Donald Galbraith with child, possibly his son, James.

After our two posts last week seeking information on Ayrshire piper, Donald Galbraith, we have been contacted by a descendent of his in Canada.

Readers will recall Scotland’s East Ayrshire Council is seeking information on Donald and of a tune he composed which they hope could be played at the forthcoming re-opening of Dean Castle in Kilmarnock. Donald Galbraith piped at a previous re-opening event there in 1910.

Jim Galbraith of Ontario tells us he is a great grandson of Donald and that Donald also has a connection to Argyll. He writes: “A long time ago, my grandfather, James Galbraith mentioned that Donald had played with the Campbeltown Pipe Band, the Argyll and Bute Artillery, and taught Boys’ Brigade pipe bands. Donald Galbraith was born in Saddell, Argyll on May 28, 1862 so he would have been close to the age mentioned in [your] article. 

“Donald and family including my grandfather, James Galbraith (also a piper) moved to 3 Douglas St., Kilmarnock in 1907, then emigrated to Ontario in 1912.

Donald pictured in 1940.

“In Ontario, both Donald and James played with the Ingersoll Pipe Band in the late 1930s and early ’40s. Ingersoll is half way between Toronto and Windsor, Ontario (across the river from Detroit)

“Donald is interred in Victoria Lawn Cemetery, St. Catharines, Ontario (less than a quarter mile from Dunbar Bagpipes).”

Jim goes on to say that he is in possession of Donald’s pipes and that they’re still played, mostly at family events, the most recent being the funeral of Mary Murat (Donald’s grand-daughter) in August of 2020. The pipes, in fact, were refurbished by Rick Pettigrew of Dunbar Bagpipes in 2005. Jim asks us to pass the photos of the pipes on to historian Jeannie Campbell and we have done so.

However, Jim says he does not know anything about Donald composition, Lord Howard de Walden’s Welcome to Dean Castle.

This photograph was taken around 1907. Donald Galbraith is on the far left. However, the name of the band in uncertain. It may be the Campbeltown Pipe Band or the Argyll and Bute Artillery. The photo was taken in Kilmarnock. Perhaps readers could clarify?

It seems that Donald settled into a great life in Ontario. Jim sent us this newspaper clipping which details Donald and wife, Catharine’s 50th wedding anniversary in June 1936. The text runs:

Golden Anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. D. Galbraith – Popular Straffordville Residents, Formerly of Scotland, Honored; Ingersoll Pipe Band Joins in Tribute to Brother Piper who once played for Royalty Straffordville, June 16 – One of the happiest events of the season was held in the basement of the Straffordville church on Thursday, June 11, when over eighty relatives and dear friends of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Galbraith were entertained at dinner in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. The guests gathered at the home of the bride, and groom and at one o’clock marched to the church to the skirl of the bagpipes played by Piper Jack Little of Ingersoll.

“The church basement was a picturesque scene for the event with three large tables set in the shape of a horse shoe, in the centre of which was the bride’s table, centred with a large beautifully decorated wedding cake and carrying I out the color scheme of white and gold in honor of the occasion. Tall yellow roses and tapering yellow candles in lovely brass candle sticks graced the tables while large ferns, peonies, snapdragons, irises and yellow day lilies together with orange blossoms in large silver cup placed on low pedestal were arranged throughout the room.

“Mr. and Mr. Galbraith are natives of “Bonnie Scotland.” Mr. Galbraith was born on May 28, 1862, in the village of Saddell, Kintyre, Argylshire.

“Mrs. Galbraith, formerly Catharine McLarty, was born on May 7, 1862, in the town of Campbeltown, Argylshire. Their union in marriage took place in Campbeltown on June 11, 1886 by Reverend Thompson. They resided in Campbeltown and Kilmarnock before coming to Canada in 191 when they settled in Brantford.

“There, they remained some years, Mr. Galbraith being engaged in his life work, a gardener, and was a well known figure on the bowling greens of that city. Later they went to St. Catharines district where they were engaged in farming until four years ago when Mr. Galbraith was forced to retire from farm work owing to ill health and came to reside in the village of Straffordville, where he has a married son and a married daughter residing.

“Of this happy union, three children survive as follows: Neil Galbraith of St. Catharines, Janet Galbraith and Mr. William Partington of Straffordville , and several grandchildren, Mary Galbraith of St. Catharines, Jean, Elsie, Donald, Douglas and Mary Galbraith and Donald Partington of Straffordville.

“Toasts and presentations during the course of the dinner were made by Neil Galbraith on behalf of family and he welcomed the guests and called upon Rev. A. R. Ferguson of Simcoe to propose the toast to the bride which was responded to by the groom. Rev. G. S. Hammond, of Straffordville, was then called to propose the toast to the groom and family which was responded to by James (Jalbraith, who in his reply pointed out that present in the company were two people wno were present at that happy event of 50 years ago, they being the bride’s sister, Mrs. Janet McSporran, now of St. Catharines, and Mrs. Agnes McArthur, a niece now of St. Catharines.

“Jack McSporran, a nephew of the bride, an behalf of his mother (the bride’s sister) and her family presented the happy couple with a purse of money.

“Seated also at the bride’s table were another Scottish couple, Mr. and Mrs. George Barnie, of Brantford, the father-in-law and mother-in-law of James Galbraith. who had celebrated their golden wedding’ on August 24, 1034. It was rather! A unique feature that the grandchildren have had the privilege of attending an event where the grandparents on both sides of the family have reached the mark fifty years of married life.

James and Donald in c1930.

Played for Royalty
“During the afternoon a happy time was spent chatting over old times together until supper was served at six o’clock. Then early in the evening the big surprise of the day came to the happy pair when the skirl of the bagpipes and the beat of the drums was heard in the distance. On investigating they found that the Ingersoll Pipe Band, 12 in number and decked in their full regalia, were marching down the street to the church playing Highland Laddie and coming to serenade and pay honor to a brother piper whom they had through former friendship learned to esteem. Pipe Major Donald Galbraith, who in his days in the old land had played for royalty and was considered one of Scotland’s best at playing the national musical instrument.

“As the band reached the church, the bride and groom joyously greeted them and then at the head of the band led them, with their guests and town friends who had gathered falling in, through the streets to the town hall where they enjoyed a real old fashioned dance. Mr. McArthur, one of the pipers, delighted everyone in dancing perfectly the “highland fling” and the “sword dance.” This was a gala finish to a wonderful day, which finally concluded with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne,” and everyone wishing the bride and groom of fifty years many more ‘ happy years together.

“Guests were present from Buffalo, N.Y.; Rochester, N.Y.; St. Catharines, Fonthill, St. John’s, Niagara Falls, Brantford, Simcoe, Ingersoll and Tilsonburg.”

We have passed this information to East Ayrshire Council. If any of this information jogs a memory in Bagpipe.News readers please contact us in the usual way. We agree with East Ayrshire Council that it would be quite something to have Donald’s tune played again at Dean Castle when it re-opens.

Donald Galbraith’s beautiful set of either Henderson or R. G. Lawrie pipes now in the possession of his grandson, Jim.
Ingersoll Pipe Band, 1940. Donald is in a jacket and tie in the top left of the photo and James is third up on the right. James played in the band from 1938-1943 but Donald, who would have been 78 when this photo was taken, was no longer playing.