1969 Edinburgh Tattoo

If you were a young boy or girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen living in Vancouver in the 1960s, the Kitsie Boys were not the only band you could join. I call that period, the Golden Age of Community Bands. There were no less than five top rated community bands that you could join. Another one of those bands was the British Columbia Beefeater Band, also known as the Lion’s Band. They were the official band for the B.C. Lion’s Football Club and were a show band. They started touring in 1950, but they were not called the Beefeaters back then. That came later in the mid 1960s when they were hired by Dal Richards to perform the halftime show between Lion’s football games. This episode looks at their first overseas trip that they made in the summer of 1969, to play in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.



ABOVE: Wednesday March 19, 1969 Music goes round and round as french horn section gets special attention from conductor Gordon Olson during BC Beefeater Band’s rehearsal. Group will tour Britain and Europe this summer.

Pageant of Music

On Wednesday, April 16 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre the band performed its Pageant of Music with MC Ted Reynolds.
Selections included Beaded Belts by Erickson, Finlandia by Sibelius, Hornascope by Bennett, George Girl, Die Meistersinger by Wagner, Mountain Greenery by Rodgers, Tailgate Concerto arr. Warrington.
After intermission the band performed Colonel Bogey by Alford, Carnival Variations by Jacoby and McRae, Russian Easter Overture by Korsakoff, Trumpet Voluntary by Purcell, Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Two Familiar Hymns by Ployhar.


The year 1969, marked the first trip off the continent to Europe for the British Columbia Beefeater Band. They arrived in London on July 21 via a PWA charter flight from Vancouver. They were quickly whisked off to Astor College in London where they spent the next three days sightseeing around London and as far away as Oxford, Warwick Castle, Stratford-on-Avon and Banbury as well as Windsor Castle and Eton. Their place of residence in London was in a residential area affiliated with Middlesex Hospital, a medical college.

On July 24th, the Beefeater Band departed England at Dover for Ostende by steamer and then coach to Brussells where they stayed overnight at the Hotel Van Belle..The next day after some sightseeing they were off to Antwerp for more sightseeing, then over the border into Holland for a two night stay in Arnheim at the Hotel Carnegie and Hotel Bakker. They toured nearby Amsterdam in the daytime.
The following day it was off to Germany to visit the famous city of Cologne. Next was a drive along the Rhine River to Bonn, the capital of West Germany and then on to the Hotel Eden in Bad Godesberg for the night.
On July 28th the band continued along the banks of the Rhine to Koblenz and then on into Luxembourg where they stayed the night at the Hotel du Parc in Echternach. In Luxembourg they saw the illuminations.
On the 29th the band drove through Luxembourg to the cathedral city of Rheims for lunch and then on to Paris for a two night stay at the hotels Splendid Lafayette and Citroen. Concerts took place in Brussels, Bonn and Paris.
They left Paris on July 31st and drove through the Picardy countryside and Flanders to Ostend.



1969 off to edinburgh

ABOVE: South Vancouver members of 72 member BEEFEATERS BAND which departs today on tour of British Isles and Europe are pictured above. From left to right: Front row: Nola Brinkworth, 2996 East 27th Avenue, Shirley Williamson, 2811 east 42nd Avenue, Middle Row: Allen Jewall, 5327 Knight Street; Jerry Brebner, 6684 Culloden Street; David Waugh, 4817 Dumfries Street. Back Row: Daryl Bennett, 1372 East 63rd Avenue, Tim Rior, 5303 Fleming Street; Randy Simpson, 922 East 63rd Avenue; Dale Friesen, 1176 East 31st Avenue.

1969 Aug15

ABOVE: Scottish Country Dancers and the massed bands fill the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle.

Full Color Tattoo Opens Tonight

The 1969 Edinburgh Military Tattoo opened Friday August 15th with a special flourish of trumpets by the Royal Marines to herald what is undoubtedly a colour spectacular. It is sure to delight Princess Alexandra when she takes the salute next Friday, and catch the eye of Prince Georg of Denmark when he takes the salute tomorrow.
The Royal Caadian Mounties unfortunately had their exciting musical ride reduced to walking pace due to the lack of space on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. The performance lacked the life of movement and the impact of the blood-curdling charge, which has had to be missed out.
The RCMP were overshadowed somewhat by their enthusiastic young non-service colleagues in the British Columbia Beefeater Band. It is the first visit to this country by the seventy member group who all wear the Tudor style dress of the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London. The average age is eighteen and they are led by an enthusiastic drum-major and five female jesters. Both organizations will perform in all twenty-eight performances of the tattoo.

ABOVE LEFT: Back view of the British Columbia Beefeater band.

ABOVE RIGHT: The energetic drum-major, Doug Atkin of the Beefeaters lets himself go.

1969 Maple Leaf Marchers

And the crowds loved them!

ABOVE: The scene is Princes Street, the uniforms are copies of those worn by the Beefeaters who guard the Tower of London, the bandsmen wearing them come from British Columbia in Canada and the tunes they play are jazz-flavored – and that all started in America, or was it Africa? The British Columbia Beefeater band got a great reception when they took part in a special parade of tattoo performers along Princes Street today.

1969 Aug 20

ABOVE: The British Columbia Beefeater Band, closely followed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, make their way along Princes Street, Edinburgh, yesterday morning during the parade of elements taking part in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo of 1969. Large crowds turned out to watch and cheer the performers.

1969 aug 20-1

ABOVE: A closer look at the young instrumentalists from British Columbia.

1969 Aug 19

ABOVE: Massed military bands march past a crowd of thousands in today’s procession of Edinburgh Military Tattoo performers along Princes Street.

