Queen's Bands

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Queen's University Marching Bands
File:Bands logo.png
SchoolQueen's University
LocationKingston, Ontario Canada
Fight song"Old Queen's Sweater"
[[File:Varies by section but all wear the Royal Stewart tartan. Traditional Scottish highland uniform is worn by the Pipe Band and Drum Corps (green doublets) and Brass Band (red doublets). Colour guard wears red sweaters and kilts, Highland dancers wear traditional uniform. The cheerleaders wear white with red, yellow, and blue folded into their skirts.|frameless|upright=1.25|center]]

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The Queen's Bands, established in 1905, is the largest[citation needed] and oldest[citation needed] current university marching band in Canada. They make their home in Grant Hall on the campus of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The Bands operations are managed by students, and during performances the Bands are led by a Drum Major.

The Queen's Bands round the corner into Queen's University West Campus for a Golden Gaels football match.

The Bands play a large role in promoting and maintaining school spirit at Queen's. The Bands comprise six distinct units (hence the pluralization of "Bands"): a pipe band, a drum corps, a brass band (which includes woodwinds as well as brass instruments), Highland dancers, the colour guard and cheerleaders including the Queen's mascot Boo Hoo the Bear. They are led by a drum major and the colour guard. The Bands perform pre-game and half-time shows at all Golden Gaels football games, and lead the crowd in singing the Oil Thigh after the Gaels score a touchdown. For home games, the Bands lead a parade of Queen's football fans from the main campus to the football stadium at the West Campus. Once football season ends they are active in festive parades, most notably the Toronto Santa Claus Parade for Christmas, and the Montreal St. Patrick's Day Parade. In the summers of 2012 and 2017 they performed at the Calgary Stampede. They are also active during Frosh Week, and have also performed internationally, for example in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade, the Cotton Bowl Parade in Dallas and the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade. They wear traditional Scottish military dress, which the Bands most recently purchased after with $250,000 in financial assistance from many donors, most notably the Alma Mater Society of Queen's and former Principal Bill Leggett[citation needed].

The Queen's Bands is a volunteer organization, composed mainly of current undergraduates, but it also features some graduate students and occasionally some alumni among its ranks. Members of the Bands come from a wide range of musical backgrounds, however, since the main goal of the Bands is to have fun and promote the Queen's spirit, this disparity in musical proficiency does not usually cause a problem. In any given year, the band is likely to have only two or three music majors.

The Bands' office is located in the John Deutsch University Centre, while their equipment vault is located in the basement of Grant Hall.


The Bands was founded in 1905, when a group of twelve first-year students decided to form a marching brass band "to help things along at football games." The idea did not gain easy acceptance. The 12 original musicians, which included John Bertram Stirling (Queen's chancellor from 1960 to 1974), suffered verbal abuse on parades to the football field and were ejected from the equipment room, where they practised, by the football team. The group dissolved after just two years, and it was not until 1920 that a marching band reappeared. The revived band, unlike the original group, had its own instruments and even uniforms: white duck trousers, tri-colour sweaters, and Queen's tams. The Queen's University of Kingston, Ontario tartan associated with the university and its pipe band includes the colours of six Queen's academic hoods: blue (Medicine), red (Arts & Science), gold (Applied Science), white (Nursing Science), green (Commerce & MBA), and Purple (Theology).[1] The now traditional kilts and doublets were adopted only after the Second World War (the tartan worn by the Bands is the Royal Stewart (the official tartan of the Canadian royal family and the personal tartan of Her Majesty The Queen); they are the only non-military unit to wear this exclusive tartan). The Queen's Bands' Uniform is traditional full Scottish regalia. This has been the official dress of The Bands for over 50 years and for all fifty of those years the official tartan has been the Royal Stewart. The uniforms are complete with kilts, tunics (both red and green), Cairngorm brooches, half and full plaids, belts, glengarries, hoses and spats, and are always worn according to Regiment customs.

A pipe band was added to the troupe in 1925, but did not become a permanent fixture until 1938, at which time highland dancers also appeared. It is unclear when cheerleaders first joined the Bands. "Rooters clubs" were formed early in the twentieth century to lead students in cheers at Queen's games and appear to have gradually become informally, and then formally, linked with the Bands[2]. Currently, there are only 2 student run "spirit squads" in the OUA: Queen's Bands Cheerleaders and the Queen's Dance Pack[citation needed]. The Bands takes care of the mascot of Queen's University, Boo Hoo the Bear.

