The Antigonish Highland Games Hall of Fame will be welcoming bagpiper Doug Boyd, from Antigonish, to its esteemed membership during this Thursday’s (July 11) induction ceremony.
Boyd, who splits his time these days between Halifax and Arisaig, described the Games as a “real institution.”
“It’s something that has been around forever and I grew up with my whole life,” Boyd said. “It’s always important to us. It has always been very important to my family and I look forward to the Highland Games every year. Since I was born, it’s just one of those things.”
Asked about what went through his mind upon receiving word he had been selected for the hall, Boyd said, immediately, you think about the friends who helped you “to be part of the Highland Games.”
“Through your playing, the rush you get being part of the Games and just how much you learned along the way … those types of things,” he said, the gratitude coming out in his tone.
As for prominent memories of his Games’ experience, Boyd talked the piping competition.
“Hearing the great players and bands, and competing with the bands; that was always an honour,” he said.
Boyd also reflected on the fact the Games has always acted as an unofficial homecoming for Antigonishers and those from surroundings communities.
“Always the biggest part of the Antigonish Highland Games is that it’s one of those events, during the year in Antigonish, that is sort of a big homecoming,” he said. “The people you see, get to reconnect with, that is always a highlight for me.”
And it will be again this year as Boyd noted he makes sure to keep the weekend open on his calendar.
“I don’t know if I’ve missed a Games since I was born,” he said, adding he is very much looking forward to the induction ceremony at the East Coast Credit Union Social Enterprise Centre.
“Piping has been important to my life, it has made a huge impact on my life and that is why being part of this ceremony will be special to me,” he said.
“It allows you to reflect on all the people who have helped you, the contributions made to you and all the friends and family who have been part of that over the years; that’s the bottom line for me.”
Barry Ewen by Anita Flowers
Barry Ewen’s mother loved bagpipes and encouraged her son to begin piping at age nine.
Ewen joined the Knightwood Juveniles Band in his hometown of Bellshill, Scotland. At 17, he became the Scottish Solo Amateur Champion and repeated the championship a year later. Ewen found that he loved the camaraderie of the competitions.
“I enjoyed being in the competition and going for the win,” he says.
In April 1968, Ewen left Scotland to become the director of Bagpipe Music at St. Ann’s Gaelic College on Cape Breton Island and created the Gaelic College Pipe Band. His work at St. Ann’s and with regional pipe bands influenced many pipers who carried on the tradition by becoming teachers themselves.
The first contest Ewen attended in Canada was at the Antigonish Highland Games. Ewen attended the Games for 14 years and was instrumental in improving the standard of performance there and throughout Nova Scotia. He also helped to influence the Nova Scotia Pipers and Pipe Band Association to form an approved panel of judges and to adopt a graded system for rating bands.
In 1974, he became the pipe major for the Antigonish Legion Pipe Band. Under Ewen’s leadership, the Antigonish Legion Pipe Band enjoyed a string of successes, including Maritime Championship titles, the Inter-Continental Championship in 1975, and a third-place win at the World Pipe Band Championships in Hawick, Scotland.
In 1978, he became pipe major for the Scotia Legion Pipe Band and, after a move to Ontario, joined the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band of Ontario. He later worked with the Windsor Police Band.
Now, he’ll be recognized for all of his contributions to the instrument as he’s inducted into the Highland Games Hall of Fame in Antigonish.
“I’m proud and delighted to have been selected for the hall of fame. I’m honored to be a part of the whole pipe band society and that they would consider me for such an award,” Ewen said.