Band to Holland
The 1954 KHS Band to Holland celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2004 at the Kam High Centennial Homecoming. The Band to Holland was a selected group of students from the 1954 KHS Band.
Under the direction of Mr. Nelson McMurdo the Kamloops High School Band was developing a reputation for excellence. In 1952, the band became Dominion Intermediate Champions at the Waterloo Band Festival. In 1954, the band was the only band from North America to be invited to take part in the World Music in Kerkrade Holland. The festival included top-flight instrumental and choral groups from around the world, many of them professionals.
Because it was impossible for the entire band to make the trip, a group of 52 band members 18 girls and 34 boys were selected to join Mr. McMurdo, Mrs. McMurdo, Miss Dorothy McMurdo and Mr. Morse on the trip of a lifetime.
The cost of the trip was $30,000 a huge amount in 1954 equivalent to $223,000 today especially in a town the size of Kamloops (population approximately 13,000). The Kiwanis Club created the Kiwanis Kamloops High School Band to Europe Fund and organized many fund raising activities over the months leading up to the trip. Through countless individual, business and government donations the goal was finally reached. Most notable of the donations were $5,000 from the Province of British Columbia, $1,000 from the Rotary Club and $1,000 from the City of Kamloops. Most notably (and annoyingly) absent from the list of benefactors was the Government of Canada.
The group started on their journey on board the CPR train on Friday July 2, 1954. During the two months they were away the band travelled over 18,000 miles and played over 72 concerts. The following calendar chronicles the trip as reported by "foreign correspondents" Kay Strong and Barbara Howard and as reported in the Kamloops Sentinel. Special thanks to Rae McMorran and Gloria Martino for providing many of the photos presented here. Place your cursor over the photo for details.
Week 1: July 5 to 11 Kamloops to Montreal
On Monday the CPR train pulled out of Kamloops Junction heading north on its way across Canada to Montreal where the trip would continue by sea.
At Winnipeg on Wednesday night we were very well received by the members of the Kiwanis Club and box suppers were given to all the band members. Glenda Lamb, Jennie Yuskiw, Joan and Mary Ann Ellis had relatives down to see them.
Thursday was an uneventful day, playing at Hornpayne and Capreal. Everywhere we play the people are really interested and the "dope pills" have been widely distributed. (The "dope pills" were tiny drug-sized capsules stuffed with a piece of paper containing all the "dope" on the city of Kamloops.)
The cars are very quiet but it is noticed that quite a few boys are regular visitors to the girls' car in our visiting hours 2 to 6. Franklin Arthur keeps us entertained with his singing and his guitar, and the "Rhythm Kids" have also been holding jam sessions.
So far there have been no serious casualties but Larry Humphrey and Marilyn McLellan have been keeping our nurse, Dorothy McMurdo, busy with their nosebleeds and Gerry Scott felt a little under the weather yesterday. However all seem to be in top shape for sailing today.
Truth Savage gave us the laugh of our lives last night as she tried to swallow the Gravol pills that just wouldn't seem to go down. She finally decided that she'd rather be seasick. (We've been taking those pills for 24 hours before sailing time.)
6 a.m. Oh, what a time, but we had to be up and ready to get out of our cars by eight for the members of the Ottawa Kiwanis Club to come and meet us. When they arrived (it was 10 a.m.). they took us to the Chateau Laurier where we left our instruments. We were then taken on a conducted tour of the Parliament Buildings.
Following the tour we had lunch as guests of the Kiwanis at the Chateau Laurier. One or two members sat with the Kiwanis Club members and they made us feel much at home. After the meal we played a few numbers and they were amazed at our ability. They were very proud that the youngest branch of the Kiwanis Club (our own Kamloops group) had undertaken such a large project and made such a success of it.
After lunch we were given free time to shop and look around till 4:30. We gave out the dope capsules and the people were really friendly and interested in our activities. We were very proud to think that such a beautiful and clean city is our Capital. We then spent a restful hour on the train traveling to Montreal. We were again greeted by photographers and newspapermen. Pictures were taken of the whole band and group pictures. Vicki Martin's picture was in a Montreal paper giving dope pills to a Montreal girl. We played a few numbers in the station, the at last, supper. We walked a few blocks to a restaurant and on the way "dope pills" were given out again. Montrealers were in a whirl of wonder as the 52 of us walked up the street but we're getting used to people trying to read the badges on our berets.
We were really thrilled at the way the Montrealers, including the former Beth Home, Alan Young, and Verna Abear came down to see us, and it was wonderful to see a few familiar faces again.
When we got home (back to the cars) we packed and went to bed as we were staying Montreal all night. We woke at the unearthly hour this morning of 5:50 to finish our packing and eat our breakfast before the train pulls out.
Excitement is now mounting as we make ready to leave for Quebec to board the SS Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt.
Immediately after arriving on the ship we took our baggage down to our cabins, 401 for the girls and 403 and 405 for the boys. We were then called up on deck the aft sun deck to have our pictures taken. After that we just looked around the ship and got our things in order. We went down to dinner on the first ship and found that the meals on the Dutch ship lived up to their reputation. The service was wonderful. The stewards really give you the impression that they enjoy waiting on you. Later came the long-awaited moment we finally had facilities for showers. Shortly after Mr. McMurdo called a meeting where we received instructions and the first order was "Get to bed" which we did. Of course, there was the usual talking but with everyone so tired it wasn't long before everyone was quiet.
