History

Tracing the history of brass bands is more often than not an impossible task, Fortunately for us the Fergus Brass Band history is easily found at the Band Hall. Its walls are festooned with pictures taken of the bands activities aver the past 150 years, along with a book explaining each picture. The earliest pictorial record is a photograph of the Fergus Citizens Band, as the Brass Band was then known, at the opening in 1870 of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway, eventually CN Rail. This information, pictorial and written, is a most fitting tribute to the many hundreds of dedicated musicians who have contributed to the Brass Band musical heritage.

The band is probably the oldest, continuously functioning brass band in existence today. First organized in 1855, Mr. A. Whitley, the director, travelled from Guelph to Fergus twice a week to put the band through its paces. Since that time, two years before the first Fergus Town Council meeting, 12 years prior to Confederation and 27 years before Sousa organised his famous Band in 1882, the Fergus Brass Band, in the words of past bandmaster Art Lee, has “touched all bases”. “The Brass” has played for numerous function including farewells for departing soldiers, the King and Queen of England during a 1930’s visit, Royal Canadian Legion functions, Remembrance Day and military funerals. Today the number of appearances ranges from 30-40 annually. One of the biggest is at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games in August.

The original Brass Band concept has undergone changes in the past few decades. The Brass Band at one time was made up of only brass instruments and percussion. Nowadays, the Band has become increasing more like a concert band, with reeds and woodwinds becoming part of the “tout ensemble”. However, despite the onward march of time and the inevitable changes which accompany its resolute progress, some things have remained constant. The Fergus Brass Band remains a volunteer organisation; it meets every Tuesday evening from 8 to 10 p.m. for rehearsal. New members are always needed and will receive a very warm welcome. It costs nothing to join except a joy of music and the desire and ability to perform. The Fergus Brass Band has a rich and colourful history going back 150 years and the secure place it occupies in the affections of this community will also guarantee its place for years to come.

 

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