Home History Memorials
Contact Links What's New


2000 Memorial


The Piobaireachd Society of Antigonish 


A Piper’s Memorial

 In Honour of  
Two Official Pipers of  
The Antigonish Highland Society:

   Allan Cameron


Angus “The Ridge” MacDonald


2:00 PM, June 3rd, 2000
South River Cemetery  
Antigonish County, NS


and the Annual General Meeting of  
The Piobaireachd Society of Antigonish  
will follow at

The Antigonish Highland Society Office
274 Main Street, Second Floor
Antigonish, NS


All are welcome to attend.




 Dr. John Hamilton, President, Piobaireachd Society of Antigonish
Father Vernon Boutilier, Parish Priest, St. Andrews Parish



L-R  Jocelyn Gillis (Guest Speaker), Ian Juurlink, Isaac Mills, Laura MacLellan, Fr. Vernon Boutilier (Parish Priest), Dr. John Hamilton (President, Piobaireachd Society of Antigonish), Mary Ellen Baldner
at the grave of Alexander "The Ridge" MacDonald

Recognition of Official Pipers

 Angus “The Ridge” MacDonald and Allan Cameron

by Jocelyn Gillis, Curator, Antigonish Heritage Museum


Grounds and First Variations will be played by

Isaac Mills, Somers Road
“Clan Chattan’s Gathering”

Daniel Cameron, North Grant
“Hector MacLean’s Warning”

Fred Tarasoff, East Earltown
“Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon”

Morgan Peters, Clydesdale
“Tulloch Ard”

Jamus MacDonald, Pinevale
“Tulloch Ard”

Laura MacLellan, Antigonish
“The Battle of the Strome”

Complete piobaireachds will be played by

Mary Ellen Baldner, Antigonish
“The Groat”

Ian Juurlink, St. Andrews
“Hector MacLean’s Warning”

Andrea Boyd, Antigonish
“Too Long In This Condition”



Copies of  The Kilberry Book of Ceòl Mór

Presented to the performers from Antigonish Town and County
by John Hamilton, Janis MacLellan-Peters, and Scott Williams

and a Gift Certificate

presented to Maureen Williams, by Janis MacLellan-Peters


Closing Remarks

(Reception to follow at Antigonish Highland Society Office)

Angus “The Ridge” MacDonald

                Angus MacDonald was born about 1865 at Upper South River, Antigonish County. He was the son of Alexander MacDonald, and grandson of Allan MacDonald, the famous Gaelic poet. Like his father and grandfather, Angus was a singer and a composer of Gaelic songs. While working in Dorchester, New Brunswick, he studied piping under the guidance of Pipe Major MacKenzie Baillie, of Pictou County who was also stationed there at that time.

                The Minutes of the Antigonish Highland Society record that Angus played at the annual St. Andrews Night Banquet in 1925 and for a number of years thereafter. He was the piping judge at the Antigonish Highland Games in 1927. Angus was named “Official Piper” in 1934, and was listed as such in the Minutes again in 1936, but it is quite possible that he was given this title prior to the mention of it in the 1934 Minutes.

                Angus was filmed by Judith Crawley in 1943 as he played and marched in front of his home. He was also recorded singing, piping, and playing the violin at a house ceilidh at the home of Peter MacIntosh at Loch Katrine. Some of Angus’ songs were collected and published by Helen Creighton of Nova Scotia and by John Lorne Campbell of the Isle of Canna, Scotland.

                Angus died on October 27th, 1951, at the age of 86.


Allan Joseph Cameron

                Allan was born in Springfield, Antigonish County on December 7th, 1903 to John A. and Elizabeth (Sullivan) Cameron. He and his younger brother Hugh were both fascinated by the bagpipes, and learned pretty well by ear as youngsters. Though Allan had no formal lessons, he received some help from Duncan “Big Colin” Chisholm of Marydale, and for several summers went to live with his father’s first cousin, piper Dougald Gillis, of Pleasant Valley, where he received tuition in return for working on the farm.

