Local History

Pipe Major Newlands Story

Since the early 14th century, Scottish warriors used musical instruments (horns or bagpipes) to intimidate their adversaries and the Canadian Military has long adopted the tradition.

123 years ago, Alexander Newlands, son of a Scottish immigrant, was born in Toronto in 1889. By 1914, during World War One, he enlisted with the 48th Highlanders of Canada and was issued a set of Peter Henderson brand bagpipes. Alexander became Pipe Major of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1st Canadian Expeditionary Force, 15th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, the first of its kind to head overseas.

He spent 5 years in Europe playing bagpipes at almost every major battle of the Great War including Vimy Ridge. It was during this battle at Vimy where the fighting became so intense he put down his pipes to wield his sniper rifle instead.

Vimy Ridge
(The Battle of Vimy Ridge. Source: Wikipedia)

Newlands lost his bagpipes in the commotion of that historic battle and carried on without them, but 3 days later on the battlefield a fellow soldier approached him and said “I heard you lost your bagpipes,” then presented them. Alexander Newlands had his pipes back and continued playing them for 55 years.

Tragedy, and Alexander’s Legacy

At age 82 in 1972, and now living in Maple Ridge, Alexander retired from piping. He gave his pipes to Bob Young, a family friend to have them continue being played. Alexander passed away in 1982 and a year later, his grandson, Colin Newlands began piping so Bob gave them back to the family.

Edinburgh Castle
(Source: Edinburgh Castle)

Colin Campbell Newlands
Colin Newlands around 1993, age 22

Colin, whose family moved to Surrey in 1974, fulfilled his grandfather’s wishes and played those pipes so well that as an Air Cadet was selected as one of fewer than 30 from across Canada in 1987, to be part of the first cadet contingent to ever play at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland for the prestigious Edinburgh Tattoo. Tragically, after 13 years of piping, Colin passed away from an aneurysm in 1996.

Brothers in Arms

Compelled to carry on the legacy of his grandfather, Colin’s older brother Garth (who also served in the military) a year later at 27 took up the bagpipes, and played these same bagpipes which were once on that battlefield during Canada’s major defining moment, the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

A Random Encounter

In early May this year I was jogging by the Whalley Athletic Park near my home and saw this man with a really nice SLR camera and zoom lens snapping pictures of his son playing baseball. I had interest in a story about Little League for Surrey604 so I approached him about providing some photos. He introduced himself as Garth Newlands.

I had no idea who he was at all, but shortly after I discovered he was an avid blogger and guest author for Civic Surrey blog and I invited him to write the article for us about Little League.

Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band

Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band

He mentioned I might be interested in doing a feature on his Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band – a group of pipers, drummers and highland dancers who perform at community events throughout the year. I dropped by their Thursday night practice at the Whalley Legion with my video camera, and later met up with them during their performance at Surrey Canada Day Celebrations in Cloverdale. Here are the interviews and footage I took:

Garth was instrumental in creating the Whalley Legion based pipe band and its tartan honours his lost brother. Read the full history here…

The Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band are always looking for individuals of all ages to join their ranks. You can find them on the web at www.chcpb.ca, Facebook and Twitter or even YouTube.

Keep watch for The Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band at upcoming events such as BC Summer Games, Fusion Fest and the Surrey International World Music Marathon.

Garth and Melanie Show Me Around the Whalley Legion

About the Whalley Legion

(From Legion website)

The Whalley Branch #229 Royal Canadian Legion is one of over 160 in B.C./Yukon Command. Whalley is in North Surrey, British Columbia, forming part of the city centre and a short walk south of the Gateway Skytrain station.

“We have a games room offering pool, darts, cribbage, and a big screen TV. Our lounge has live entertainment on Wednesday evenings and weekends, and has a large dance floor. We host a variety of events all year round. Thursday night is our “Crib Night” and “In-house Pool League” and both Saturday and Sunday afternoons we have our weekly meat draws. Upstairs is an auditorium with full kitchen and bar facilities available for meetings, dinners, dances and conferences. The Whalley Legion Branch 229 has a long and proud history in the community and hosts a parade for Remembrance Day November 11. The Legion also sponsors Youth, Cadets, Sports, Seniors Housing, and has donated over $50,000 to Veterans in need, bursaries, charities, and other causes in 2004.”

History of the Whalley Legion

In 1947 about 40 veterans gathered to start a local branch of the Canadian Legion in the Whalley area, at that time named after the Whalley family, who operated the local gas and store at the corner of 108 ave and the Pacific Highway (later named the King George Highway) The Charter for the North Surrey Branch No. 229, Canadian Legion was received in January of 1948.

Whalley's Corner
(Read more about Arthur Whalley and the history of Whalley here…)

History of the Whalley Legion
(Groundbreaking for Whalley Legion Hall. Source: Whalley Legion)

One of the first organizations in Whalley’s Corner, next to the Ladies Community Guild, the originating members held their first meetings in local church basements and members’ garages. It wasn’t long before they began construction of a small community hall on Grosvenor Road through donated materials and labour. The Ladies Auxiliary, formed in same year, actively helped with fund raising.

Whalley Legion Cenotaph

In 1951, the first Remembrance Service was held on the grounds of the Grosvenor Road School and in 1952, a new Cenotaph was erected on the traffic island at 108th avenue & the Pacific Highway. With the construction of the current King George Boulevard, the cenotaph was moved to its current location for caretaking until a new city site is finalized.

In 1954, with unprecedented growth in the area, a new community hall was completed (adjacent to the current building) again through fundraisers, the sales of debentures to members and volunteer effort. By 1960 continued growth and community work lead up to construction of the present building, at the time being the most spacious facility in the Lower Mainland.

Since that time the Whalley Branch has carried on its work in the community, becoming a gathering place for thousands of members over the years and a showcase for local entertainers.

Surrey604 Facebook Album: Surrey Canada Day 2012

Photos by Esmir, Fatima & Daman.

Daman Beatty
The creator of Surrey604.com, Daman Beatty (AKA 'Beatler') is originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Daddy.