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Toronto Branch 2021-2022 Knock-out ready for entries!

Thursday September 30th, 2021

The Toronto Knockout is back with the same proctored video format as last year. Depending on how the world goes, the branch may switch to live meetings at some point; if so, they will take place on the video submission dates.

The PPBSO Toronto Branch VIRTUAL KNOCKOUT aims to capture the tense excitement of having only one chance to get it right, and then streaming from one server, without worry about the Internet connectivity of the competitor’s location. Last year’s competitors and judges all spoke positively of how “close to live competition” the experience was.

The Knockout is open to drummers or pipers who are current members of the PPBSO or its affiliated organizations around the world.

Ian K MacDonald, last season’s winner of the professional piping section of the knockout contest
  • Competitors will record their competition piece in an MP4 video file with a Toronto Branch Proctor watching via Internet. As at a regular competition, there will be only one take. This will be done at an agreed-upon time in the few days before the closing date for the event. Where the competitor is required to submit multiple tunes, the judge will predetermine the tunes to be played and the proctor will inform you what tune is being played.
  • Proper Highland Dress is required – see the PPBSO Rule Book, Appendix 1 for a definition if you are new to competition.
  • Drummers may play their selections to recorded piping or to a live piper.
  • The competitor will immediately upload the MP4 file to a dedicated Drive.
  • The order of play will be generated and the videos will be connected in that order for judging.
  • The judge will watch and complete the score sheets.
  • Family, friends, and other enthusiasts may purchase a pass to watch one or all of the events in the VIRTUAL KNOCKOUT 2021 series to be streamed on specified dates (competitors are entitled to watch the livestream as part of their competition entry fee).
  • Remember, the branch relies on the entry fees for all competitions to support the ongoing branch events and new workshop events.
  • As always, we will attempt to provide you with excellent recitalists to round out your VIRTUAL KNOCKOUT 2021-2022 experience.

Round 1 Information:
Enter by October 10th 2021 11:59PM
Submit by October 16th 2021 11:59PM
Streamed on October 23rd 2021 TBD

Visit the Toronto Branch’s website for more detail, including information on how to enter!

The latest news from “The Sherriff”

Tuesday September 21st, 2021

It’s a ‘green light’ for the George Sherriff Memorial Invitational competition. With the ongoing concerns and restrictions surrounding Covid-19, the decision has been made to run the 2021 competition virtually. This will be the 25th year for the competition. 

The selection of the ten players for this year’s competition was based on 2021 results for Grade 1 amateur pipers from the different jurisdictions throughout Canada and the United States. For the most part, these were virtual contests. In the case of several associations there were Champion Supreme results that helped determine the best all round piobaireachd and light music players. 

Each player will be playing in three events: 6/8 Marches, Piobaireachd, and March, Strathspey & Reel. Their tunes will be submitted by October 18, with the players notified of their selected tunes on October 22. Their recordings will be submitted by October 29. The results from each event and the overall winner will be announced live on Facebook on the evening of November 20. This would have been the date of the traditional in person contest. 

Here are this year’s 10 performers:

Jessica Bain – Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Callum Bevan – Abbotsford, British Columbia

Sean Buchta – Tampa, Florida

Zippa Curiskis – St. Paul, Minnesota

Trevor DeMass – Murray, Utah

Mark McClennan – Guelph, Ontario

Stuart Marshall – Greensboro, North Carolina

Charles-David Mitchell – Kingston, Ontario

Andrew Prioli – Cranston, Rhode Island

Caleb Thibodeau – Toronto, Ontario

The adjudicators for this year’s competition:

Chris Armstrong and Richard Parkes, MBE (6/8 Marches and March, Strathspey & Reel)

Bruce Gandy and John Wilson (Piobaireachd)

The George Sherriff Invitational website will be updated shortly. In the meantime, we are absolutely honoured that McCallum Bagpipes will once again be donating an engraved set of MacRae bagpipes to be presented to the overall 2021 Sherriff Champion. And, this year The Piobaireachd Society is donating a silver Piobaireachd Society kilt pin to the winner of the piobaireachd event. Amazing prizes! R.G. Hardie, Reelpipes.com, Scotts Highland Services, Lee and Sons, plus several others have stepped forward to offer some amazing prizes for this year’s event. The list keeps expanding and will be updated on the website.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Bob Worrall, Director, The George Sherriff Memorial Invitational Amateur Solo Piping Competition

Update to PPBSO members (a little good news)

Monday September 20th, 2021

We’ve had a great summer. Our online season of “games”, with almost 1800 competitive performances, was a real success. Many of our members, too, enjoyed our “Up Yer Game” 9-part seminar series. And for those who were able, revelled in a shimmering bright Cobourg Highland Games. The day was perfect and, I think, a tonic for anyone who was lucky enough to attend the park on the shores of Lake Ontario. Just to play outside, I think, felt like winning. And, so, Cobourg was a glorious season-capper. Again, a special thanks to games president, George Cackette and his team of driven optimists. 