                Allan appeared for the first time in the records of the Antigonish Highland Games in 1922 when he placed first in Junior Piping. He would continue to compete and win prizes right through to the 1960s. In 1937, he was admitted as a member of the Antigonish Highland Society and that November he was named the Society’s Official Piper, an office he would hold for most of the rest of his life.  He played annually at the St. Andrews Night Banquets for more than fifty years.

                Allan was a member of the very first pipe band in Antigonish, led by Pipe Major Herman Beaton, in 1946. In 1950, the Antigonish Highland Society presented Allan with a set of silver and ivory mounted Henderson pipes. He played at the Opening of the Canso Causeway in 1955, at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in 1963, and in Wilmington, Ohio in 1964. He played for the Highland dancing competitions for over fifty years, in Antigonish and across the Maritime Provinces.

                Allan played publicly for the last time at the age of 91 on Canada Day, 1995. He died in 1996 at the age of 93.


Stories about the tunes being played today:


The Battle of the Strome

            At the end of the 16th century there was violent warfare between Macdonells of Glengarry and the Mackenzies of Kintail. This culminated, in 1602, in a great attack by the former, who still held Castle Strome, on the Mackenzie at Glensheil. Kenneth MacKenzie of Kintail visited his brother-in-law, Hector MacLean of Duart to seek his help, and during his absence Angus Og of Glengarry made a raid on Lochcarron. Angus Og lost his life in the ship battle on Lochcarron, and was buried in the same tomb as the MacKenzie family, with all the due ceremony for a gentleman of his rank. A subsequent attempt to ambush Mackenzie in the same place failed when Lady MacKenzie sent him a timely word of warning.

                The following spring, MacKenzie besieged Castle Strome. For weeks the siege went on, and there seemed to be little hope that the garrison would ever surrender. Donald MacRae, who had been captured by the MacDonells during their earlier raid on Glenshiel, was a prisoner in the castle, and when he realized that the Kintail men were preparing to abandon the siege, he persuaded some captive Matheson women, who did all the work in the castle, to pour water on the supplies of gunpowder stored in barrels. When Glengarry’s men discovered this, there was a great commotion and the maids were accused of treachery.

                During the uproar, Donald MacRae managed to escape by jumping from the battlements onto a dung heap which broke his fall. He was able to reach MacKenzie and tell him that the castle had no serviceable gunpowder. The Mackenzie renewed their attack, took the castle, and blew it up.

                With the destruction of Strome Castle, the power of the MacDonells in that area came to an end. MacKenzie later received a charter from the Crown for the lands of Lochalsh and Lochcarron which had formerly belonged to Glengarry. (It was as a reprisal that the Glengarry Macdonalds later burned the church of Kilchrist, the MacKenzie congregation reputedly being inside.)


Clan Chattan’s Gathering

            A number of clans in the north of Scotland formed a confederation in 1609. With the exception of the MacLeans of Dochgarroch, the component septs were all clearly descended from the same tribal stock. That being so, all the septs wore the same badge, and had the same war-cry - Loch Moy - a loch near the seat of the Chief at Moy Hall. The name Catan or Gille Chatain means the servant of St. Catan, which denotes little cat, and the crest, motto, and armorial bearings of the clan bear out that this was understood to be the meaning of the name.


The Groat

            This tune is also known as An Groata Misgeach - The Drunken Groat.

Donald MacDonald believed that it was composed on the christening of Ruairidh Mór MacLeod of Dunvegan and Harris, one of the greatest Highland chiefs of all time. In those days, the christening would not be long after the birth, which occurred in 1562.

                The tune has often been attributed to Donald Mór MacCrimmon, but Ruairidh Mór would have been eight years old before Donald Mór was even born. The MacCrimmons, however, had long been established as MacLeod’s pipers, so it is very likely that one of them composed the tune. Alex Haddow suggests that it is more likely that the composer was the rather shadowy Iain Odhar, born about 1500, about whom very little is known. Iain Odhar was the first hereditary piper to the MacLeods. His son, Patrick Donn, born about 1530, and second hereditary piper, is also a possible candidate for composer.

                It has also been suggested that the tune was actually composed for Ruairidh Mór’s elder brother, William (13th chief), in 1560, but this makes it even more unlikely that Donald Mór was the composer.


