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Featured Artifact – Kilties Souvenir Album

kilties

Belleville Kilties Souvenir Album

 – The Belleville Kilties Band, was established in 1898 as an offshoot of the 48th Highlander Band from Toronto. This souvenir album commemorating their very successful World Tour was sold for a few cents before and after each performance.  

The Kilties were a brass band, composed of 40 members who wore striking kilts and featured a trained choir of 16 voices as well as bag pipers and Scottish dancers.  They operated out of Belleville, Ontario, the home town of their manager T. P. J. Power. The band played local events during the summer and traveled on the Vaudeville circuit in the winter months. 

Between 1904 and 1910 the Belleville Kilties gained world fame. They did two world tours and gave two command performances before King Edward VII.

The Kilties recording of “The Maple Leaf Forever” in 1902 was the first musical recording by an ensemble in Canada.  The recording can be heard on Library and Archives Canada’s Virtual Gramophone by clicking here.

They disbanded in 1911 but there were frequent reunions and they remain an important part of Belleville’s history.

The Regional Collection at Glanmore National Historic Site contains other Kilties related artifacts including one of the uniforms worn during performances.

The Kilties Drum Major stood more than 7 feet tall.

At over 7 feet tall, the Drum Major of the Kilties Band attracted a lot of attention.

Melissa Wakeling has a Bachelor of Arts from Trent University and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Fleming College. Melissa works as Education and Marketing Coordinator at Glanmore National Historic Site in Belleville, Ontario.