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Monday, 19 September 2011

British Household Troops Band Visits Canada

The Household Troops Band

In the early summer of 1885 in England there was a "Great Kent March" by Salvation Army Officer-cadets. They were known as "Life Guards" and the march was headed by a band of 25 brass instrumentalists, each wearing a white pith military helmet( the normal military headgear of the day), a red Guernsey, blue trousers and gaiters and carrying a knapsack and water bottle.

Later it was suggested that a permanent band might be established. A War Cry advertisement called for volunteers: " If you're young, if you're saved, if you're physically fit, if you can play a brass instrument... „are prepared to leave home and family for six months active service for God and the Army. ...then be at Clapton Congress Hall on 12th March 1887." The Household Troops Band was formed with Staff- Captain Harry Appleby as bandmaster.

No salary was offered and no guarantee was given apart from food and clothing. On June 1st, 1887 the pioneer 25 members of the Household Troops Band left Clapton Congress Hall to march into Salvation Army history. Their first tour lasted 8 months.

The next year, in October, the band left for Canada as the first British Salvation Army band to cross the Atlantic. This visit was an outstanding success as from October 1888 to February 1889 they campaigned daily in towns throughout Eastern Canada from as far west as Windsor, Ontario and as far east as Halifax, Nova Scotia, before leaving St. Stephen, NB to tour the United States.

General Arnold Brown in his book "The History Of The Salvation Army In Canada wrote: " ...it was the impact of the English Household Troops Band which, more than any other event in this period, aroused the musical consciousness of Salvationists in Canada."

Shortly after the Band returned to England, Territorial Headquarters at the direction of the then Territorial Commander, Commissioner T.B. Coombs initiated the formation of a Canadian 'Household Troops' band, which was comprised mostly of teenage boys, some of whom were sons of Salvation Army officers stationed at Territorial Headquarters.

Corps Bands now began to show up at many centres and flourish. The May 4, 1889. issue of The War Cry commenced a column devoted entirely to the interests of Bandsmen. It was obvious that Salvation Army banding was here to stay. An early print of the Riverside (Toronto V) Band - incidentally the first Band in Canada to introduce female members into its ranks - shows the corps' two girl officers with a group that included four comet players, three tenor horn players, and other instrumentalists playing baritones, euphonium, trombone, and circular bass.

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