Hector MacLean’s Warning

                Hector MacLean was the son of Allan of the Firebrand, who had lead the life of a desperate and depraved freebooter. Among his many crimes, he plundered the lands of Lochbuie in 1525 and later murdered his kinsman, MacLean of Lohire about 1540. Allan died in his bed in 1551. Hector was his elder son, and succeeded his father to the lands of Kintyre and Islay. Chief for only about five years, Hector lived a life of ease, pleasure and bounty, and squandered much of the fortune he had inherited.

                When Lauchlin, eldest son of the Chief of the MacLean’s of Duart, reached maturity in 1576, Hector tried to have him excluded from the succession. When this failed, he tried to have the young man murdered. Lauchlin found out, captured Hector, and put him in irons in Duart Castle. Hector was taken to Coll in 1578 and was executed without trial.


Lament for Donald Ban MacCrimmon

            In the 1745 Jacobite Rising, the MacLeods of Dunvegan and Harris supported the Hanoverian cause. In February, 1746, Norman, the 19th Chief, was at Inverness with Loudon’s forces, which numbered about 2000. Prince Charles arrived at Moy Hall where he was entertained by Lady Anne MacIntosh. Loudon determined to capture the prince but his plans were overheard and a warning was sent. Prince Charles left the house and made his escape.

                In the meantime, Lady MacIntosh determined to make a stand to hold off Loudon’s forces, thus allowing the Prince more time to make his escape. She sent her blacksmith, Donald Fraser, and five men to watch the crossing of the River Nairn at the Bridge of Faillie. About midnight, Loudon’s troops approached the bridge. Fraser and his men fell back to a pass near Creag an Eoin where they took up positions behind peat stacks along a front of about a quarter of a mile. When the advanced guard of Loudon’s men reached the pass, the defenders opened fire from several vantage points. They also yelled orders to other non-existing groups - the Macintoshes, the MacGillivrays and the MacBeans to form at the centre, the MacDonalds to take the right and the Frasers to take the left - urging them to surround the approaching enemy and cut off their retreat.

                Loudon’s men believed that they were being attacked by a much larger force, and turned back, running for their lives, carrying the rest of the more than 1500 men with them. Fraser and his five men were now firing at ramdom and Donald Ban MacCrimmon, who had been beside his Chief, fell, mortally wounded.

                MacCrimmon, it seemed, had predicted his own end when he left Skye, with his now famous piobaireachd, “MacCrimmon Returns No More”. Donald Ban was the only casualty of this battle, and from his death arose one of the greatest piobaireachds of all time, “Lament For Donald Ban MacCrimmon”.


Too Long In This Condition

            This tune may belong to the period when Donald Mór MacCrimmon fled to Sutherland from the MacKenzies, having burned a Kintail village in revenge for the murder of his younger brother, Patrick. There are various stories about this piobaireachd and it has been dated, by some, to the Battle of Worcester, 1651. It has been attributed variously to Donald Mór, Padruig Mór, and Padruig Og.

                The best known tale, however, is of Donald Mór sitting unrecognized near the door at a MacKay wedding and singing a little Gaelic rhyme which may be translated roughly as:


  Too long like this, too long like this,

Too long like this Am I.

Too long like this, without a bite or sup

At the Wedding of MacKay.


                This song may well have been the original version of this tune. It is known that Donald Mór was in Sutherland in 1612. This was important for subsequent developments in piping as it was during his exile in Sutherland that Donald Mór met and taught the MacKays who would later become the famous piping family of Gairloch.


Tulloch Ard

            Tulloch Ard is the name given to a high hilloch where a beacon fire would be lit to warn of impending danger, and there burned while the fiery cross was sent through every strath and glen to rouse the inhabitants. A drawing of the hill with its flame forms part of the crest of the MacKenzie’s of Seaforth. It is often mistaken for a volcanic mountain, being heraldically termed a mountain inflamed. It is accompanied by the motto Luceo non uro, I enlighten, I do not burn. The tune is also known as The MacKenzie’s March.




Celtic Knot Web Design