Kalamazoo Pipe Band History Page

Earliest Known Reference:

As a child in 1945 and for about 10 years afterward, a local gent, who works for an internment company, remembers regularly seeing about 20 pipers and drummers in parades in and near Kalamazoo.  One of the pipers was his neighbor - a Mrs. Teal or Thiel.  She lived near the corner of Hazard and East Main.  Her daughter married a famous baseball player named Lynn Squire who won several golden glove awards.  The band was still going into the mid/late 1950s and was made up of about half women and half men.

If you know of ANY information, photos or remembrances of this group or anyone in it,
PLEASE let me know!

Our Founder:

The current band began in 1964 around the piping and teaching abilities of Dr. John Beaton, a Ph.D. Chemist who had emigrated from Scotland in 1956 to Kalamazoo, Michigan to work for the Upjohn company.

Dr. Beaton had grown up piping with the Boy Scouts in Scotland and spent some time with a band sponsored by Anchor Mill (now Coats & Clark). He crowned his piping career by playing with the legendary Red Hackle Pipe Band in the early 1950's.


The Chanter Classes:

John found an willing and interested group of learners in Kalamazoo and worked with them to instill the solid fundamentals of piping. After meeting in the Beaton's basement for two years the group needed a better place in which to practice and teach. An association was formed with the Portage Adult Community Education Center in 1966 which has lasted continuously for over 30 years. The idea of a pipe band was very well received in Kalamazoo and some of the early progress was published in the Portage Herald (now defunct) and the Kalamazoo Gazette. Here's a photo of the original group of learners.

To this day, classes are held at the same place - in the Portage Northern Middle School band room. Click here for more information on classes.

Pipes Ready, Pipes UP!

After learning the fundamentals of piping, the group invested in pipes and, later, in kilts and drums.

A Gazette article says the group was known as "The Kalamazoo International Pipers". (If anyone knows where the tenor drums went, please let me know. These photos are from the (now defunct) Portage Herald and the Kalamazoo Gazette.)

The group was involved in parades and Scottish festivals through the mid-1970's. Here are a couple pictures of the band competing at the Alma Highland Festival. (Another drum that I've never seen! )

About this time the drum corps found greater interest in other activities (e.g., cars, romance, careers), left the band and replacements could not be found. The band continued in its teaching role and the pipers still met to play tunes and stay active.

If you have more photos, stories or mementos I'd love to chat with you. Please contact me.

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