Canadians steal the show with all that jazz

Crowds estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000 lined the route and basked in the sunshine. massed pipes and drums led the march, but the favourites with the crowd were the Canadian contingent, ed by the British Columbia Beefeater Band. Led by five baton-twirling majorettes who pranced their way along the street, the band gave an atmosphere of relaxed joviality, in contrast to the rather dour pomp of some of the military participants. They were followed by a squad of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who also received a tremendous cheer.

1969 Aug 15-2

ABOVE: Majorettes lead the British Columbia Beefeater Band, from Canada, along the castle Esplanade in Edinburgh at last night’s Tattoo dress rehearsal. In earlier years band leaders at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo have invariably been in the military mould, but this year things are different. A high-stepping majorette (she’s one of six) leads British Columbia’s Beefeater Band.

Strike up the band!

1969 4

1969 - 2

ABOVE: Grand Finale…the moment that stirred the hearts of thousands at this year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Massed on the Esplanade at the close of the tattoo are the regimental bands, the Danish Guards and the Mounties where the castle makes a dramatic backdrop.


ABOVE: Mrs. McKinnon pictured with members of the Canadian Beefeaters who visited her last week

Mrs. Gene McKinnon, and her restless urge for meeting young people,  has seen the Canadian Mounties and Beefeaters visit her Linlithgow home. Mrs. McKinnon (85) is “queen” of the world’s liqueur industry and has Williamcraigs farm as a busy sideline to the profitable Drambuie firm of which she is chairman.


ABOVE: George Hunter listening to Doug Adkin and George Yea. When George was given a saxophone to play he said, “It’s terrific. I’ve never seen anything like it. Wow!” 

Children’s eyes sparkled for an hour as they were transported from their world of nurses and doctors. The occasion was a special show by Edinburgh Tattoo performers at the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital at Fairmilehead. Children sat in beds and looked on enthralled as kilted pipers marched up and down and red-coated soldiers playing flutes and drums wheeled and turned on the lawn.


ABOVE: Sandra and Shelley McClellan are in Edinburgh to play clarinet in the Beefeater Band. They are thrilled by the event of course. And there’s easily enough excitement for two.

1969Kathy Naples

B.C. Beefeater Band Back; British Show a ‘Smash Hit’

“We were a complete smash hit at the tattoo,” said Gordon Olson. The festival producer and many others said we were the number one item there and the producer hopes to have us back in the tattoo in 1971 or 1972. “We definitely put Canada and B.C. on the map.”
Olson said the band played before about 250,000 people at the festival and about 85 million television viewers when one night of the tatoo was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corp.
The band, whose members range in age from 14 to 19 was the only Canadian youth group participating in the festival, which also included the R.C.M.P. Musical Ride.
The seven week tour, the first overseas tour for the band, began with performances in Belgium, Holland, West Germany, Luxembourg and France.
It then performed for a month in the 90-minute tattoo, giving 28 performances consisting of a 12-minute individual act and a part in the finale of massed bands.
“We were the first of what are called show bands to appear in the tattoo,” said Olson.
Band members also included the Jesters majorette group.
“The young people in the band did a great job representing Canada, both musically and personally in the way they conducted themselves,” said Olson.
The youths paid for much of the $29,000 cost of the trip themselves by raising money through bazaars and fund drives.
Festival organizers paid $5,000 of the cost and the B.C. government contributed $4,200. Each band member paid $550.
A homecoming concert is scheduled for September 17 at the B.C. Lions football game in Empire Stadium.

Beefeaters Band – A Letter!
I hope you will forgive me the liberty of writing you, but I felt I would like you and your readers o know how much the Edinburgh people, nay, everyone who saw and heard the youngsters of the B.C. Beefeaters Band, appreciated the refreshing enthusiasm of these kids, and their wonderful show at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
If this is an example of Canadian youth, then it;s time they were sponsered on a world tour and I know this may sound a bit far-fetched but in this modern permissive age of flower people, hippies, mods and rockers and what have you these youngsters were like a breath of clean spring air in a smuttly world.
This performance at Edinburgh will be remembered for many a long day, and if I say that the sight and sound of them in the old esplanade of the Castle stirred an thrilled you the same as the skirl of the pipes to a Scotsman, you have an idea how well they went down here.
Vancouver can be very proud of its sons and daughters.
I was involved in a very minor part, being the Tattoo transport clerk, and a colleague of Sgt. Val Bragan, who looked after the kids as if they were all his own and I amsure after 20 odd years service, this is one assignment he will remember all the days of his life.
I can hear him telling his great-grandchildren all about the time he looked after the kids of the British Columbia Beefeater’s Band at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo of ‘69.
Well sir, I sincerely hope I haven’t bored you, but as I’ve said I felt I had to do something as a tribute, as these youngsters were a joy to watch and listen to.
Jas Duffy, Tattoo Transport Clerk, 25 Loaning Crescent, Edinburgh, Scotland


ABOVE: Headline news in Scotland, Vancouver’s Beefeater Band took Edinburgh by storm when they performed in city’s famed tattoo. Sheila Peterson scans press clippings of Scottish press coverage, all ecstatic in praise of Beefeaters and RCMP Musical Ride, which shared the bill.


ABOVE: On Saturday, October 4, the United Appeal entertainers visited Brentwood Shopping Centre on behalf of the Giant Effort. Emcee was well-known band leader Dal Richards, performers were a group from the Beefeaters Band.


ABOVE: December 11, 1969 Bully for the Beefeater Band Boys


8 thoughts on “1969 Edinburgh Tattoo

  1. I still remember seeing the Beefeater band at the 1969 tattoo – I was only 9 years old and the hair on the back of my neck stood up when you played St Louis Blues! So much so that I forced my parents to take me back again the next night. It was my first experience of swing and jazz, and I’ve loved the music ever since and played it as an amateur and semi-pro. Thanks for this marvellous memory.


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