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

  • Skidegate had at least two bands, one of which was the Skidegate Concert Band. This band was developed by Haida W.E. Ross in 1907. The band was trained by Arthur Solomon, a former Victoria musician, and went on to great success in band competitions during Mr. Solomon’s tenure. At the same time, Arthur Solomon developed quite a notorious reputation in the Queen Charlotte Islands by reportedly supplying liquor to the First Nations peoples.

    The Skidegate Band had a string of successes at the First Nations band contests in Prince Rupert. From 1911 to 1912 the Skidegate Band won the competition three times in succession. Consquently, the Gray Cup, awarded to the winning band, became the property of the Skidegate Band and is still prominently displayed in the Skidegate longhouse.

    The Skidegate Concert Band, whose members wore uniforms of dark green with gold trimmings, were photographed during the visit of the federal commissioners investigating Indian reserve lands.1 Also photographed was an impromptu marching performance of an unidentified band at Skidegate. Both photographs are found in an album assembled upon the completion of the commission's work in 1916.

    1. The transcript of evidence pertaining to the Queen Charlotte Agency shows that the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission on Indian Affairs visited Skidegate from September 13-15, 1913, and were presented with a grievance by one Henry Green who objected to the Department of Indian Affairs ordering Arthur Solomon not to live on the reserve because he was a drinking man. Solomon, however, was no longer teaching the band according to testimony given by Indian agent Thomas Deasy.
    Skidegate September 14 1915.gif

    BC Archives H-07293

    Skidegate Band, September 14, 1915.

    Skidegate September 14 1915.gif

    BC Archives H-07290

    Skidegate Band preparing for a performance before the Indian Affairs Commission, September 14, 1915.

    Skidegate September 14 1915.gif

    BC Archives H-07290

    Indian Affairs Commission leaving Skidegate

    Members of the Skidegate Band can be seen to the right of the photograph, September 14, 1915.

    Author: Brian Stride (2012)

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    Updated 2012 Feb 24, 23:55 EST/EDT

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