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.