People: The Essex-Scottish Regiment
Jock Copland and the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums:
When the Essex Fusiliers officially became a Highland regiment in 1927, it adopted many distinguishing features, including a pipe band. It wasn't difficult to pull together a unit of veteran pipers, since the 241st Canadian Scottish Borderers had gone into the First World War accompanied by a pipe band under the direction of Pipe Major Jock Copland. Copland had been a piper in the Royal Engineers Territorial Force in Great Britain before immigrating to Galt, Ontario, in 1911, where he had founded what became the Pipe Band of The Highland Light Infantry. In 1916, the 241st Canadian Scottish Borderers invited him to Windsor to form a pipe band, and Copland went overseas with this unit. After the war, the band had stayed together as the Border Cities Pipe Band. These veteran pipers formed the core of the Essex Scottish Regiment pipe band when it was founded in 1927.
Aside from playing with the Essex Scottish, Copland also instructed young pipers at the Walkerville High School Army Cadet Pipe Band, many of which would follow him to Europe during the Second World War. Two of his sons, James and Robert, would go with him as well. Jock was sixty when the war broke out in 1939, fifteen years too old to join the Canadian Armed Services Force. But he had been with the Essex Scottish for over twenty years; he had two sons in the band; and he had served in the First World War. He was determined to serve his regiment in this war as well: he lied about his age, claiming he was only forty-five, to join the active service. Illness, unfortunately, caught up with him in Britain, and he was sent back to Windsor in January 1941. Jock, however, retained his ties with the Essex Scottish as Pipe Major for the reserve 2nd Battalion.
The people of Windsor paid tribute to Jock, MBE of the Essex and Kent Scottish, in a ceremony hold in April 1955. Lieutenant-Colonel Walter McGregor commented on Jock's long association with the regiment when he reminded the assembled guests that he had the same pipe major as his father, Lieutenant-Colonel Walter McGregor, Sr., had had as commander of the Essex Scottish during the First World War. When words failed Jock as he attempted to make a speech amid a roaring round of applause, he expressed his gratitude by playing a stirring duet with his son, Pipe Sergeant James Copland.
Jock brought forty years of service with the Essex Scottish to a close with his retirement in December 1957. The regiment paid its final tribute to Jock with a parade on 7 March 1958. His son, Pipe Sergeant James Copland, succeeded his post, while his other son, Robert, served as the regiment's Drum Major. The band would continue to enjoy the same success it had under Jock's leadership, and was invited to play at the British Columbia Centennial that summer.
Jock died at the age of eighty-six on 29 April 1966 after a prolonged illness. His sons, James and Robert, retired from the pipe band the following year, closing the half century the Copland family had spent as pipers for the Essex and Kent Scottish.
Several men have served as pipe majors for the regiment since then, Including Donald MacKinnon, Duncan McGregor, Rob Irvin, Colin Hill, Alan Clark, and Aaron Olsen. Pipe Major Tom Fox has been leading the regiment since 2006.