Sunday On the St. Lawrence
We got up at 6:30 for breakfast at 7:00. We all dressed up for Sunday breakfast but on ordinary mornings we are allowed to wear slacks. The beautiful day brought out the cameras it seems half the film of Kamloops was on the "Oldenbarnevelt." Film services prepare for a rush!
Protestant and Catholic services for the passengers and band members were held. Although they were in Dutch, small parts were given in English. After the church services, the band discovered the swimming pool and thoroughly explored it. Franklin Arthur entertained us on his guitar, while we were sunning on the sports deck.
One of the band members looked out on the gulf and saw sprays of water which seemed to be whales, but which turned out to be a school of porpoises. We were now getting out on the ocean and still taking Gravol pills, and a few felt woozy in the night.
Week 2: July 12 19 Life on the Ocean Waves
Monday, July 12 Somewhere on the Atlantic
We really loafed today. We slept till eight and then made a mad dash for breakfast. We started our daily band practice, a two hour drill from nine to eleven. We practice in the main verandah which was crowded with passengers. After practicing, some wandered around, some went to the cabins to clean and others chose an hour's sleep before lunch. After lunch the usual activities went on: swimming, ping-pong and cards. If the lower sitting room was empty, a few of the kids would go down there to practice. At four o'clock we had a boat drill. Seven bells were rung and everyone took his life belt and went to his assigned position at a life boat. Then they were checked and that was all. It seems rather simple. We sure hope we don't have to do the real thing in the night.
There was supper and then after we went to a dance. Between dances, Dick, Knowles, Ben Burnham and Bob Wanless walked around with their cameras taking everyone's picture and looking like press agents. The Rhythm Kids played and were thoroughly enjoyed by all passengers at the dance. They were all disappointed that they had to stop at 10:30 for the 11 o'clock lights out. However, their pleas could not swerve Mr. McMurdo.
Tuesday, July 13 Still Somewhere on the Atlantic
There was the usual mad dash for breakfast which was followed by the two-hour practice. We ate lunch and then spent the afternoon playing on the sports deck or writing letters. Because of icebergs we are, forced to take a more southern route and will be a day or so late getting into Southampton. There was a show in the evening-"Every Girl Should Be Married," which was very good but most of us had seen it a few years ago. There were Dutch subletters for the benefit of the Dutch passengers. We are now getting to know more people onboard and for sure they are getting to know us.
Wednesday, July 14 Halfway Across the Atlantic
The early morning sun made getting up a pleasure and this made possible a more leisurely breakfast. After our practice most of us went up to the sun deck and really got beautiful TANS? After lunch we went back to the sun deck till four o'clock at which time we gave a concert on the sports deck. Every one seemed to enjoy it very much even in addition to the early morning practices. After such a warm and lazy day the moon rose over a Hollywood version of a Caribbean cruise on a calm black sea.
Thursday, July 15 Still Keeping Afloat
This was one morning where we could sleep in if we didn't mind missing breakfast which was served only till nine. The ship's staff had a party for the small children on the verandah where we usually practiced. The weather was a disappointment from the day before. The fog was so thick that the water could barely be seen from the deck. This weather kept us inside. The old experience chess player Ron Lister (he's been playing for three days) was giving a few lessons in spite of the fact that Suyeka Yoshida beats him every time. In the evening some went to a dance while some listened to Peter, one of the stewards play the guitar. It was bed time before we knew it.
Friday, July 16 Getting Closer to Europe
We rose and ate breakfast and then practiced till 11. By then the fog had lifted a little but the sea was rough. The ship swayed from side to side-at times we though we would tip right over, but none of the crew seemed very worried. There wasn't much done during the day although several are quite expert ping-pong, chess, and "Scat" players now. Johnston Pinchback is still taking two showers a day (we guess, he still can't get over the train trip). In the evening there was another movie. Most of the kids went but some decided they were too tired and tried to get to bed early.
Saturday, July 17 Getting Near the British Isles
Another day of rushing through breakfast for a practice at nine. All the washing and ironing rooms always seemed to be full of band members with many boys down on their knees begging to get their shirts and pants pressed. At 5:45 the Captain gave a special farewell message with special mention of the Band for providing so much entertainment. The farewell supper was wonderful. The menu consisted of tomato soup, steak, beans and celery, then chicken, chips and salad. The stewards brought down the dessert in darkness with covered lamps on their trays, marching to the music of the ship's trio. It was most impressive. We said fare-wells to the waiters and gave them their tips. It was then we realized how many friends we had made while aboard and we are certainly looking forward to seeing them again.
Band members attended the farewell dance for a while but had to leave early to be in bed by eleven BY ORDER!
Sunday, July 18 We Sighted England
We were in the midst of packing and trying to write this report. We played a short concert this afternoon and observed many small fishing craft. We get off the boat at Southampton at tomorrow morning.
Week 3: July 19 25
Monday, July 19
Monday was the day we landed in Southampton. We awoke early for we had to go through the customs by six a.m. We ate breakfast and of course at this time there were farewells to all the stewards.
When we landed at the docks we saw the Queen Mary docked just over form us what an amazing size for a boat!
When we got off the boat we went straight to London. You can imagine what a scramble it was when 52 of us are herded off the boat and onto a train. We feel sorry for Mr. Morse and Mr. McMurdo for every time we move a block they have to count us. It is so easy to get lost over here.
From the station we charted busses to our respective hotels. After getting settled we were given the rest of the day to site-see. It was a beautiful day in London and this made 10 Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Buildings, Clarence House, Hyde Park and the Palace appear at their best.