We’re now shifting to another season: all the many PPBSO activities that we enjoy in the non-summer months. A reminder to take note of your local branch’s Annual General Meeting. They’ll be coming up in the days and weeks ahead and you’ll likely want to turn up and contribute as you can. To show-up is a solid mark of support, to my mind. And now, especially, support of any kind – to organizations and people – is a welcome and much-valued thing.

On that brief summary I am very happy to announce that the PPBSO has been approved for a grant from the Government of Ontario’s Trillium Foundation in the Community Building – Operating Stream category in the amount of $49,100. This grant category is a new one and was developed to “support community arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation organizations, that are experiencing significant financial pressures due to the pandemic.” Having lost two outdoor seasons and, as a result, over 40% of paid annual memberships, the PPBSO is beyond grateful for the Government of Ontario’s Trillium Foundation grant. 

The grant will allow us to sustain our financial viability while upgrading office technology (e.g. laptop, printers, filing space) update our online presence, support the development of our history and archives initiative and, well, just give us breathing space that will allow us to dig in our brogues and continue to find ways to work developing piping and drumming in Ontario. 

A preliminary announcement to advise that the PPBSO will be holding another AGM this year. Our last was January 30, 2021. Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 4, 2021 – 1:00 pm. The meeting will again be entirely online. You can expect more information closer to the date.

See you then, if not before.

Michael Grey,
The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario

Silver Anniversary! The George Sherriff Memorial Invitational

Saturday September 18th, 2021

After having to cancel last year’s event, the 25th George Sherriff Memorial Invitational is all systems go for 2021.

Due to the ongoing concerns surrounding Covid-19, this year’s event will be a virtual contest. The top 10 North American Grade 1 amateur pipers will be submitting recordings and the results from the 6/8 March, Piobaireachd, and march, strathspey and reel events will be announced live on Facebook on Saturday, November 20. At that point we will be able to announce the overall Champion for 2021.

George Sherriff Memorial Invitational medal

At this point we’re waiting for confirmation from the 10 invitees. Once we’ve finalized the players and secured the adjudicators for this year’s event an official announcement will be made. Stay tuned for much more information.

Bob Worrall, Director, The George Sherriff Memorial Invitational competition

Cobourg Games: Info for attendees

Wednesday September 8th, 2021

As of today the weather forecast for Cobourg Highland Games this coming Saturday, September 11, is perfect!

By now all those bands participating in the games should have received passes for entry. Additionally, all participating solo competitors who are not competing with a pipe band should have received their games pass. If you are a member of a pipe band and have not received your pass please contact your Pipe Major or band manager. If any competing band (or soloist not competing in a band) has not received their passes please contact our PPBSO, Administrator.

Cobourg Highland Games: First full-on games in Canada since 2019!

Please note that refunds for admission will not be available to band or solo competitors who pay cash at the gate (i.e. those who might forget or misplace their pass). The PPBSO pass issued in advance to competitors is required.

Covid-19 “track and trace” protocol: On presentation of their PPBSO pass at the gate participants will be asked if they are competing in a band or as a soloist. If competing in a band simply provide the name of your band. No further information should be required. If competing as a soloist alone (i.e. not competing in a band in the afternoon) your name and contact phone number must be provided (as is currently the norm with restaurants, etc.).

Order of play and contest start times can be found here. A reminder a representative from each competing band is required to be present at the 11:00 am band meeting at the PPBSO tent. Note that the Open Piobaireachd event will be showcased in the Band Shell.

The opening ceremony will begin at 11:45 am. It will last no more than 30 minutes. Bands will enter the field in three groups or “waves”. Spacing of playing members of each band should be two metres apart. Once all bands are on the field there will be no counter-march. Massed bands will play standing in place and depart the field in their cohort group. The final massed bands of the day will follow the same protocol.

The Peel Regional Police Pipe Band (G2) is this year’s Duty Band.

A reminder that all games attendees should have a face mask ready to wear as required. For example, when queuing for beer tent tickets a mask is required. The mask is not required once seated in the beer tent.

Cobourg Highland Games has provided a “Frequently Asked Questions” page off their website.

Saturday is shaping up to be a great and historic day! The first full-on competitive Highland Games in Canada since 2019! See you there!

Cobourg Games Go-ahead Officially Approved. History to be made.

