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The MacKenzie Highlanders
Pipe & Drum Band

2023 MACKENZIE HIGHLANDERS OFFICIAL.jpg

THE MacKENZIE HIGHLANDERS’ PIPE AND DRUM BAND has roots dating back to 1913 when it was originally known as the Shredded Wheat Pipe Band, proudly sponsored by the Shredded Wheat Company in Niagara Falls, New York. In 1948, it received support from the British American Legion and evolved into the LaSalle Legion Post 1142 Pipe Band.  In the early 1970s, Pipe Major Dennis Nation (1921-2002), a former band member, commenced teaching bagpipes from his home in Niagara Falls. As this initiative gained momentum, another former band member, Red Lawson, began teaching drumming. This was a pivotal moment that ignited the idea of resurrecting the band as a formal organization.

 

The band found a sponsor in the MacKenzie Club of Niagara Falls, New York, a local social club primarily of Scottish and British immigrants and their families. This partnership resulted in the band adopting the name “MacKenzie” and wearing the MacKenzie tartan as its uniform. The band practiced at the club and performed at its various functions and events.  In the mid-1970s, the MacKenzie Pipe Band established a significant connection with the Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Company, participating in numerous firemen’s parades and field days. The band relocated its practices to Lewiston, New York, and experienced substantial growth in its membership during this association. During this time, the band had the honor of performing at prestigious events such as the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Ontario, and participating in the Toronto Warriors Day Parade, along with engagements throughout western New York.

 

In the 1990s, the band members made the decision to become an independent organization, no longer reliant on official sponsorship. The MacKenzie Pipe Band returned to its roots in Niagara Falls, New York, and expanded its teaching program for bagpipes and Scottish drumming. The band’s remarkable journey continued as it performed alongside the renowned Irish Celtic group, the Chieftains, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 2014. The band also became a staple at events held at Old Fort Niagara and hosted the well-received Robert Burns’ Dinner and Ceilidh every January. 

 

Over the years, the MacKenzie Pipe Band underwent several transformations and sponsorships. Today, as the MacKenzie Highlanders’ Pipe and Drum band, they have become a familiar attraction throughout Western New York, participating in festivals, concerts, and parades. The band is now thriving with a growing membership and a robust teaching program for both young and adult enthusiasts of bagpipes and Scottish drumming. Furthermore, the band regularly awards scholarships to local high school seniors actively involved in pipe bands and other Scottish and Celtic arts organizations.

 

With an impressive history and significant contributions to the diverse musical heritage of the region, we are thrilled to welcome The MacKenzie Highlanders’ Pipe and Drum band into the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame.

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