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#52 George Beley

Wanting to learn the bagpipes while living in Hamilton, George joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada militia regiment. He eventually ended up with a set of pipes he bought from Archie Cairns’ father, John (JK) Cairns. On a move to Brockville to work with the Royal Bank, he joined the city of Brockville Pipe Band and set up a basement room in his home called “The Bagpipe Room”. He taught piping there with his good friend, Judge John Matheson, who was also interested in all things Scottish (John’s children took pipe lessons and taught dance). Matheson’s eldest daughter, Wendy, along with Leslie Fox, taught the highland dancing classes in George’s basement. The dancers became known as the Wee MacGregors and they both paraded with the pipe band and did performances out on their own.

Later returning to Brockville, George was a Branch Manager of the Royal Bank who retired with his wife Irene in an old historic house on King Street . He left the house to Culture Canada as he intended it to be a centre for Scottish Arts but unfortunately there was a loophole in the agreement and it was eventually just sold off. Given all his contributions to the city and surrounding area, however, Brockville honoured him with his own street, Beley Street, in the north of the city near the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area.

Thank you to Graeme Ogilvie for bringing together this story and special thanks to Lezlie Paterson-Webster and Wayne Moug for all their input.

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