Rolls of film were taken and a few of the members even got Winston Churchill as he was leaving his home. We noticed distinctly that there was more reserve with the English people but they have been very kind to us.
Tuesday, July 20
Also, it is a rare thing for a man to whistle at a girl going down the street!! On Tuesday the girls moved over to the boys' hotel so that we could be more central. As there was a mix-up in plans the boys had already left the Mansion House and the girls were an hour late. We were immediately whisked over and met our member at B.C. House and the Lord Mayor's wife.
The Lord Mayor was attending a trial and arrived late as we were enjoying some refreshments. Also there were 20 army cadets from all over Canada who were there for shooting trials.
The Lord Mayor spoke to us for a few moments about his duties and then we played for him in the Mansion House Court yard.
Pictures were taken by the Press and some lovely single ones of John MacLeod, Truth Savage and Alan Fisher were developed for the papers.
We were again given the rest of the day off to observe the sights, reporting back to the hotel at set times.
There are several plays in London, among them "The Moon is Blue."
Wednesday, July 21
We rose early Wednesday morning to catch tube to Paddington Station, and then catch a train to Torquay, a beautiful sea resort on the south coast of England. It was a beautiful trip and we got lovely views of the English countryside. The rolling hills and cottages were just a picture. Torquay has a lovely shore and the resort and the hotels rise up the cliffs. We played a concert in the pavillion and then had to leave for London right away.
The house (where we played) was very small containing only 100 people.
Thursday, July 22
Thursday was another beautiful day. Many went down to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It really was something to see. The uniforms of the House Guards, the band and the guards are so colorful.
In the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. McMurdo took us on a scheduled trip to the London Zoo. It was a very enjoyable trip. Bed time came early 9 p.m. as everyone was very tired by the time we reached home.
Friday, July 23
Getting up before 9 a.m. as breakfast at the hotel ended about 10, we were given the morning off to shop and do some washing and visiting.
As we hadn't had a practice for such a long time, Mr. McMurdo said we were to practice quietly from 1 to 3 p.m. We were to blow through the instruments and not make a sound. This was not done. It sounded like a mad house. Different music from different instruments just doesn't match.
We had free time till 6 p.m. and then there was a meeting at which we were told we had free time till 9:30 p.m. This was an early bed time but we had to be up early.
On the whole we had enjoyed London very much. The weather has been perfect, our hotel very nice: radios and telephones in each room, a lovely TV lounge, and a music trio in the lobby.
Tomorrow we leave for Southend. Mrs. McMurdo and Dorothy left today to secure billets in Glasgow.
Saturday, July 24
We arrived in Scotland at 7:00 a.m. On the journey north we enjoyed the scenery very much. Practically all the fields are bordered with stone hedges. There is quite a difference in the colour of the landscape compared to Kamloops. They say Ireland is greener, but I don't see how you can get anything any greener than Scotland.
Mrs. McMurdo and Dorothy met us in Glasgow. They had been sent ahead to arrange billets for us. When we arrived we found we were all billeted together at a secondary school called "Holyrood School."
At the school we found out that there were French boys and English boys there too. It was quite a big school, there were laundry rooms and shower rooms both of which we were thankful for. The French and English boys were here on education tours so that meant they were travelling quite a lot.
To end the day we played a short concert in the school yard, after which we went to bed because we were tired from the long trip.
Sunday, July 25 School Yard Concert
As breakfast was at nine, we were up at a reasonable hour. After breakfast we went down to the gym and had a short practice. When we were at the practice, the Reverend Robert Dougall came over and invited us to come to church. We played a few hymns for him then after he left we got ready for church. There were 42 of us at church. We found out after church that the minister wanted us to play in the church but we weren't given any notice so we couldn't.
We had dinner then we were given time off until tea, which was at 6 p.m. Most of the kids went window shopping or touring. We found everyone in Scotland very friendly there were some small boys, about nine or 10 years of age who kept coming over and wanting to show us all around.
We had tea then fooled around -some in the gym, some practicing and some just looking until supper. We went to bed about 9:30 but didn't get to sleep until quite a bit later.
Week 4: July 26 August 1
Monday, July 26 Glasgow Town Tour
Arose early for breakfast then some of us made a mad dash for downtown, because we just had the morning to shop for in the afternoon, we went on a conducted tour of Glasgow.
After dinner the bus came for us about 2 p.m. During the tour we saw the River Clyde and all the ship building machinery. We went through the art gallery. There was one painting there that astounded everyone it was a painting of Christ on the Cross. It was a different view. It was as if you were looking down on the Cross and could see all the world below. There was also an impression that there was a light shining on the Cross. It was the most beautiful painting we had ever seen.
Our next stop was the Glasgow cathedral. We got out and went through the church. It was very old and when you were down in the crypts it gave you an eerie feeling. Up on the hill behind the cathedral there was a large graveyard. I have never in all my life seen such monuments some of them were 75 to 100 feet high. It was unbelievable to think that that was a cemetery.
We saw the Duke Street Prison and the "snob hill" of Glasgow. After the tour we had tea and then fooled around until supper, then went to bed.
