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Gilbert Richard Duncan Young to be inducted into Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame

The annual induction dinner for the Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame takes place on Friday, May 24, at the Bonnie Glen Pavilion in Alexandria, Ontario. The evening begins with cocktails at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. sharp. This year’s inductees are Gilbert Young, Bill Vipond, Kahlil Cappuccino and the band The Clansmen. Here is a biography of inductee Gilbert Young.

Gilbert Young has been a long-time contributor for more than 60 years to the Glengarry Highland Games both as a performer and as the leader of pipe band activities which are the highlight of the Games where he has served as Director of Bands. As such, he has had a major impact on Celtic Music in Glengarry.

He was born October 26, 1941, in Harrington, Quebec to Coral and Elsie Young.

He married the late Evelyn Chisholm in September 10, 1966 and they have two children: Trudy and Troy. (Gilbert is truly indebted to the support of Evelyn in his career, family and piping endeavours for over 50 years.)

In about 1945-46, Gilbert first heard the Highland Bagpipe when attending a picnic in a grove in Avoca, Quebec. A mini band from the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada was playing on July 12 and he was stricken with the sound. Needless to say, when the first Glengarry Highland Games were held in 1948 in Maxville, Ontario, he was there and totally mesmerized by the sights, sounds and pageantry.

His dad and mom were totally supportive and continued to maintain the connection with members of the Black Watch Pipe Band from Montreal who were competing members at the Games in those years. His first teacher, Jock Collie, was one of the pipers and during the Games in 1950, he recommended a practice chanter, manufactured by Peter Henderson, along with a Logan’s Tutor. Gilbert’s dad purchased these at one of the concessions. Gilbert still uses this chanter today for practice and learning new tunes.

Hence, the numerous trips from Harrington, Quebec, all the way to Montreal, Quebec, would begin for lessons from this piper. In those days, that was almost a four hour return trip in a Ford pick-up.

Gilbert’s involvement with pipe bands over the years is truly remarkable, both locally and outside the Glengarry area.

In 1954, interest in piping and drumming developed by other young people in the area of Harrington and Kilmar led to the formation of the Harrington – Kilmar Pipe Band. As Pipe Major, Gilbert took this band onto the field to compete in Grade Three (there were only three grades) in 1957, 1958 and1959 at Maxville and also competed in the Games at Fergus, Ontario.

Gilbert continued to compete at Maxville with subsequent bands such as the Campbell – Harrington, RCAF Rockcliffe (Grade One) and as Pipe Sergeant of the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Bands. The OPS Band won the North American Championship in Grade Four in the 1990’s. He was also a member of the Campbell Pipe Band of Ottawa, under Pipe Major Sam Scott, for a period of time and shared the opportunity to be a member of the Confederation Pipe Band which led the parade for the official opening of the Confederation Bridge between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

He was also a member of the RCAF highland dance team in the early 1960’s that performed with the dance team of the 2nd Battalion Canadian Guards in the sunset ceremonies on Parliament Hill with Governor General Georges Vanier in attendance. This dance team also performed at the old Capital Theatre in Ottawa, at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, WA and the Broadmoor Theatre in Colorado Springs, CO.

Gilbert played with the RCAF Band between 1960 and 2001 and during that time, competed, performed and travelled widely in North America in addition to places such as France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In 1962, the Band participated at the World’s Fair in Seattle, WA, as part of a 650 Canadian Contingent performing at the Military Tattoo. Competing at the International Grade One Quartet Competition in 1966, held at the Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow, Scotland, he was a member of a quartet, led by P/M Archie Cairns, which came fifth behind the Shotts and Dykehead.  The band was also privileged to play for Royalty including the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

He has participated in Highland Games in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Middleton, Nova Scotia, Montreal, QC, Glengarry, Ottawa, Cambridge, Fergus, Kincardine, Embro, Toronto, Uxbridge and North Lanark in Ontario plus, Syracuse and Schenectady, NY, Brookline, MA, Loon Mountain, NH, Stone Mountain, GA, Estes Park, CO in the United States.

For the past 18 years, Gilbert has participated as Pipe Sergeant with the RCMP Pipe Band, National Division from Ottawa under the direction of Pipe Major Graeme Ogilvie. Needless to say, the RCMP Band continues to be a great supporter of the Glengarry Highland Games. There are no less than 12 members of the RCMP Pipe Band who assist on an individual basis volunteering as stewards, committee members and M.C’s at the Band Competition Circles. In 1999, Gilbert was involved in coordinating the Ottawa Police and RCMP Pipe Bands in conjunction with the RCMP Musical Ride for a show which was a major fund raiser to expand the seating area in the grandstand at Maxville. For several years, Gilbert had the honour of piping in the head table at the annual Tartan Ball.

