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Thorold Reed Band is born

The Thorold Reed Band bandshell series is underway on Wednesday nights in the Battle of Beaverdams Park. In this week's History Column, we take a look at how the Band was launched, from a chapter in Thorold, Township and Town, 1786-1932, published by John H. Thompson.

“The Thorold Band” was organized in 1851, this being the first band in the town. The first teacher was Joseph Harkness, the leader was James Weeks, and the other members were Joseph Abbott, James Winslow, Daniel Fordham, Peter Milloy, Robert Eddy, and John Pew.

This musical body continued in existence for only two or three years, the number of members being increased during that time by the addition of Alex Lettey, John Dixon, Joseph Dixon, Chas. Ball, Wm. J. Shannon, and John H. Caspar.

The instruments were the property of the village, and in 1854 were handed over to the reeve, and for some time the village was without a band*. During the time that the instruments lay in the council room (1857) in charge of the reeve of that year, the Drummondville fire brigade sent a messenger to Thorold to ask the bandsmen to play for them on July 4th at a parade that they were to attend across the river.

The agent was told there was no band in existence, and that it was impossible. He insisted, and the issue was that five of the bandsmen stole through a window, took five instruments, drew handsome remuneration for their work, returned home, replaced the instruments as secretly as they had taken them, and neither the council nor the villagers were ever the wiser.

Then, a second one was organized by Charles Ball, who became its leader for a year or two, when Mr. Weeks once again took charge. Among the members were Sam Cleveland, Charles Cleveland, Russell Wells, Henry Carter, Charles Ball and others—eight or ten in all.

This band used the original instruments, and supplied music to the citizens for several years, until, in 1866, the “Orange Young Britons’ Band” was formed, many members of the old organization joining this one. This band became a strong one, and for three years was attached to the 44th Battalion as a military band, still under the leadership of Mr. Weeks. About the year 1876, he retired from the leadership, and Chas. Heinicke of St. Catharines took charge for two or three years, at the end of which time, the leadership was tendered to W. A. Philip.

The officers and members for 1897 were: Conductor – W. A. Philip, President – Geo. Burley, Secretary – Wm. Donald, Treasurer – Jared Upper, Drum Major – Wm. Allen. Thomas Burley, Edgar Badger, Harry Thompson, Harry Bye, William Burley, Arch. Doherty, William Bradley, James Stevens, Joseph Allen, George Doherty, William Wilson, Loran Pew, Walter Badger, George Walker, F. M. Pew, Adam Martin, George Dawson, Frank Allen.

The band was equipped with uniforms and with a full set of Besson’s instruments (London, England) of the highest grade, and was the equal of any military band in the district.

It was known as the “Thorold Reed Band.”

About 1875, “St. Patrick’s Band” was organized, and for a time Thorold had two musical organizations.  Thos. Cross of the Royal Canadian Rifles was the teacher for the first year, when Mr. Weeks took charge of this also, being thus the leader of both bands for some time. St. Patrick’s Band lasted until the new canal approached completion, when many of its members, who had been employed on that work, were obliged to leave.

Editor's Note: The Thorold News staff was always led to believe that the Thorold Reed Band has been playing--without interruption--since its formation in 1851. However, according to this source, "For some time, the village was without a band ..."