Tuesday, July 27 Teasing on Weather
We were up early and had breakfast for today we were to tour the River Clyde. We got into a bus that took us to the dock, where we received box lunches. We climbed aboard our boat Queen Mary II and then it started to rain, but we started out anyhow. It wasn't a very nice day but nevertheless we enjoyed it. Mr. McMurdo certainly got a teasing about the weather. From the boat we saw a lot of the ship building going on and also a number of American destroyers. It was too bad it had to rain for if it hadn't we could have enjoyed the trip so much more. We didn't get home until about eight so we were dismissed and told to be in by 10.
There is one thing that we are all a little hurt and disappointed at and that is the fact that everyone thinks we are Yanks. It's not that we don't like Americans, but we are proud of Canada and want to show that we are.
Wednesday, July 28 A Wonderful Day
This was one of the most wonderful days so far. We arose early and ate breakfast in the school to be able to catch the chartered bus to Mr. McMurdo's home town Catrine. Although it is only about an hour's drive away, we took a long route which enabled us to sight see the more southern part of the country. We first observed Ailsa Craig from which all the curling rocks are made. We then journeyed on to Ayre where we played a short concert. The Scottish people are so very friendly and we distributed many post cards and dope pills there. The press was also present. We ate our box lunches in a lovely little park by the sea. From there we went to Robbie Burns' cottage. It has been preserved perfectly and was very impressive. Journeying on we went through the home town of Mrs. George Beveridge's brother. Catrine is very small and very old.
We were royally received however, and we certainly saw Scotch hospitality at its peak. We played a short concert in the street and then were given a few hours to "look around." An old friend of Mr. McMurdo's took many of us to see the house where he and Mr. McMurdo lived just after they were married. Everywhere we went the people stopped and talked to us. One couple invited Glenda Lamb, Gloria Allan, John Ellis, Bill Jones, Alex Drdul and Les Davoren in for tea.
We were given a lovely banquet in the hall we played in which was produced by Mr. McMurdo's sisters with the help of many more. In the evening we gave our concert to a packed house with about the same number turned away. They were the most appreciative audience we have played for and the band really enjoyed playing for them. We played Handel's "Dead March in Saul" in memory of Mary Nelson and John McMurdo our conductor's parents. After we were served tea and it was quite a while later that the crowd let Mr. McMurdo through to leave. Just before we pulled out they all sang "Will Year No' Come Back Again" and many band members were thinking that if they ever do get a chance to come back Catrine will certainly be visited.
Thursday, July 29
Thursday was our shopping day. After eating breakfast everyone rushed down town as everyone found Glasgow a much nicer shopping place than London. Every souvenir shop must have been bought out by the looks of the dormitories as everyone unloaded their purchases. Clothes on the whole are much cheaper and nearly everyone was sporting a new outfit of some kind. Mrs. McMurdo and Dorothy have been wonderful in going down town with the girls and helping them pick out their clothes. We had to be back early to go over to Kelvinggrove Park to play a concert. Despite the rainy weather and chilliness we had quite a good crowd although the band practically froze playing. After we had tea to warm up and then it was time for bed.
Friday, July 30 Highland Trip Cancelled
After breakfast it seemed to nearly everyone that it was a good day to do his washing as our trip to the Highlands was cancelled. If you could see the boys washing their shirts you would be laughing. They were so conscientious to make sure they get every spec of dirt off. In the afternoon many went to finish their shopping or swimming. We have adopted several of the Scottish children who hang around the school hoping to talk to the CANADIANS. We had to be back by four and practice till six. After tea we went over to Queen's Park to play another concert. Again the weather was against us but we still drew a fairly large crowd. Everyone was thrilled to hear us and said we must have been good to get a crowd as we did on such a night. We went back to Holyrood for tea and started clearing the gym for the dance the next night.
Saturday, July 31 Leader's Happy Birthday
Another memorable day! Mr. McMurdo's birthday. In the morning we finished clearing and decorating the gym. In the afternoon the local golf course, theatres and pools were visited. At supper Ralph Collins and Les Davoren brought in two immense cherry pound cakes, iced and decorated with candles. We all sang "Happy Birthday" to Mr. McMurdo and he cut and distributed the cake to us and the French boys who are staying with us. A show was then given in the lecture room for us. Two educational films on Glasgow and one Abbot and Costello! A bagpiper then arrived and piped us into the dance hall where the music was supplied by our own Rhythm Kids. The English and French boys and the Scotch girls who were invited to even numbers up made it a "dance of Nations." Here we presented Mr. McMurdo with an engraved silver tray, each band member having donated 14 shillings.
The following inscription was on it "To Mr. McMurdo on his birthday from the Band to Holland, July 31, 1954". He was very pleased. Later we hope to sign the back and get all our names engraved on it. They had a dance so that all the Canadian boys had to sit down so the girls could dance with the English and French boys as there was a serious girl shortage. We certainly found a difference in the dancing. The pipers piped some highland numbers and they showed us how to dance to them. At the close we all joined hands while the pipers played some songs and the people sang, closing with "Auld Lang Syne." We noticed how the Scotch people enjoy singing and how lovely their music is. This ended our stay.
Sunday, August 1 Back to London
The hotel we stayed at in London was very close to the previous one so we had little difficulty in finding our way around again.
Week 5: August 2 8
Monday, August 2
The first morning we went to the famous B.B.C. studios. After practicing from 10 in the morning to 4 p.m. we played over the world network. We had the thrill of having Dr. Charles O'Neil listening to us play his own composition, Sovereignty. This practice, incidentally, did wonders for us in getting our instruments far more in tune. In the evening we had free time till 10.