Through the years, the Bands have lived up to one primary underlying purpose: to represent and share the spirit of Queen's University. Today the Bands are one of the most well-known groups on campus.


All sections are lead by 1 or 2 section heads who make up part of the executive committee. The section heads run and are voted by the Bands members at the end of every academic year.

Colour guard[edit]

The Colour Guard is a small section of about 8-9 people who march with the flags in front of the Queen's Bands. The section is run by the Head Colour Guard, who marches at the front with the Canadian flag. Other flags that they carry are: the tricolour of Queen's University, the flag of Ontario, the Red Ensign, the Union Jack, the Scottish Lion and the flag of the city of Kingston. The Colour guard can also be seen carrying small Queen's tricolour flags which they throw and spin. Since the Colour Guard marches in front of the Drum Major, and therefore cannot see the mace commands, they work closely together to ensure the Band is led in the right direction.

Drum Major[edit]

The Drum Major marches directly behind the Colour Guard, in front of the pipers and leads the band on parade. The Drum Major dressed in a uniform consisting of a bonnet, an embroidered green tunic, a Drum Major sash, a sword and a dirk and is the most ornately decorated person on parade, aiding the event organizers in finding the person responsible for the Bands. The Drum Major provides commands to the Bands verbally and with a ceremonial mace. The Drum Major also may also take part in the half time routine or on parade by flourishing or throwing the mace. Together with the Marching Directors, the drum major is responsible for leading the marching practices and performances of the Bands.


The Queen's University Pipe Band was established in 1925. The section consists of bagpipers and is lead by the Pipe Major with the second in command being the Pipe Sergeant. The pipe band can be seen at all Queen's Bands events, as well as many Scottish events in the community. The pipe band practices throughout the year and can regularly be heard on campus. The Pipe Band also offers a Bagpipe Club which gives students the opportunity to learn the bagpipes on campus for free.

Drum Corps[edit]

The Drum Corps includes of the pipe band drums and the brass band drums. The Drum Corps consists of snare and tenor drummers as well as a bass drummer. All the drummers wear green tunics except for the Brass Band drummers, who sport red tunics along with the rest of the Brass Band. The drummers perform as part of the Pipe Band, along with the Pipers and Highland Dancers

Highland Dancers[edit]

The Queen’s Bands Highland Dancers are a group of dancers who dance to the music of the bagpipes. Led by two head highland dancers, who lead practices and communicate with the Drum Major on parade, the team performs traditional highland dances including the Highland Fling, Barracks Johnny, Strathspey & Highland Reel, and Seann Triubhas. The dancers range in skill level from experienced dancers to those who have never had any dance training whatsoever. On parade the Highland Dancers flank the Bands and wave at onlookers or clap to the music. The position on the outside ranks allows them to dance in front of spectators lining the streets during parades or run into the crowd during an Oil Thigh.

Brass Band[edit]

Established in 1905, the Brass Band is the oldest section in Queen's Bands. It is also the largest section consisting of around 40 members. The Brass Band consists of brass and woodwind instruments, including piccolo, flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, French horns, euphoniums, sousaphones, and percussion. The two Brass Directors are in charge of weekly Brass Band practices and organizing music for performances.


Queen's Bands Cheerleading is the 18-20 member section that heads up the rear of Bands. This section is captained by a male and female cheer captain responsible for leading and teaching the section. The Cheerleaders perform numerous of stunts including solo, partner and in a group and have a distinguishable "T-Lift" that the Queen's Varsity Cheerleaders do not perform.

Boo Hoo[edit]

Boo Hoo the Bear cheering on the Queen's Gaels at the football game

Boo Hoo the Bear is the mascot of Queen's Univeristy. Originally, Boo Hoo was a real bear purchased by students in 1922. There were five different bears until the 1950s; the mascot was then revived in the 1980s as the form seen today by the Queen's Bands Colourguard. The Boo Hoo costume is a black bear wearing the Royal Stewart waistcoat and tam.

External links[edit]


  1. http://www.scottish-tartans-world-register.com/tartan.aspx?record=2103 Queen's University tartan
  2. "Queen's Bands | Queen's Encyclopedia". www.queensu.ca. Retrieved 2018-02-11.

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