Rick Hill

My Band Days!

I joined the Vancouver Junior band in 1962 and aside from Gordon Olson my teachers were Bill Good & Don Adams. Mr. Olson instilled the strickness it takes to become a musician and was always supportive not to mention his constructive criticism. There were times where I felt like giving up and quitting in the early years but stuck with it thanks to Mr. Olson.

My fond memories are, PNE Parades, Seattle Seafarer Parade, 1966 Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade, Chicago/Detroit 1968 the Detroit Riots very scary, and of course the 1969 Edinburgh Tattoo and travelling throughout Europe. I made many friends and will Cherish them forever. I never gave up drums I continued on playing with several bands including today’s Rhythm & Blues Allstars where we have shared the stage with the likes of James Brown, War and Long John Baldry. Cheers, Rick Hill

Al Lynch

A Boy With A Horn!


My cousin Charles Milroy was a trumpet player in the Vancouver Junior Band. I really admired him. I spent a lot of time at his house. When I was 6 he gave me a mouthpiece. I had it for about two years before my mother bought me a trumpet. The VJB had a A band, a B band and a C band. I joined in 1957. I really enjoyed it. I went to Britannia High School. We didn’t have a band at our high school in those days. I couldn’t play any sports because the band took up most of my time. It was a fabulous experience. My cousin Chuck was about 4 or 5 years older than me. He was a big influence on me in my youth. Other trumpet players in the band that I looked up to were Tom Rintoul, Sandy Barstow and Gary Thomas.

Mr. Olson was very dictatorial.I remember him standing up in front of the band conducting. I went to the band centre down on Broadway at Main. Ken Hopkins from the VSO was my trumpet teacher. Once a week I got a lesson. The band rehearsed in the Arcadian Hall on Main Street on the hill just north of Broadway. It eventually burnt down. I grew up at 4th & Commercial. I remember riding my bike over to rehearsals on Main Street. I remember carrying my trumpet. I must have had it strapped on somehow. I guess I must have practiced a lot. None of us liked fundraising. We had to walk door to door in our uniforms through the Shaughnessy neighbourhood selling chocolates. Here I was, a kid from the east end. We did a lot of marching.

My first trip was in 1960, the Western US Tour. I remember playing in Pacific Grove, California. I was only 12 on that trip. I met my first girl friend in Pacific Grove. We won a lot of awards. The band performed a lot of intricate march routines. We went to L.A. and Disneyland on that trip. In 1962, we went to Minneapolis. I was 14. We always had chaperones around so we didn’t get into any trouble. We practiced our marching routines at the Model School at 12th Cambie Street. Today there is a shopping centre where it used to be.

The VJB comes to Empire Stadium


ABOVE: Vancouver Junior Band, Williamson Family (Ken, Stan, Barbara and Shirley)

1955 Vancouver College Band

ABOVE: Vancouver College Band members rehearsing in the cafeteria

The 13th annual Festival of Music was held on May 16 at the Lord Byng Auditorium. Master of Ceremonies was Hal Francis.
Selections included Beaded Belts by Erickson, Sun Valley Moutains by Ogden, Drumsticks, Prelude in C Minor by Rachmaninoff, Carnival Variations, Arr. Jacoby and McRae, Semper Fidelis by Sousa, Frolic of the Keys, arr. Briegel, Basses Beserk by Bennett, Dark Eyes, arr. Walters, Light Calvary Overture by Von Suppe.
Massed Band selections included Cathedral Echoes by Morissey, Bolero Non by Kurtz, Cachuca by Morissey and Flashing Brass by Nyquist.



B.C.Lions FC

Diespecker left in 1957 and that year Gordon Olson brought his Vancouver Junior Band to Empire Stadium. Now Richards had become band-leader, producer and co-ordinator. He had his own 40 piece house band, 30 dancers and Olson’s 50 juniors. The maestro started to develop themes. He saluted such places as Hawaii, spending money on props such as grass skirts, fake palm trees and tom-toms.

ABOVE: Al Lynch in 1957.  Thanks to Al for all the great photos.

The Fifties

Vancouver College Band2 1954 2

The Fifties

They played in the Kelowna Regatta in 1950. In 1951, they walked away with the Lion’s Club Trophy in the Junior Band competition in Chilliwack. That same year they toured through seven U.S. States and Mexico. In 1952, they were awarded for the third time, the Lion’s Junior Band Trophy and completed their year with a tour through Washington and Oregon.
1953 found the band sporting new uniforms consisting of royal blue trousers, white shirts, red-lined capes and wedge caps. Thus nattily attired they went on to win top honours in the North West Washington State Band Contest, and here at home entered and won the Band contest at the Pacific National Exhibition.
By 1954 Mr. Olson had built his V.C. Band into a proud organization. It had 45 members and contributed a major portion of the entertainment at school functions and performances. It was Mr. Olson’s interest to mold a group of grammar school boys on instruments so that in years to come they might become a championship band. At St. Patrick’s Day festivities the band evoked considerable applause for their renditions of “It’s a Great Day For The Irish,” and “Mother Machree.” Even biggerr things are expected of these budding philharmonic musicians.
Another full year in 1954 added to their list of accomplishments, Honours at the P.N.E. Band Contest, Honours at N.W. Washington State Band Contest and a concert tour through five Canadian provinces and eleven U.S. States.

By 1955, first place wins were becoming quite the usual procedure for the Junior Band as can be seen by the following statistics: First Place Lion’s Club Trophy Junior Band Competition, First Place Challenge Trophy, Senior Band Contest, Chilliwack, Highest Honours, North West Washington Band Competition.

Every year Mr. Olson held a Festival of Music. In 1955 it was held Friday April 29th in the Lord Byng Auditorium. Master of Ceremony was Barnie Potts. Selections included Military Escort by Bennett, Hans Christian Anderson, Frank Loesser, Syncopated Clock by Hathaway, In The Cathedral by Pierne, Tournament of Trumpets by Bennett, Symphony No.5 by Dvorak, Trombone Troubadours, American Patrol by Glen Miller, Traveler Overture by Buchtel, Drumsticks by Edwards and Stars and Stripes Forever by Sousa.