History

Directors

1948-1952 Edward Hunt


1952- 1963 Frank Padmore


1963-1966 Hugh Dodge and Raymond Sapp


1966- 1996 Bill Stitt


1996-2003 John Bird


2003- 2006 Bob Warren


2006-2013 Scott Mac Donald


2013- Rod MacGillivray


Mersey Band “Homes”


• The “Sail Loft” an old building at the Mersey Paper Company used for ship 


repair in World War 2. 


• The old restaurant building just inside the mill gate


• The Woodlands Conference Center at Bowater 


• Beach Meadows Community Center- a few practices


• South Queens Junior High School


• Zion United Church


• Gorham School


• South Queens Junior High School 2012


• Milton Community hall 2013


Formation of the Band


The Mersey Band started in 1948 although Liverpool previously had a Citizens’ Band and a High School Cadet Band. In 1947 the Liverpool Citizens’ Band disbanded as membership dropped and the group had difficulty finding a place to practice. Some members of the old Liverpool Citizens’ Band approached the Mersey Paper Company to provide them with a practice hall. On February 16, 1948 sixteen musicians moved into the old Sail Loft, a building left over from ship repair days of World War 2, and renamed their group the Mersey Band. 


Harry A Patterson who was mill manager at the time was elected band president and Edward Hunt bandmaster.


A fire one year later destroyed the band’s rehearsal building along with many of the band’s instruments and their music library. This setback could have dissolved the band but it didn’t! They moved to the old restaurant building just inside the mill gate and began to rebuild the music library and recondition or purchase new instruments receiving support and encouragement from the company. 


The Mersey Paper Company decided to officially sponsor the Band and on September 2, 1950 it became the Mersey Paper Band. Band membership grew rapidly after official sponsorship, and by 1951 membership had grown to 28 from the original 16. Membership was comprised of company employees, their relatives, local musicians and people voted in by Band members. Uniforms consisted of grey flannel trousers, blue blazer with crest, blue tie and blue tam with crest. 


It was about this time that the Liverpool High School Cadet Band and the Mersey Paper Company Band combined. Ned Hunt and been Bandmaster of the Liverpool Citizens Band and he joined the Mersey band on its formation. Frank Padmore, a member of the Canadian Bandmaster Association served as Band Master from 1952- 1963. During that time the Band continued to grow adding more instruments. 


In 1956 Bowater purchased the company and shortly after the band was renamed the Bowater Mersey Band. 


Hugh Dodge and Raymond Sapp filled in as bandmasters for two years, 1963-65, until a new bandmaster could be found. After retiring from a career with various bands in the Royal Canadian Navy , CPO William Stitt became Bandmaster in 1965, a post he was to hold for the next thirty years!


Company sponsorship of the band was extensive. Each year an annual budget recommended by the executive formed the basis of the Company’s contribution. 


Uniforms, music, instruments, and provision of a bus for engagements were all part of the sponsorship. David Chandler recalls that if a band member was scheduled to be working during a band engagement, the company would pay for a replacement. It was then expected that if you had a day off during an engagement , you would also attend. In return for the wonderful sponsorship, the Band played at many special functions for the company.


Some highlights include: playing for Sir Eric Bowater at the Mersey Lodge shortly after Bowater acquired the mill in 1956; playing for the Mersey’s Board of Directors, several Premiers of the province, Princess Alice and Lord Eroll of Hale in 1976. During the company’s 50th for the Open House and greeted guests at the Anniversary banquet in 1979. 


Another highlight for band members was the company sponsored 1967 trip to Expo in Montreal. The 42 member band, dressed in brand new uniforms played four concerts during their 2 day stay. 


In November of 1980 the band held a 30 year anniversary with six of the original members attending. Bowater Mersey presented the Band with a sterling silver-crowned mace to commemorate the anniversary.


The Mersey Band had become a recognizable ambassador of Queens County contributing to local events like the Port Medway Blessing of the Fleet, the Lunenburg Exhibition Memorial Services, the Simeon Perkins Tea on the Lawn and remembrance Day services and Christmas events as well as parades in Liverpool, Caledonia, and Bridgewater. Outside of Queens County, the band played in the Halifax Natal Day Parade, the Dartmouth Natal Day Parade, the Apple Blossom Festival.


At the end of 1993, due to financial difficulties, Bowater Mersey ended its long sponsorship of the band. The company donated the musical instruments and music to the band and allowed the band to continue to use the Conference and Training Center as a band room. 


Watch for more history of the band in the upcoming months!