The long, proud history of the BCB

The City of Brampton Concert Band was founded in 1884 by its first Bandmaster, James Crawford, making it one of the oldest community bands in Canada. As with band tradition of the day, the band was comprised of the employees of a local industry, the mechanics of the Haggert Foundry. The original band name was the Brampton Mechanic’s Band. Early activities for the band were concerts for garden parties in the summer and open air skating in the winter.

1888

Our founding Bandmaster,
James Crawford

In 1903, the band was re-organized and changed its name to the Brampton Citizen’s band.  During this era, it emerged as the town band with Brampton paying the bandmaster’s salary, and started performing at the bandshell that was constructed in Gage Park in 1903. 

1903

Under the direction of W. Emerson Downs, the band began establishing its reputation as a band of acclaim, winning three firsts, a second and third at the prestigious Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Band Competitions.

1922

Continuing with its civic duties the band became affiliated with the Peel and Dufferin Regiment and was renamed the Peel and Dufferin Regimental Band under the direction of J. J. Buckle.  The town continued its support, paying the bandmaster’s salary.  During the 30’s the band attained near legend status, winning nine firsts, two seconds and a third in successive years at the CNE competition.

1930

In 1936, the band reorganized and was once again named the Brampton Citizen’s Band. Depleted by members serving in the Second World War, the band continued its civic duties, sometimes with only 12 members at a performance.  W. T. Atkins was appointed bandmaster in 1947 and would lead the band into a new era of rejuvenation and growth.

1957

1968

During this era, under W. T. Atkins’ direction, the band won 28 first awards at National and Provincial music festivals, while continuing to serve Brampton at many civic functions and Gage Park concerts.

In 1967, the band allowed the first women to join the organization.

 

Emerging from the Second World War, the band entered a difficult period of rebuilding, at first lacking proper equipment and instruments.  Town Council enacted a by-law in 1954 providing financial support to the band to provide a stable financial base from which it could grow.

1967

1970’s headlines

The 1970’s saw a number of memorable moments, including the passing of the baton to a new musical director in Ken Cotterill, recording of an album in 1974, participation in the City’s 100th anniversary celebrations and celebrating the band’s own 90th anniversary in 1974. A junior band was established, giving younger musicians an environment to expand their art under the tutelage of the music director and mature band members.  The band continued with its success at local and national competitions.  The 1970’s also saw a name change to the Brampton Concert Band, reflecting a shift from a less military-style band to that of a more concert-oriented band.

The 1980’s saw the celebration of the band’s 100th anniversary, a switch of funding from the City to financing operations through bingo revenues.  The band continued to steadfastly serve the community through its civic duties and various concerts featuring various high profile soloists.

100th Anniversary

The 1990’s saw a change in rehearsal venue to the current dedicated bandroom in the basement of 55 Queen Street.  In 1997, Ken Cotterill retired as conductor after 21 years of dedicated service.  With Jim Lewis temporarily leading the band pending a permanent replacement for Ken, noted trumpet player and music director, Darryl Eaton, took over duties from Jim in 1999.  This era saw a refocusing of the band to achieve success on the local, national and international stage, with four successive gold standard awards — three at the national level.

Switzerland, 2005.

Ribbon-cutting of our dedicated bandroom, 1992.

 

This success brought invitations to international festivals and venues including Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland and most recently, France.  The band commissioned a number of new works and recorded three CDs and one DVD.  Mr. Eaton retired from the band after 15 years of excellent service in 2013.  Our current conductor, Trumpet player and Alfred Music Publishing composer, Vince Gassi, is leading the band through an exciting period of rejuvenation.

Throughout all of these years, the band maintained its service to the community in local events and functions and is extremely proud to be a part of Brampton’s history and to serve it musically.  We continue to look forward to providing a challenging but fun musical environment for our members, to serve Brampton and to be an ambassador for the City through the achievement of excellence in musical performance.

Posing with a restored Haggert Foundry steam engine.