Tuesday, August 3
We were allowed to sleep in and it really felt wonderful. After a short meeting at 12, we were free to get our final views of the largest city in the world. Trafalgar Square and Picadilly Circus seemed to be the favorites and band members could be seen everywhere in these spots.
Wednesday, August 4 A Trip up the Thames
We took a trip up the Thames River which was arranged for us free of charge by the Lord Mayor of London. The day was perfect and the trip through the Royal Docks where boats from all over the world could be seen loading their cargos, was a spectacle that would long be remembered. We enjoyed a lovely meal aboard the St. Catherine, and then home to pack for the continent.
Thursday, August 5 To the Continent
This was perhaps the most tiring day of all. We rose at 6:30 a.m. and boarded a subway, changing three times to get to Liverpool Station. There we caught a train for Harwich where we boarded the boat. It was not a large boat and very crowded although the meals were nice. We landed at the Hook of Holland about 6 p.m. and had to go through the customs. From here we boarded a train, having to load our luggage on and off at Rotterdam, Erwich, and Herleen. At this last stop the R.C.A.F. was the most welcome sight. They loaded our luggage onto their trucks and took us into Kerkrade where we were received by the Dutch people and taken into their homes. They were very good to us
Friday, August 6 Touring Kerkrade
After letting us sleep in they took up to view the city we had heard so much about, for so long. It was a very pretty spot with narrow streets and a large market place in the centre of the town. The city hall and the festival grounds are picturesque. The Burgemeister welcomed us but he is very unlike what we had pictured him to be. Most of the inhabitants here work in the coal mines which are situated near the town. It is crowded and very gay during the festival time. The people over here seem to celebrate more openly with dancing and singing. We were in bed early however so we could be ready for an early start the next morning for Baden-Baden, Germany
Saturday, August 7 To R.C.A. F. No. 4 Fighter Wing Base
Well, we were on the move again. We met at Rutten Market in Kerkrade at 8:30 a.m. where the R.C.A.F. busses picked us up. The reason for our early start was that we had a very long journey ahead of us. We had to reach R.C.A.F. No. 4 Fighter Wing Base for supper. During this trip we saw many of their farms and countrysides and also many bombed-out places. We also stopped at the Eagle Club for lunch which is a large and beautiful American Army base.
When we arrived at No. 4 Wing we were surprised to see how well layed out it was. It was just like a small town, complete with swimming pools, gymnasium and threatre. They had the show "Hans Christian Andersen" for us that evening and as we were all so tired from travelling it was very relaxing to go to the show.
Sunday, August 8 Baden Baden and Buhl
Breakfast, just like home, was served to us the following morning at 8. At 10 we packed up to go into Baden-Baden where we played a concert at an outdoor bandstand to about 3000 people. After, we were taken on a tour of the Casino which is the second largest and the most beautiful in the world. The interior is amazing, with beautiful chandeliers and murals. The different rooms are decorated in different periods of furniture, for example Louis XII, XIII, XVI. Many celebrities have attended this casino and we were shown where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor played. In the afternoon the lifeguard of the base was good enough to give up his day off so that we might go swimming in their "terrific" swimming pool. In the evening we went to Buhl where we played a concert to an immense audience. They were very appreciative and later they presented Mr. McMurdo with flowers. The Burgemeister took our complete party out to a cafe after and gave us souvenir booklets of the town.
Week 6: August 9 to 15
Monday, August 9- Rastatt
Early in the morning we were taken down to the airfield to watch a "Jet Scramble." Then they took six members, Jennie Yuskiw, Rae McMorran, Carol Jones, Gerry Scott, Gordon Blackwell and Larry Grant on a tour of the hangers. At noon we played a concert at the base. In the afternoon, we practiced and bought souvenirs at the base's PX. Everything in the base is exceptionally cheap, e.g. cigarettes are 10 cents a package. At night we journeyed to Rastatt where we performed before another excellent crowd. More flowers were presented to Mr. McMurdo. Something different in our concerts is that we have to have an interpreter to announce our pieces. The Germans seem as fond of Canadians as the other countries we have been in, and it certainly has made us stop and think how lucky we are.
Tuesday, August 10 Zweibrucken
This morning we woke in drizzling rain to play for the guard of honor, Sir Basil Emery, a well know British Air Man who is A.O.C. United Nations in Europe. At 11 o'clock we played a concert for the base and then we boarded a bus for Zweibrucken. On the way we saw parts of the Siegfried line which was bombed by the Americans. We were first taken to the city hall and were given an official welcome by their burgemeister. His speech had to be interpreted twice but it was very nice. In the evening we played a concert in the Rosengardens but near the end it just poured and we were forced to finish early. The gardens are very lovely with a beautiful pond, fountain and swans. After we had coffee and sandwiches to warm up and oiled our instruments, put our uniforms in the cleaners and then went to a party in the W.D. lounge until 11 o'clock.
Wednesday, August 11 Grostenquin
We were supposed to leave this morning for the second flight wing at 9 a.m. but due to the rain we had last night during the concert our uniforms were not ready. As a result we had free time until 10:30. Most of the kids fooled around in the gym playing basketball and badminton. At 10:30 we reported at the tailor's shop for our uniforms and then played a concert at 11:30 at the base for the men. We ate lunch at 1. We certainly have enjoyed the food here. The coffee is just like home. At 1:30 we loaded the busses for No. 2 Wing in Grostenquin, France and arrived there at 4:30 p.m. We heard that a jet plane had been lost; everyone at the base was feeling quite glum of course. They said that a farmer had seen a parachute so there was a search party out looking for the 19-year-old pilot, unfortunately he was not found alive. When we heard this we were told not to talk about it but forget and help forget. After this incident we put all we had in our concert to try and help everyone. They enjoyed the concert very much and it put everyone in good spirits, so we felt that we had been able to do something for those who were doing so much for us. There was to be a reception for us afterwards and since we were leaving early in the morning we had something to eat and went to bed.
