Grey Highlands, Ontario

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georgian explorerThe Georgian Bay Explorer - Markdale Citizen Band

Brass bands were once a must for each and every village and town in Grey and Bruce counties. Called out to parades, celebrations, openings and dedications, bandsmen - and the bands were definitely all male in the 19th century - would tootle away to the delight of their friends, neighbours, and fellow townspeople.

Markdale once had such a band. Known as the Markdale Citizens' Band, it was considered a major asset to the village. The band was formed sometime at the turn of the 20th century under the direction of W. S. Perkins. Perkins, a hardware merchant, received the grand sum of $275.00 a year for his services and, according to contemporary reports, he more than earned his stipend.

The band, some eighteen strong, was distinctive in their uniforms of coat, cap and trousers of blue serge, the coats trimmed with black braid and the cap with gold. On special occasions, they were known to wear white duck. The band was an important part of nearly all the celebrations held in town and also travelled to distant communities to add their music to gatherings. The Markdale Citizens' Band played at Orange Lodge festivities, at fall fairs, and gave weekly concerts on the streets of Markdale in the summer. One citizen told the Markdale Standard that the community needed a bandstand, stating, "lt is very distressing for our bands men to stand in the middle of the road to play the weekly programme, running the risk of accidents by passing vehicles or runaways or worse still of the mob of young boys who run around playing tag and making such a commotion that the band boys cannot hear any other part but their own, consequently making discords at times."

We don't know if Markdale ever got a bandstand but for many years, the band played on.