Charlie, who was visiting his daughter in Virginia, and informed him of our intent to dress him for at least a part of Memorial Day; he agreed and I asked him for the appropriate measurements. Bob House and his wife drove up to the Brockville Legion a couple of days later and measured every kilt in the closet!!! (Every kilt in the closet is now marked with its measurements.) Bob picked out the kilt which would best fit the measurements Charlie had provided -- Charlie lied slightly!!! I was there and assisted Bob, picking out the other parts of the uniform.

Alistair phoned me a day or two before Memorial Day; he was almost in tears as he wished me and the Band well for the day.

Charlie participated in the early memorial services and at the Clayton Monument wearing proper appropriate veteran's uniform. Then, with the parade commander's permission, he went to the back of Bob House's van and changed into our band outfit (more or less) which he wore for the Grindstone Island trip and services. After returning to the Clayton Legion Post we rounded up Charlie and the Post Commander and presented Charlie with a framed copy of the photograph of the three men on a buoy above, with the suggestion that it be hung somewhere in the Post.

As you can see, Charlie very much enjoyed his time as the temporary mascot of the Brockville Pipes & Drums.

For photos from the 2016 memorial Day Celebraion, click here.