Pipe-Major Kirk Charles Johnstone, CD (1949-2013) was
one of the key leaders within the Montreal piping world for over forty years, as a solo piper, pipe-major, reed maker, and perhaps most noted – founding member and President of the Montreal Highland Games.
Kirk grew up in the Montreal suburb of Verdun (aka “Black Watch country”), before he family moved out to the South Shore community of Chateauguay while he was in his teens. He started his piping career in the Black Watch Cadets in the early ‘60s. Within a few years he moved on to the new youth group of the Saint Laurent Pipe Band (StLPB), where he rapidly rose to become one of the Pipe-Sergeants in the
band. Kirk took over as Pipe-Major in 1970, and led the band into re-focusing more on competition than on simply as a parade band. During this period, the band also rebranded itself as the Clan Sutherland Pipe Band, and went from languishing near the bottom of Grade 3 to placing in Grade 2. As part of this more competitive spirit for the band, it was also during this time of the early 70’s that Kirk started going up the road to Ottawa, as a Quebec representative in the fledgling Ottawa Branch of the PPBSO. One result of this association was for the Clan Sutherland band becoming the Grade 3 provincial reps at the inaugural Interprovincial (“InterProv”) Highland Games in Ottawa in 1972.
Our thanks to Douglas MacLeod for writing this article!