Thursday, August 12 On to Kerkrade
We left the base and headed toward Kerkrade. Along the trip we stopped at Metz, the No. 1 Division. We played and marched for about one-half hour and they supplied cokes for us in the lounge. The trumpet players however remained behind to have the honor of playing the Air Force salute for the Honorable George Drew, leader of the opposition in Canada. We were all very thrilled to think that it was our band that was there to play for him. We stopped for only one hour as we wanted to get to Kerkrade fairly early. The rest of the day was spent travelling except for a stop in Belgium for lunch, and the odd little stops now and then. We reached Kerkrade at 7:30 p.m. and our billets were down to meet us. Being so tired from travelling we went straight home to bed.
Friday, August 13 Concerts in Kerkrade
We were asked to help entertain the children of Kerkrade by participating in a concert for them on Friday morning. We played a few numbers for them along with an organist. Then they in return sang some songs in Dutch for us. After the concert we were given the afternoon off to do as we wished. Some went shopping, others went home to sleep and still others to wash clothes. That afternoon the two reporters, Mr. Morse and Mrs. McMurdo gave a world interview. They asked questions on the history of the band and on pieces we played. At 8 p.m. we played a concert for the people of Kerkrade. We felt that it was one of the best concerts that the band had ever played. This pleased us as we wanted to thank the people of Kerkrade for all they had done for us, and this seemed to be the best way. The Canadian ambassador was present at the concert and later he told us how proud he was of us and shook hands with every band member. The concert ended about 10 p.m. and it was home to bed as there was the festival the next day.
Saturday, August 14 The Big Day
It was the big day. We weren't as nervous as we thought probably because we couldn't believe that the day was really here. We were told to report to the festival hall at 4 p.m. We had to sit and listen to the other bands but at last our turn came. It seemed like such a long time before we could play. When our turn finally came it was not our best perhaps because we were a bit too anxious. We were all disappointed and thought that it was the end. We waited around for a while and at supper time we left not knowing the results. We were down town in a cafe when one of the band members came running in saying that we had won. The cafe became a riot room. We were all astounded and happy. Even though we had won we couldn't stay up and celebrate we had to march the next day. It was just as well we could not stay up and wander around as it was pouring rain. We all slept better that night as the tenseness was gone and the day we had thought about and looked forward to for so long had been a success.
Sunday, August 15 The Marching Contest
It wasn't just another day, it was the day of the marching contest. We were all a little amused at us going into a marching contest since we had not had much practice. After we had marched Mr. McMurdo said that we had done very well. Our pace was the closest to the 120 mark on the metronome and believe us our lines had never been as straight. For the final judgment the bands all marched together. When they announced the winner it was in Dutch so we couldn't understand. Mr. Morse and Dot signalled us as we marched by. We have never been so surprised in all our lives. In the afternoon we went to Brunson to play a concert. We marched through the streets to the band stand. After the concert we were given a supper by the people and were welcomed by the burgermeister. The money made at the concert went to the crippled children fund. We went to bed early that night as we got very little sleep the next night.
Week 7: August 16 to 22
Monday August 16 Goodbye to Kerkrade
We had to report at 9:45 this morning to play for the world broadcasting. We played two 15-minute programs. Mary Ann Ellis as the youngest member of the band, announced one of the pieces. In the afternoon we played at a Catholic old people's home and the priest presented Mr. McMurdo with a basket of flowers, lamp and a lighter with the imprint of the city hall of Kerkrade on it. They also presented each band member with a flower. We were given from 3 to 6 to say goodbye to our billets. At 6 p.m. we left and went straight to Neimegan. We were to play a concert in Acken, Germany but it was cancelled. We arrived at 11 p.m. and had a late supper and back to the busses to spend the night.
August 17 to 25 Sailing Home
After sleeping in the bus every one was ready to rise at 6 and get the stiffness out of our bones. We then drove out to the cemetery and played a few hymns, O Canada, the Last Post, and the Reveille. It was a very beautiful spot and all the graves had flowers growing on them. After we went back to have breakfast and then on to the boat. We had very nice Dutch drivers from Amsterdam. The boat seemed like home to us and it was wonderful to see the familiar faces of the stewards again. Everyone dashed in for a shower as soon as we got there as most of the Dutch people did not have hot water in their homes.
The chess and card games are being carried on but without the previous enthusiasm. This trip has been much more quite as we are so tired and eager to get home. Today is two days before we dock and we are playing our second concert and tonight is the Captain's Dinner. We heard that we will site land today so everyone is making frequent trips to the deck to see if they can get a glimpse of the Maritimes.
This trip has been something beyond that of which we had imagined because we did not know what to imagine. However we think that the group of individuals coming home will be much more mature minded about other people than before.
Week 8: August 23 to 29
Thursday, August 26 Back in Canada
At 10 this morning we disembarked from the Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt in spite of the fact that we were getting nearer home we were a bit sorry to leave the Johan.
