media release

“Haggis run” brings drum leader home

August 14, 2011

Marianne Meadahl/Steve Ray (in Scotland until Monday) 44-742-649-5319; or

Photos on Flickr Video on Youtube
Reid Maxwell  

Warm instruments, a good night sleep and hearty breakfast have become the recipe that Lead Drummer Reid Maxwell turns to when rallying the troupes to a win at the Worlds.

For the past 17 years he has served up a haggis breakfast on the day of the Worlds to keep stomachs warm and give his musicians a good start.

To do so, he makes the trip back to his hometown of Bowhill, a suburb of Cardenden, where his still mother lives, to buy haggis and all the fixings for the group.

The tradition evolved as a way to keep his drum corps strong on “game day.” Pipers have since joined in.

“It’s a good way to go, giving the guys some good Scottish fare, a hearty fried breakfast before they head out, ” says Maxwell, one of the world’s most decorated drummers.

The haggis is served up along side eggs, sausages and fresh buns. “There’s no better way to start the day, and especially one as important as this.”

Maxwell, who resides in Coquitlam with son Grant, also a drummer in the band, makes the trip back home to pick up the haggis from Dave Colville, the local butcher, and visit his mother Catherine when the band is in Stirling for a week of practice before the Worlds.

“I get it the day before so I know it’ll be fresh,” says Maxwell. “And I don’t mind supporting the local butcher either.”

Backgrounder: Reid Maxwell

SFU Pipe Band Lead Drummer Reid Maxwell may have been born with drumsticks.

“I can’t ever remember a time when Reid didn’t play the drums, from early on he would bang dolly pegs (used for hanging clothes) on everything – the trees, the chairs – and then it was always with the sticks,” recalls Catherine.

“He just loved to be drumming. He was always sporty and liked his football and swimming, he always had to be on the go. But if it was in the house, it was drumming, the whole time.”

Maxwell took informal lessons at age seven from a neighbourhood teacher, “Willie” Bell, a life-long friend, and also played with a local band.

He joined the young and inventive Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band and won his first drumming title at just 14 – the first of three in a row. He was 16 when the band also won the world championships.

Maxwell moved to Canada and at 20, won his second world championship with Toronto’s 78th Fraser Highland Pipe Band in 1987 (that year, SFU came second). It was the first time a band outside Scotland won the Worlds.

He almost gave up drumming but a chance inquiry from Jack and Terry Lee of SFU’s band led him to join in 1992. “A few years later we had that magical run,” says Maxwell, referring to SFU’s wins in 1995, 96, 99 and 2001. He’s the world’s only lead drummer to win championships with three different bands and lays claim to 16 Worlds championships.

Hoping to add to that in future years with SFU, the haggis run commits him to returning home to visit family and walk through the neighbourhood, reliving the early days that got him to where he is today. “Things usually evolve with a bit of luck, and that’s what happened to me,” he says.

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