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Historical Background

A long standing tradition in Highland Regiments has been the use of banners, attached to the bass drones of the pipers, displaying the crest of the Colonel and the field officers. 

The oldest known evidence of a banner being attached to the bass drone of a bagpipe comes from an engraving made in 1743, depicting the Cross of St. George hanging from the bass drone of a piper in highland military costume.  It is possible that this practice was not purely a military one and was in fact carried into the military by the pipers of clan chiefs, though this has not been formally established.

During the 1700s, pipers were not paid by the Government, but by the officers of Highland units personally.  It became natural for the pipers to carry the insignia of the officers who dressed and employed them.  In the days when commissions were purchased, it could be expected that each field officer would have been in possession of a personal coat of arms.   Commissions were granted based on wealth, family, position and influence, and officers of the period were often keen on displaying their arms and social status to fellow officers.

As the regulations regarding Regimental Colours were formalized over the years, there was no such regulation of military pipe banners.  Over time, however, as pipers began to be employed by the government directly beginning in the mid 1800s, it become more correct to display the insignia of the regiment on one side of the pipe banner, and the personal arms on the other.  At some point it also became presumptuous for junior officers to have their status displayed through the use of pipe banners, and the practice became, unofficially, restricted to senior officers.

Currently, in British and Canadian practice, it is more common for officers to purchase banners only after having been appointed to command a company, and to have his banner carried by one of the company pipers.  Even in Britain, fewer officers come from army families, and especially in Canada, cultural diversity often means that officers have to matriculate arms before being able to present a banner.

Other banners, presented to Regiments by cities, towns, or eminent persons with some special connection to the Regiment, may also present banners to military pipe bands.  These become the property of the Regiment, while personal pipe banners are theoretically the property of the officer presenting them, unless the officer has made a point of presenting them to the Regiment.

One published history of pipe banners sums up the practice thusly:

Each regiment has its own rules and customs about when, where and who carries the pipe banners.  They are not consecrated like Colours and have no major significance.  They are simply attractive decorations of considerable heraldic interest.


Regimental Practice

As tradition evolved, it became customary to use the facing colour of the regiment on one side or the other of the pipe banner, with the other side in either a colour selected by the owner, or by the regiment for the sake of uniformity.  The Calgary Highlanders have adopted, with one exception, the use of Government Tartan on the right side of the banner (the piper's right hand side, when playing the instrument) and the use of the different colours on the opposite side.

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The Force Mobile Command banner illustrated above was presented by then-Major General AJG de Chastelain, Deputy Commander of FMC.  As per regimental custom, the right side of the banner is in regimental Government Tartan with the Regimental cap badge embroidered in gold and silver with natural coloured highlights.  The edge of the banner is fringed in gold and three pairs of silk ribbons are provided to tie the banner to the bass drone.   The right side on all regimental pipe banners are of this pattern.

The left side of the banner was done in an appropriate colour, in this case Canadian Forces Green (CF Green or "rifle green" was the colour of uniform adopted upon Unification of the armed forces).  The badge of Force Mobile Command is placed in the centre of the coloured field.

The banner is representative of all banners carried by the Regimental Pipes and Drums after 1990.

The tradition has evolved in the Calgary Highlanders such that the Commanding Officer and all officers with a major appointment are expected to have a pipe banner.  The Commanding Officer's pipe banner is carried by the Pipe Major.  Pipers designated as company pipers may carry the banner of their company commander.

Other pipe banners commemorate associations with perpetuate units, allied regiments, formations, former commanders, and the City of Calgary.

Retired pipe banners are displayed in the Officers' Mess, the office of the Commanding Officer, or in the Regimental Museum.

The banner itself has an obverse (right hand) side which displays the regimental badge on a tartan background.  The reverse (left hand) side displays either the personal coat of arms of an officer, or the badge of an associated unit, formation, retired commander, etc.

