History Series: Jock (Albert) Stewart was born on 24 January 1927 to a working class family in Aberdeen. When Jock was a young boy, he, along with his parents, lived with his paternal grandmother, Margaret (nee MacDonald) Stewart. Jock learned the pipes from his father, and although too young to enlist for WWII, he joined the British army in 1946 where he played with the Scottish Infantry Training Corps Pipe Band (11th ITC Pipe Band) under the direction of Donald MacLean of Lewis.
Following basic training, in 1948 Jock joined the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders and traveled to Paris, France for post war ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe before being deployed for the Malayan Emergency. Many influential pipers were similarly stationed in Malaya including Col A.G.L. McLean of Pennycross, Lt Col David J.S. Murray, James McIntosh and John T. MacKenzie. Jock also took time from his services to teach a Gurkha regimental pipe band. Several years ago, James McIntosh and Jock were able to meet at his home in St Albert, just outside of Ottawa. Although the two aged pipers had never previously met, they spoke for hours about common friends and pipers and their experiences in both Germany, France and Malaya.
After several years in Bulawayo and Bermuda, Jock moved to Ottawa. Once in Ottawa, Jock played for five years with the Royal Canadian Air Force Pipe Band and served as President of the Ottawa Piping Club. Although Jock stepped back from piping in the 1970s, he continued to teach local pipers such as Ken Garson, Jenny Putinski, Jack Yourt and others.
For those that knew Jock as a piping teacher, he had a wonderful love of the music that he passed onto his students and he was an excellent teacher. In addition, Jock's memory was phenomenal. He could remember people's names long after meeting them, could recall with great detail events from decades before. If you mentioned a tune that he knew, he could immediately hum it to you or play it on his chanter, and would say that he hadn't played it in 50 or 60 years.
Our thanks to Ken Garson and Jack Yourt for their input for writing this article!