Our rising hour this morning was 5 o'clock. Breakfast was from 6 to 8, and we had to get to breakfast for the first sitting as we had to go through immigration as we were Canadian citizens. At Southampton we thought it was a muddle getting off because there were 300 of us getting off. At Quebec there were 1400 of us getting off. It was a fair sized bedlam. Once on shore we had to go through customs again. This time it might have meant unpacking but fortunately not one of us had to unpack not that we had anything to hide.
It was well after noon hour when we boarded the "good old coaches." We were lucky it was that early as Mintz Goto couldn't find his luggage. After a frantic search he found it.
About 2:30 p.m. the boat, train and us headed for Montreal. We arrived in at Montreal in time for supper. At the station to meet us were the Kiwanis Club of Montreal and the Pepsi Cola Company. The Pepsi Cola Company took us to dinner. We thought the boat meals were good but this topped them all. There was a fruit salad with celery and olives, soup with buns, a main course of roast beef, beans, and potatoes. Desert was ice cream, cream puffs and whipped cream, and of course we had Pepsi Cola to drink.
After the dinner the Company presented us with Pepsi Cola bags. They were made of heavy plastic with insulated sides for carrying and keeping Pepsi cold. We were all very surprised and thrilled. All of us girls had used them every day for carrying things and the boys likewise. The banquet over we went back to the station and played a few marches and then hit the hay. During the night we headed or Toronto.
Friday, August 27 Toronto
The Kiwanis Club of downtown Toronto met us and took us for breakfast. Mrs. Christie was there to meet us and she went to breakfast with us. After breakfast they took us on a tour of Toronto. We saw the Varsity and Maple Leaf Stadium, and the University of Toronto. We ended up the tour with lunch at Casa Loma, which is run by the Western Toronto Kiwanis Club.
After the tour through Casa Loma we went back to the trains. We were given the rest of the afternoon off to go to the C.N.E. We saw the Duchess of Kent and her daughter give the opening speech of the C.N.E. We spent the rest of the day wandering through the exhibition and by 9 p.m. we were so tired and broke we came home and flopped in bed. We spent all night in the station it was 8 a.m. before we headed to Niagara.
Saturday, August 28 Niagara
It was almost noon when we reached Niagara Falls and again the Kiwanis club was there to meet us. They took us to lunch and then on a tour of Niagara Falls. We went to the Burning Spring and Tower first. The Burning Spring is a spring of cold water that burns. Although the water is burning it is still cold and drinkable. We went up to the tower where the best view of the American Bridal Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls is. After we saw the whirlpool rapids, the tunnel under the falls and the clock of flowers. These were just a few of the things we saw.
The afternoon was spent on this tour and by supper time we were back at the cars. We had a delicious meal on the train. It was fresh vegetables with bread. For desert we had pie ΰ la mode.
Sunday, August 29 London
We were on the move again, this time heading for London, Ont. We are all looking forward to getting home. We arrived in London about 8 this morning but had to stay around the station until the Kiwanis Club came down to meet us. Leona Richmond was greatly excited because her brother Claude came down to see her from Clinton where he is studying radar with the R.C.A.F.
The Kiwanis took us to a lovely dinner at the London Hotel and from there we went out to a park where we played a concert in the Kiwanis bandshell to a good crowd of people. On hand to greet us was Alyn Taylor and his family. Mr. Taylor was the previous manager of the Hudson's Bay Company in Kamloops. After, the Kiwanis had planned a tour of the city for us but, as it was so hot and we felt so dirty, we went swimming instead. The members of the club were very kind in that they drove us from the shell to the train and to the pools and back.
We ate a cold meal on the train and got back into Toronto about 9. We were allowed off the train for an hour and Den Burham was surprised to see his brother Ross who has just returned from his summer cruises with the Kingston Naval Academy. Other familiar faces down there to see us were Mary Ichii, Mary Wakida and Nora Haywood. The train pulled out at midnight and we were finally heading home.
Week 9: August 30 to September 3
Monday, August 30 Heading Home
We were in the train all day except for a few stops at Nakina Long Lac and Hornpayne to play. While in London, the Kiwanis gave us souvenir booklets and jig saw puzzles which were put to good use. Eating, sleeping, and longing to get home were our main pastimes.
Tuesday, August 31 Winnipeg
We arrived in Winnipeg about 9 on Tuesday morning and Glenda Lamb and Jennifer Yaskiw were met by relatives. Also on hand to greet us was Conrad Van Ingle, our long remembered burgermeister who gave us stamped postcards to send home, Bruce Millar, Mona Millar and Ted Christie who is now in the airforce.
We had an hour to look around then back to the cars. There is no visiting between the cars so we can wear as little as possible to keep as cool as possible. We played a few numbers at Melville and Rivers. We have bon ami writing all over our cars and people all over are interested in where we've been and what we've done.
We've been counting the days for the last couple of weeks but it's down to hours now and there are exactly 74 hours and 33 minutes left.
Wednesday, September 1 Saskatoon
Our day in Saskatoon was very enjoyable. The Kiwanis had arranged for us to swim at the Y.M.C.A. from 9:30 to 11 so we were off to an early start. There were showers there so we were able to get a bit of the dirt off us. At 11 the members of the club picked us up and took us to the Saskatoon museum. It consists mainly of early cars, tractors and wagons used by the pioneers and it proved very interesting. After lunch we were guests of the Capitol Theatre to see "Three Coins in a Fountain." We originally intended to tour the city but due to the weather the tour was cancelled.