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Lieutenant Colonel (retired) H. Vince O'Connor presents his personal pipe banner to piper Patrick Yeates during the lead up to the Queen's Visit in 1990.  Several pipe banners were presented to the Regiment by regimental officers, both serving and retired, in preparation for this visit.  Lieutenant Colonel O'Connor had commanded the Calgary Highlanders in the late 1960s.

The banner is fringed in gold, and secured to the bass drone by three silk ribbons.  The banners are always worn in Full (Ceremonial) Dress and may be worn in other orders of dress as well.

Pipe Banners are kept in a strict order of precedence.  Upon assuming command, the Commanding Officer presents his pipe banner to the Pipe Major; the other pipe banners are assigned to pipers based on this order of precedence and the seniority of each piper.

Early Banners

The first pipe banners were presented to the Calgary Highlanders in the 1920s by the allied regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of the British Army.  As the original banners fell into disuse, three new banners were presented in 1958 by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, JJ Bowlen.   These banners were worn by the pipe band until retirement in the 1990s, and bore the coat of arms of Colonel EL Harvie, Colonel G Stott and Colonel DE Lewis. 

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Colonel Harvie Banner Colonel Lewis Banner Colonel Stott Banner

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Tennant, CM, ED, CD, presented the regiment with the banner shown at right.  The banner was made by hand by Mrs. A.H. Ellison, the mother of Mrs. S. C. Nickel (wife of Colonel Sam Nickel).   Before retirement in 1990, this banner was always carried by the Pipe Major.

The 1980s

In 1982, banners were presented by Major Zieffle, then Deputy Commanding Officer of the Regiment, and Honourary Colonel FP Mannix.   In 1984, Lieutenant Colonel Kempling of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry presented a PPCLI banner to the regiment.  Other banners presented in the early 1980s included the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) banner presented by Lieutenant Colonel PF Hughes, then Commanding Officer of the Calgary Highlanders, and a Force Mobile Command banner.  This banner was presented by General AJG de Chastelain, then commanding FMC.  General de Chastelain began his military career as a piper in the Calgary Highlanders.  This banner is now retired.

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Colonel in Chief's Visit

In 1990, a major effort was undertaken to have pipe banners presented to the regiment in order that the entire band might have them on display during the  Presentation of Queen's Colour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in June of that year.

General AJG de Chastelain, then Chief of the Defence Staff (the highest military appointment in Canada), played on parade with the Regimental Pipes and Drums during the Presentation ceremony.  He wore a standard Calgary Highlanders uniform, embroidered with his badges of rank, and carried his own tri-services pipe banner, representing the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole.  To the regiment, he presented his own personal pipe banner, which was carried by Pipe Major Henderson on parade.

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General de Chastelain

Other presentations during the lead up to the Queen's Visit included banners from Colonel JE Fletcher, Major RJ Goebel, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) HV O'Connor, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Maitland, and Major Warren Spaan.   Colonel Fletcher and Lieutenant Colonel O'Connor had previously commanded the Highlanders, and Majors Goebel and Spaan would both go on to command the Highlanders after Lieutenant Colonel Maitland.

These banners displayed the personal coats of arms of the presenting officers, with the exception of Major Goebel's, which depicted the badge of the Tenth Battalion, CEF.    Major Goebel, upon assuming command of the Calgary Highlanders in 1997, presented a second banner to the regiment with his personal coat of arms.

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Major RJ Goebel, Deputy Commanding Officer, presents his pipe banner to Corporal Bruce McKay.

Other Banners

His Worship Al Duerr, Mayor of The City of Calgary, presented a banner bearing the city's coat of arms to the Regiment in 1992.

Honourary Lieutenant Colonel RR McDaniels, Lieutenant Colonel JL Moffatt, Lieutenant Colonel P Grime, Major R Ansell, Captain M ter Kuile and Major ED Stoyle have all presented their personal banners to the Regimental Pipes and Drums.  In 1994, Major RJ Rooney, CD presented his, as did then-Adjutant Captain TR Copplestone (pictured at right).

Lieutenant Colonel FL Villiger presented his pipe banner to the Regiment while still a Major.

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