Scout House In Small Town Parade

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Preston Scout House Band, of Cambridge, Ontario will be returning to its small town roots on Saturday August 3 by marching in the Mildmay – Carrick Homecoming Parade, an event much like those held in small towns throughout the 1940s as the band was evolving from the 1st Preston Boy Scout Troop bugle band into one of North America’s most popular and widely imitated drum and bugle corps.

Mildmay, a community of about 5,000 located at the base of the Bruce Peninsula in southwestern Ontario, is known as the Lamplighter Village for its annual lighted night Christmas parade, which has been chosen the best winter lights event in its division in Canada-wide competition.

Scout House is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the organization’s founding, when Preston was also a small town of about 5,000. Members of the 1st Preston troop began practicing in the fall of 1938 on instruments purchased with the help of $250 donated by local industrialist P. R. Hilborn: 10 bugles, two side drums and a bass drum. The band’s first performance took place in Preston’s Riverside Park in June 1939.

During World War II, the band marched tirelessly in local parades, including weekly church parades that eventually produced the distinctive Scout House marching style, knees high and arms swinging to shoulder level at a cadence that was comfortable for the WRENS (Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service) they were escorting. The WRENS were based at HMCS Conestoga, the only “ship” in the Royal Canadian Navy commanded by a woman. HMCS Conestoga training centre was actually a collection of buildings once used as the Ontario Training School for Girls in the adjacent town of Galt.

Throughout the war years, Scout House marched in about 40 parades annually, most of them in or close to Preston. When the Band performed outside Preston, members traveled on the back of a Cherry Mills Flour truck, often arriving at the parade site with a light dusting of flour on their uniforms.

By 1947, Scout House had marched in more than 400 small town parades. The Band’s first international tour began on July 29, 1947 when 45 members climbed aboard a big green highway bus to start a 1,400-mile tour including performances in Buffalo, Syracuse and Boy Scout Camp Yawgoog in Rockville, Rhode Island.

When Scout House Band began performing again in 1999, the first road trip was also to Buffalo, to participate in a Labour Day parade. Since then the Band has performed in more than 400 concerts, parades and field shows in Ontario, Quebec and 10 American states. After a two-week break, the Mildmay parade is the first event in a schedule that that has Scout House performing weekends through late September.

The highlight of the Band’s anniversary year summer schedule will be the 4th annual Scout House Invitational Tattoo, at University Stadium in Waterloo, Ontario on Saturday, August 10. The Tattoo line up includes Caballeros Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps of Hawthorne, New Jersey; Les Diplomates du Quebec Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps of Quebec City, Quebec; Mighty St. Joe’s Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps of LeRoy, New York; Empire Statesmen Drum and Bugle Corps of Rochester, New York; Optimists Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps of Toronto, Ontario; Teen Tour Band of Burlington, Ontario; Preston Scout House Alumni Band and Preston Scout House Cadets youth drum line.

Members of other groups have been invited to participate in the Tattoo’s special section performances, including Durham Girls alumni in the massed horn line rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone and provincial champion M. M. Robinson High School drum line of Burlington participating in the drum line standard Three Camps.

Other August events on the Scout House schedule include the Optimists’ Legends of Drum Corps 5 field show in Oshawa, the Dundas Cactus Festival Parade, Empire Statesmen’s field show in Rochester. Scout House will appear in Annapolis, Maryland on Labour Day weekend, the 11th time since 2002 that the Band has been featured in the Alumni Spectacular field concert that marks the final weekend of Drum Corps Associates (DCA) summer competition.

For more information about Scout House Band, contact Activities Director Nancy Weiler at telephone (519) 653-3376, email prestonscouthouseband [dot] adm [at] sympatico [dot] ca or visit the Web site at

Information about Preston Scout House Cadets is available from Jim Pratt at: kusankusho [at] hotmail [dot] com

Posted by on Thursday, July 25th, 2013. Filed under Current News, DCA News, FrontPage Feature.