Thomas J. Brown (1976 – 2017)

With heavy hearts, the PPBSO Ottawa Branch extends its condolences to the family and friends of Tom Brown, who passed away Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Tom was 40 years old.

Tom was a professional soloist, certified adjudicator, pipe major, and teacher. Upon his appointment as Pipe Major of the Royal Canadian Air Force Pipes and Drums in 2010 (then known as the Air Command Pipes and Drums), the Branch highlighted Tom’s numerous contributions to the piping and drumming community. We invite readers to revisit Tom’s piping life with the following piece from the Branch archives.

Tom will be remembered Saturday, May 20 at Capital Memorial Gardens (3700 Prince of Wales Drive in Ottawa). A visitation (2:00 – 4:00 pm), will be followed by a service and reception.

Our thoughts are with all those who were fortunate enough to know Tom. He will be greatly missed.


Tom Brown judging at the 2017 Ottawa Indoor Highland Games (photo credit: Cindy McGillivray Ritchie).


Thomas J. Brown

Pipe Major Thomas Brown began playing the bagpipes at the age of ten under the tutelage of Alex Birkett in the small town of Kemptville, ON. At age twelve he joined the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Cadet Corps following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Graham A Brown, who was a piper in the Cameron’s during WWII and became P/M from 1947 to 1952. In 1991, Cpl Brown was awarded the Best National Cadet Piper Award (LGen Quinn Award). As a cadet he performed at the Citadel in South Carolina, the Nova Scotia International Tattoo and was a member of the National Army Cadet Pipes and Drums in Banff, AB in 1991 and 1992.

In 1993 Cpl Brown joined the Glengarry Pipe Band Gr 2, under the leadership of Colin MacLellan. In the three years that he was a member, the GPB became the North American Pipe Band Champions, won the PPBSO Championship Supreme, and placed fourth overall in the 1996 World Pipe Band Championships. Cpl Brown joined the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa reserve unit in 1994. That summer he became a member of the Ceremonial Guard. After two years in the regiment he decided to leave and study audio engineering. From 1997 to 2001 he taught at the Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming in Maxville, ON.

Cpl Brown joined the Cadet Instructors Cadre as a Bagpipe instructor for the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Cadet Corps in 1998. The following year he became the piping instructor for the NACPD in Banff, AB and in 2000, the Senior Piping Instructor at Blackdown Army Cadet Training Centre in Borden, ON. Cpl Brown left the CIC in 2001 as a Second Lieutenant.


Pipe Major Sjt. Tom Brown


In 2003, after a short stint as the piper in the Glengarry Bhoys, he became a member of the chart topping Celtic band Gaelic Storm which is best known for their part in the film Titanic as the “steerage band”. Cpl Brown performed on the album “How Are We Getting Home” with Gaelic Storm, which rose to #2 on the Billboard Music Charts – World Category. Cpl Brown left the band in 2006 to further pursue his audio engineering career.

Cpl Brown auditioned for a position as a bagpiper in the Canadian Forces in 2009. In June 2010 he completed basic training in St Jean, QC, was posted to the Central Band in Ottawa, ON and appointed Pipe Major of the Royal Canadian Air Force Pipes and Drums (then known as the Air Command Pipes and Drums) on 20 October 2010.


Tom Brown with the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band in 2015 at the Antigonish Highland Games in Nova Scotia (photo credit: Cindy McGillivray Ritchie).


In subsequent years, Tom was upgraded to the professional solo category, having won numerous Grade 1 prizes. He was also appointed to the Pipers’ and Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s judging panel for piobaireachd and light music. In 2015, he joined the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band (Gr. 1), and competed with the band at the World Pipe Band Championships in August 2016.

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