After a delicious steak dinner with the members of the Kiwanis as our hosts, we played a concert in the park. We played the Dutch national anthem for any immigrants and we met two girls who had just come from Kerkrade a year ago. We boarded the train for Edmonton.
Thursday, September 2 The Final Leg
We spent the day in Alberta's capital by sight seeing and swimming. Everyone is down to strictly window shopping now. In the evening we played a concert in the park across from the station.
Now we are nearly home. We have two months experience that we will be able to talk about for years. For this chance we have firstly to thank the man who made our band what it is, Mr. McMurdo; also Mrs. McMurdo, Dorothy and Mr. Morse who have been wonderful to us throughout the trip.
Secondly we have our Kiwanis Club, who worked so hard to see their project through, and also the Kiwanis Clubs across Canada, who have shown us hospitality at its peak.
Thirdly we thank the citizens of Kamloops who put their faith in us. We'll be home tonight but this trip of 1954 will be a year in our memories.
Friday, September 3 Home at Last!
Half an inch of rain fell over the city on Friday night but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the welcome home of the Kamloops High School Band. No one at the C.P.R. station at the Kamloops Junction was concerned about the rain and the hugging and kissing reception was all that any group of teenagers could ask for.
An estimated 3000 persons travelled the five miles to be in on the excitement, which reached the boiling point when the 18 girls and 34 boys began to step from the train. Color in the greetings was provided by many weird and fancy hats worn by the students, loud black and white check, deep brimmed straws (which were excellent for catching the rain), gay, wide-brimmed calico hats of some of the girls which kept the rain off the face, and many other styles.
Formal welcoming ceremonies cancelled by one of the heaviest downpours of the year, would perhaps have been anticlimactic to the gay and informal welcomes.
The procession back to the city gave an indication of the tremendous crowd at the station. The cars were practically bumper to bumper from the junction to the city for over half an hour.
Mayor J. E. Fitzwater, Mrs. Fitzwater and several parents travelled to Red Pass and Blue River earlier in the day to greet the band.
Saturday afternoon the band showed Kamloops citizens the form that won them first place in the marching contest in Kerkrade. The band marked through the streets of the city from Stuart Wood school to the Memorial Arena where they were welcomed by cheering crowds and the highest dignitaries of the province and city.
The band was welcomed by The Hon. P. A. Gagliardi, minister of works, E. Davie Fulton, member of the Kamloops Federal Riding, Mayor J. E. Fitzwater of Kamloops, George Slater, chairman of the school board, High School Principal W. H. Gurney, and Commissioner Harry Preston representing the villiage of North Kamloops. The chairman of the welcoming committee was Reg Humphreys.
One incident that will vividly stand out in recollections of that night of memories was the surprised look on Mr. McMurdo's face when his back was turned to the band and they suddenly swung into "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." It was one of the rare occasions where the band has played in public without their leader and the gesture which took him unawares brought the audience to its feet as one to sing the words.
The band won the first prize in the first class concert contest. There were six classes in all: one, two, three, four, and two extra classes for semi-professionals, the sublime and the excellent. Kamloops High School band had been registered in the sublime class but when they got to Kerkrade they opted to go down to the first class. In a newspaper report, Jock Morse explained: "If we had entered the sublime class we should have come second and out of all the bands in the contest, no matter which class, it was calculated that we should have come third. I don't think it can be quite appreciated what that means: that the Kamloops Band who are a school band, should have come third out of the world's great bands who were all except one English band adults and semi-professionals like the Queen's Guard Band of Holland."
The band also won first prize in the Marching contest. Describing the marching contest, Mr Morse said he was standing under the grandstand when the Kamloops High School Band went by and the applause went right round the stands containing 30,000 people. "When the band came to a halt there was a gasp from the grandstand. The band looked wonderful with the capes swinging. It was a very simple uniform compared to some who had all kinds of plumes, gold buttons, epaulets and gold braid. It was very effective."
Archie McMurdo started to play the violin at nine years of age in his native villiage of Catrine in Ayrshire. He studied under a German martinet at the Ayr School of Music until World War I, when he joined the Royal Air Force. He flew a Bristol Fighter and between missions he organized and conducted the Royal Air Force orchestra.
In 1919, at the age of 18, young McMurdo went home to Ayr and became involved in a course of mining engineering. It wasn't his cup of tea and at nights he conducted orchestras for variety shows and musical comedies. At that time he organized the First Youth Movement Orchestra in Scotland. In 1927 he came to British Columbia and worked land at Heffley Creek under The Soldier's Settlement Act.
With the advent of the depression, Archie decided that farming was not for him. He packed up and moved to Kamloops to give private lessons in violin, viola and cello. He organized a senior symphony under the sponsorship of the Canadian Legion. The group became the Junior Symphony which two years in a row won the B.C. orchestral championship.
Because of his musical talents, his organizational abilities and the way he worked with young people, the high school decided to add him to their staff as musical director. He was offered the job and accepted in 1935. In July 1940, Archie went overseas to replace another great war-time entertainer Captain Mert Plunkett who was ill. Mr. McMurdo took over where Mert left off. After the war Archie McMurdo stayed in Victoria for several months 'til he was asked by the Kamloops High School to return.
More on Mr. McMurdo's accomplishments can be found in the Staff Hall of Fame pages.
Two years after his triumphant return from the World Music Festival in Holland Mr. McMurdo passed away.
Archie McMurdo's funeral procession passes Kam High where, with the school flag at half mast, the 1000 pupils and their teachers lined the sidewalk for their final tribute.