Highlights of his time with the RCMP include being a member of a composite RCMP Band that performed for the 70th celebration for the Carlson Group in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their segment as part of a worldwide representation in a show at the Planet Hollywood which included the singer, Tony Bennett and Regis Philbin as the Master of Ceremonies. The audience included the Queen of Sweden.

In 2009, Gilbert was again privileged to be one of 13 in a composite band that were guests of the Queen in the Royal Apartments in Windsor Castle. During this time, they participated in the Windsor Tattoo and in the last show, the RCMP Band led a procession for the purpose of presenting the Queen with a horse, George, from the RCMP.

In the first week of September, 2018, Gilbert joined a RCMP Composite Band, Dancers and Flag Party from Halifax, N.S., for a week. They travelled to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and then participated in the Belfast International Tattoo in Belfast, Northern Ireland. For the last 14 days of September, he was part of a 60 member RCMP Composite Band, Dancers and Flag Party that travelled to Shanghai, Wuzhen, Hangzhou, Beijing, China where they participated in several performances one of which was televised for an audience of over 200 million people.

Some would say that the biggest impact Gilbert Young has had on Glengarry music has been his work as Director of Bands for the Glengarry Highland Games

Around 1998, Dale Munro,  Director of the Tattoo, was looking for someone to replace Pipe Major John MacKenzie as Director of the Tattoo Bands. Pipe Major Pat Hayes recommended Gilbert, who accepted the challenge.

In 2000, Gilbert succeeded Lynne MacGillivray as overall Director of Bands – a position which he continues to hold for the Glengarry Highland Games.

This important portfolio involves the coordination and cooperation of numerous directors and includes a close liaison with the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario. The PPBSO administers the competitions for approximately 250 solo pipers and drummers in addition to the more than fifty bands that compete each year. The largest number of bands in any given year was 72. Duties for the Director of Bands include the scheduling of more than 30 stewards and judges for each of the Friday and Saturday competitions. Equipment for each competition site must be provided, plus the scheduling of the bands for the respective grades and circles, in addition to the organizing of positions and closing ceremonies for massed bands. This in itself requires monthly meetings, many hours on the computer, an annual trip to the PPBSO AGM in Milton, ON.

Beginning in 2012, Gilbert initiated a new form of recognition for the winners of the North American Champions for the respective grades. Through the cooperation of André Pommier of Pommier Jewelers, a pin was designed and co-sponsored by Pommier Jewelers so that each member of the winning band would receive a lapel pin which includes the Glengarry Highland Games crest, grade and the year of the Championship.

One of the highlights for Gilbert as Director of Bands was organizing the participation of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band in 2007 as the feature act in the Tattoo. The SFU had just won the World’s Pipe Band Championship for the fifth time. They were the main feature of the Friday Night Tattoo and were the Grade One North American Champions on the Saturday. He also reminisces with pride the videos displayed during the Friday Night Tattoo of members of our military and police in our area who were serving in Afghanistan and the Sudan in the 2000’s. Their messages were meaningful and touching to the family members in attendance as well as the Tattoo audience and the Bands on the field.

In general, volunteering began early for Gilbert, helping out his local church as a Sunday school teacher and as a cub and scout leader. He served on various volunteer committees, including work on the building of the arena in Vankleek Hill, his home since 1969.

Since his retirement in 2000, he spent considerable time teaching local pipers from the community and in particular, the Quigley Highlanders, South Glengarry and Glengarry Pipe Bands. He also provided leadership and instruction to cadet bands including the Air Cadets in Alexandria, ON. He continues to regularly pipe at Weddings, funerals and other solo events in the community.

In 2018, Gilbert was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation for his 18 years of volunteer service to the RCMP Pipe Band. During the 2018 Friday Night Tattoo, Gilbert was presented with the prestigious Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteerism by Assistant Commissionaire Michael Duheme, Commanding Officer of the RCMP National Division, Ottawa, on behalf of Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada. This award was a reflection of various areas of Gilbert’s volunteering. Firstly, his volunteer service of over 56 years in the Masonic Lodge, Quebec and Ontario, his contribution and service to military and police bands since 1960 and for his dedication to the Glengarry Highland Games.

When not piping, Gilbert has had an interesting and productive career .

He received his B.A. from Sir George Williams University in Montreal, his teaching certificate from McArthur College in Kingston, and his M. Ed. from the University of Ottawa. His teaching career began as a high school teacher at Plantagenet High School with the Nation Board, continuing on with the Prescott-Russell Board of Education and retiring from the Upper Canada District School Board as principal of Pleasant Corners Public School.


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