History of Brass Bands in BC


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Research Project: History of Brass Bands in British Columbia



Much of the information in this article is summarized from the following publications:

  • Mattison, D. (1981) On the March. Indian Brass Bands, 1866-1915. British Columbia Historical News, Vol. 15, No.1 6-14

  • McIntosh, D. (1989). History of Music in British Columbia 1850 1950.Victoria: Sono Nis Press

  • After the development of the brass band at Metlakatla, interest in instrumental music soon spread to other First Nations villages in the Nass Valley. The second band to take root was at Kincolith, where the band raised $600 in about 1880 to bring Roderick Vokel, who had been conducting the Metlakatla Band, as instructor. Archdeacon William Collison comments:

    " the first Indian brass band on the northwest coast, excited the wonder and admiration of all the tribes around, and on the arrival of visitors of distinction the band generally turned out to serenade them. The Indians are quick to imitate, and the next encampment which procured a band was Kincolith. Here they succeeded in raising over six hundred dollars amongst themselves, with which they procured a complete set of band instruments from San Francisco. They then engaged the lately appointed Indian bandmaster from Metlakatla to instruct them in turn, paying him exactly a sum equal to that paid the German instructor." 1

    From 1910 to 1914 the Kincolith Band was conducted by John Gray of Prince Rupert. According to his daughter, Florence Parker, Gray would travel across the inlet from Prince Rupert to Kincolith once a week to take rehearsals with the band, and he brought the group each year to Prince Rupert for the annual band competitions. The group had to come over on the evening boat, the day before the competition, in order to be present for the opening ceremonies in the morning, and this was a considerable worry to Gray. He knew that most members of the band had friends and relatives living in Prince Rupert, and he feared that the all-night parties which would invariably result would seriously affect the performance of the band on the following morning. To counter any possible distraction from the goal at hand, Gray would schedule a series of long rehearsals for the evening before the contest. "I'll make them practice," he told his daughter in 1912, "until they are too tired to party!"

    1. William Henry Collison, W.H. (1981) In the Wake of the War Canoe. Sono Nis Press, Victoria, British Columbia

    Kincolith October 4 1916

    Kincolith Concert Band, ca. 1916.

    Kincolith October 4 1915

    Kincolith; Chief Klayter, Chief Councillor Robinson and Councillors with Reverend Collison, October 4 1915.

    Note that one of the Councillors is wearing a band uniform.

    Although these photographs have different dates they are probably from the same event.

    Author: Brian Stride (2012)

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    Updated 2012 Feb 24, 23:56 EST/EDT

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