Becoming the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Pipes and Drums
Although the current 78th Highlanders competition bands have been sponsored by the Halifax Citadel Society since 2001, their roots stretch back to the 1930s. At that time, the Halifax Police Department (HPD) first sponsored a fife and drum band which eventually developed into a pipe band, also maintained by the HPD. Members of this police band subsequently became the Queen Elizabeth High School Cadet Corps Pipe Band. By the 1970s, the name of the group changed again to the Wylde Thyme Pipe Band.
A new sponsor
In 1983, members of the Wylde Thyme band successfully negotiated a sponsorship from the city of Halifax and the HPD to form the Halifax Police Association Pipes and Drums.
The band’s first Pipe Major was Robert Smith. However, Smith gave up the reins to Wayne Moug, shortly following the sponsorship change. Moug was soon joined by Drum Sergeant Dave Danskin.
Beginning in 1984, the new band competed at the Grade Three level for five years, winning several Champion Supreme awards in Atlantic Canada and placing second at the World Pipe Band Championships.
Moving on up
In 1989, the band was promoted to the Grade Two level. By then, Doug Boyd had taken over as Pipe Major and with Dave Danskin still in command of the drum section, the band grew and improved. It won the Grade Two North American Championship at Maxville in 1992 and was promoted to Grade One that same year.
A major breakthrough
In the fall of 1994, the Grade One band came under the leadership of Pipe Major John Walsh. Originally from Bradford, England, Walsh brought a wealth of experience to the group as he had played with several top bands, including Shotts and Dykehead, British Caledonian Airways and the 78th Fraser Highlanders. Under Walsh’s direction, the band’s stock continued to rise and the group won its first Grade One contest in 1998 in Montreal, Quebec.
Work and family commitments forced Walsh to step back from the Pipe Major’s position in 1999. However, the band continued to perform strongly throughout contests in Atlantic Canada with Pipe Sergeant Jack MacLean at the helm. In the fall of 1999, Roderick MacLean was appointed Acting Pipe Major and a solid performance in the Grade One contest at the World Championships completed the band’s 2000 competition season.
Another new sponsor
In 2001, the band was offered a sponsorship by the Halifax Citadel Society and it accepted, thus necessitating a name change to the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Pipes and Drums. In that same year, the band also fielded a Grade Five band in competition in Atlantic Canada.