As a Grade III pipe band, also registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, we are dedicated to the promotion of Scottish culture through performance and education. Our musicians include students and professionals, teenagers and 70-somethings, but all share this dedication.
Though the band was officially founded in 1938, our roots trace back to the late 19th century, making us the oldest continuously operated pipe band in the Pacific Northwest. Throughout our history, we have maintained a tradition of excellence. Today, the band competes at most of the scheduled BCPBA events throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Besides pipe band competitions, we have numerous performances throughout the year. Events include parades, weddings, funeral and corporate functions. If you are interested in hiring the band for a performance, please contact us as our calendar fills up quickly, especially during the Summer months and holidays.
Pipe band history in Washington State goes back to the 1890’s. Three bands existed in the Seattle area at that time: the Pipe Band of the Scottish Gaelic Society, the American Legion Rainier-Noble Post Pipe Band, and the Seattle Pipe Band (founded in 1916). Pipe majors of this era included John MacDonald and John Ironsides. By the early 1920’s the three bands had united as the Seattle Pipe Band under the direction of legendary P/M Alex Gray of Scotland.
The Seattle Pipe Band soon established a reputation for excellence on the contest field, winning the coveted Stewart Trophy in Vancouver, BC, under P/M Ben MacPhee in 1938. However, dissension set in as to whether the band should remain primarily a competition band or should concentrate on being a performance band. The division resulted in the band splitting into two separate bands in 1938. Those opting to remain a competitive band had now formed the Washington Scottish Pipe Band, with the others remaining with the Seattle Pipe Band.
The Washington Scottish Pipe Band was first led by P/M Angus Smith, son of former Seattle Pipe Band member Duncan Smith. The band’s early years were marked by success both in competition and in performance throughout the Western United States and Canada. In 1942 Angus Smith moved to California, and the P/M title was turned over to Alastair MacRae, son of longtime band member Alexander MacRae. This began what was to be a long period of MacRae Family leadership.
The United States had entered World War II by the time Alastair took over the band, and many band members were called to serve in the war efforts, including Alastair. As a result, Jack Ritchie took over as acting P/M. The band continued to perform during the war despite its reduced numbers, going so far as to be named as official members of the Washington State Guard. Band members donned military jackets with the WAG insignia and served as the Official Pipe Band of the unit playing at weekly guard meetings representing them on parade. Because the unit was a member of the 7th Cavalry its official pipe tune was “Garry Owen.” Following the war, the connection with the Guard was severed, and the band no longer performed “Garry Owen.”
Alastair MacRae rejoined the Washington Scottish Pipe Band after the war and went on to become the band’s longest serving P/M. Under his leadership, the band won numerous contests, including the Pacific Northwest Grade III championships. Alastair, a top professional piper, won the individual Open Championship as well before stepping down from the P/M role in 1967. Alastair’s brother Colin then took the band reins for 2 years. Colin was followed by Roy Cotton, who served from 1969 until 1978. In that year, Alastair MacRae’s nephew Colin Jr. took over the Washington Scottish. Colin held the PM role until 2000 and led the band to three Grade III Championships, plus a win over the North American Grade II Champions at the Vancouver, BC Indoor contest in 1988.
Colin was followed by Dave Guthrie, who served in 2000 and 2001. Kevin Auld led the band from 2002 to 2005, Dave Guthrie returned to the role in 2005. In 2013 he was followed by his son, Jim Guthrie the current P/M.