The RCMP Band

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ABOVE: Photo by Jack Allen KBB 1928-34

In 1938 Joe Brown (pictured in photo above) came to Vancouver to recruit musicians for the first official RCMP Band. He left Vancouver with no less than fourteen of Arthur’s boys. Some were old boys but some Arthur was grooming to take on tour to the New York World’s Fair and England the following year in 1939. “Take my boys will you!” he said when he heard. It was a sore point with him for many years. Some of the boys he took were: Clif Bryson, Art Butroid, Jack Allen, Bill Allen, Porky Downs, Walt Mottishaw and Van Dunfee.

While the boys were in Regina on the 1939 trip some of them toured the RCMP Barracks. They were told by the officer in charge that they were quite happy with the new RCMP Band whose nucleus was made up of so many former boys from their band. The boys were good friends with Porky and Walt. When WWII was declared Walt and Porky were afraid they might not see their friends again. The band was in England when war was declared and due to the blackout no one knew where they were. When news came that the SS Athenia (the ship they traveled to England on) had been sunk by a U-boat everyone was afraid that the boys and Mr. D were lost. Walt and Porky were sure glad to hear the voices and see the smiling faces of their old friends in early September when two of them showed up at their barracks in Ottawa.

The next day after playing a concert on the steps of the Houses of Parliament where one of the boys asked Prime Minister McKenzie King to buy a postcard the boys went down to the Legion carnival where the RCMP were playing. Mr. D was there and they ask him to conduct a couple of numbers. It certainly sounded good. It was the opinion of the Kitsie boys that the RCMP bandmaster needed to interpret the music more (learn better the composers intentions). The next day, on Monday, some of Arthur’s former boys in the RCMP came over to talk to him. They all had a great time reminiscing about the old days. That night the boys played at a church service and all the ex-Kits boys went along to hear the latest rendition of the Kits band. They all thought it was a real treat to hear the latest edition of the Kits band. The old boys hung around the train station that night until the boy’s train departed at 2:20 am. Finally they said goodbye and told Arthur they would like him to lead them again. He was very pleased to think they thought a lot of him.

Over the years anytime Arthur passed through Regina or Ottawa the boys always visited the RCMP Barracks and RCMP band members always went to the boy’s concert if they were not busy. In 1950 the boys played Regina on May 17th, their first trip after the war. They were met by the RCMP Band.

The Kits band’s association with the RCMP Band continued. In 1954 after Bill Good (a top notch percussion player) was married he looked into joining the RCMP Band. Bill was not very tall but he was so good they really wanted him. He was told, “a half inch too short.” They offered to stretch him with medical treatment but he wisely declined.

On the 1953 trip Arthur continued to enjoy the historical connection he had with the RCMP Band. Some of his boys played with the RCMP Band in Saskatchewan on that trip.

One of Arthur’s boys who joined the RCMP Band, Clif Bryson was asked to start the first RCMP Dance Band so he did!

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Clif stayed with the RCMP Band for 20 years. In 1958 he was down in Little Rock, Arkansas with the Musical Ride when he got a call from the Parent’s Committee of the West Vancouver Boys & Girls Band. “We need you to come to West Vancouver and take over the band. Delamont quit!” Clif was going to go into the Kentucky Fried Chicken business. He was about to retire so he decided to give it a try part time. It wasn’t long before he took it on full time. He later took over the PNE Band from Dal Richards and also directed the Shriner’s Band. He also had a professional band and he started a band at the Jericho School for the Blind.