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Antigonish Heritage Museum

Drum, Bass

Accession number: 2003.171.002
Date: 1946 – 1966

A small sticker on the outer side of the drum reads: "NorthAmerican VANLINES" as well as "LOT L" and "ITEM 56" The bands name is painted on both faces of the drum, reading: "ANTIGONISH HIGHLAND PIPE BAND"


In pipe bands, the role of the bass drum is to provide rhythmic support to the rest of the ensemble through low, resonant beats. Although there had been pipers and drummers in the area for generations, the first official pipe band to be established in Antigonish was the St. Francis Xavier University Pipe Band in 1942, which disbanded three years later. In 1946, the Antigonish Highland Pipe Band was formed under the direction of Pipe Major Herman Beaton of Brierly Brook, Antigonish County. The band’s first bass drummer was Roy MacDonald. “There was considerable discussion about the cost of supporting the band as the Antigonish Highland Society was not in a position to underwrite its expenses… Instead, the band became affiliated with the Pictou Highlanders, which enabled them to obtain much needed uniforms and equipment. In 1949 and 1950 the Antigonish Highland Pipe Band was known as the Pictou Highlanders ‘B’ Company Pipe Band”. In 1959 the band was reorganized, this time funded by the Antigonish Highland Society and the Arras Branch #59 of the Royal Canadian Legion. In 1966, due to problems relating to funding and sponsorship, the Antigonish Highland Band changed its name and became the Antigonish Legion Pipe Band. The bass drum was put into storage in the Antigonish Legion Hall and a replacement drum was purchased. In 1969, Pipe Major Bill Magennis took the drum, as well as two of the band’s old tenor drums, intending to have the hide surfaces replaced with solid plastic material so that the drums could be used as a coffee table and two end tables. Magennis never got around to refurbishing the drums before moving to Ontario in 1972. Magennis passed the drums on to local piper Scott Williams, who intended to make them into tables as well, however the drums wound up staying in his basement until 2003 when he donated them to the Antigonish Heritage Museum. Source: Pipe Bands of Nova Scotia by Scott Williams; (Oral) Scott Williams


Round; blue and red painted lettering on each side of the drum; around the curved surface of the drum are white ropes in a kind of x pattern, held in place by cream coloured leather bands. Shell is painted black, hoops/rims are painted red. Drum is an old rope tension base drum which is no longer made in mass. Calfskin is used to make the head of the drum due to its pliability.

Parts of the drum are: The drum head, the rims/hoops, the shell, the carriage hook, and rope.

History of Use:

Base drums were started to be used at the turn of the 20th century mostly in pipe and drum bands as well as brass and reed bands, and they have been used as a measure to keep time while playing tunes. The lettering on the drum was only started to be used about 60-70 years ago and was started by civilian bands, before that the "heraldy" of the drum was painted onto the shell while the heads were white. Today, with better adhesives, the drums are fitted with stickers or vinyls. At the beginning of the base drum being used, there was no standardized sizing for them, today thought the standard size would be 26"-28". While not with this drum, the sticks used to play the drum were called beaters and they were made of felt, english cane, and rope/sinew lanyards.