Monday August 16th, 2021

Cobourg Highland Games are good to go!

The Town of Cobourg’s contest, the only outdoor Highland Games in Canada in 2021 to offer competitive piping and drumming events, has been approved to proceed by the Town, their local health authority and all other required organizations, including the police.

Cobourg games’ organizing committee has been working hard to prepare for the big day, Saturday, September 11, 2021, including fund-raising through their popular “pop-up patio” initiative. The games is presented in one of Ontario’s most picturesque games venues, beautiful Victoria Park on the sandy shores of Lake Ontario.

Victoria Park entrance, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario has worked closely with the Cobourg Highland Games committee to ensure a complete roster of competitive piping and drumming events is presented.

Entries are open now to all bands and solo competitors interested in taking part in what will undoubtedly be a historic – and fun – event!

While competing pipers and drummers gain admission with their PPBSO entry all spectators and supporters can take advantage of an “early bird” advance ticket purchase discount of $5 off the regular admission price. Visit the games’ page for access to this deal.

Soloists who are members of The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario can enter the usual online way. Anyone interested can also print out the entry form – available here – and send along to us

The entry form for bands can be found here. A reminder that forms of all kinds related to PPBSO transactions can be found under the “Forms” tab off our main web page.

Outdoor Highland Games were rekindled in Scotland this past Saturday with the Grampian Highland Gathering. Prince Charles was among the many in attendance. You can read more here.

See you at Cobourg!

Entries Open for Cobourg Games (by the lake!)

Tuesday July 27th, 2021

Piping, drumming and pipe band competitors can now enter for the September 11, 2021 Cobourg Highland Games!

Soloists who are members of The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario can enter the usual online way. Anyone interested can also print out the entry form – available here – and send along to us.

The entry form for bands can be found here. A reminder that forms of all kinds related to PPBSO transactions can be found under the “Forms” tab off our main web page.

Cobourg Highland Games fund-raising: “pop-up patios”

Cobourg Highland Games committee volunteers are working hard to ensure the games take place on Saturday, September 11, 2021. The games are staged at an especially picturesque location, in Victoria Park on the shores of Lake Ontario. The games’ team of volunteers are doing their very best to ensure funding support is in place for the event and this past week have presented Scots-themed “pop-up-patios” on the lakefront, an initiative that has received a lot of mainstream media attention. Find out more here.

Don’t delay and sign-up for Cobourg Highland Games; an historic chance to take part in the only Highland Games in Canada east of the Rockies!

And while you’re at it be sure to sign up for the free and super-excellent Saturday, July 31 “Up Yer Game” sessions! Master piper and PPBSO Music Committee Chair, Jim McGillivray starts at 10:30 am (EDT) and current and 10-time World Solo Drumming Champion, Steven McWhirter is on at 1:00 PM (EDT). Free to members and open to all!

Keep on!

Mark your calendar: Cobourg Games, September 11 (this year!)

Saturday July 10th, 2021

The Pipers’ & Pipe Band Society of Ontario is pleased to announce in conjuction with the Cobourg Highland Games Committee that the 2021 games will proceed on Saturday, September 11, 2021.

A full slate of solo and band events will be presented. Entry will be incorporated to the online registration facility and entry form on www.ppbso.org early next week (week of July 12).

One piper about to enter to play at the 2021 Cobourg Highland Games

Pipe band playing requirements are as follows:

  • Grade 1 – submit one March, Strathspey & Reel
  • Grade 2 – submit one March, Strathspey & Reel
  • Grade 3 – submit one March, Strathspey & Reel
  • Grade 4 – submit one march medley, quick time, 2’45” – 4’30”
  • Grade 5 – submit one march medley, quick time, 2’45” – 4’30”

In order to provide a forum for bands looking to perform a medley a special “Open Medley” event will be presented. Open to bands in grades 4 through 1, the contest will require bands to play a medley of their own choice of 4 to 8 minutes duration. Bands will be encouraged to consider “concert formation” for this event.

“We really need to tip our hat to the Cobourg Games committee, led by their president, George Cackette,” said Michael Grey, PPBSO President, “Cobourg will be the only outdoor games in Canada in 2021 east of the Rocky Mountains and it’s all down to Cobourg’s dogged optimism. Anyone participating will be taking part in something historic – I can’t wait!”

It must be noted that the presentation of the games will be contingent on provincial laws and local public health directives.

Test negative but think positive!

PPBSO Branches

PPBSO Office

President: Michael Grey
Vice President:Chris Dodson
Secretary: Michele Curtis
Treasurer: John Allen


Administrator: Sharon Duthart
Chief Steward: Glenn Covert
Ombudsman: Ken Eller