Red Deer Royals | History
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The following history is a compilation of research by Michael Dawe, City of Red Deer archivist, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Red Deer Community Band Society and information provided by members of 2011/2012.

The Early Years

2009 marks the 40th anniversary of one of Red Deer’s most famous and successful groups, the Red Deer Community Band Society. This wonderful community organization has fostered music in Red Deer and area for four decades. Its Red Deer Royals Band has won honours, awards and plaudits not only across North America, but also overseas. The Royals have truly become Red Deer’s ambassadors.


The roots of the Community Band Society actually go back more than 100 years. It was in April 1902 that Canon Joshua Hinchliffe, the local Anglican minister and H.G. Stone, the local undertaker, proposed the formation of a Citizen’s Band.


Orvietto-parade-1Red Deer’s newly formed Town Council greeted the proposal enthusiastically and voted $50 to purchase band instruments. This was the first public grant to be made in Red Deer’s history. Also, in case people think that $50 was a modest sum of money, in those days, $2 per day was considered a pretty good wage.


The new band did so well that next year Town Council doubled the grant to $100, thereby allowing the band to buy impressive new uniforms. Following the success of an open air concert on Christmas Day 1903 on what is now City Hall Park, Town Council decided to build a bandstand on the square for future concerts.


DA2777The Citizen’s Band flourished over the next several years. Not only did they give annual Christmas Day concerts in City Hall Park, they also performed regularly both outdoors in the park in the summer time or else in the local Lyric and Empress Theatres at other times of the year.


City Council continued to provide the Band with funds for instruments and uniforms. After the original band shell was moved to the C.P.R. station park on the west end of Ross Street, the City built a new larger bandstand in the middle of City Hall Park in 1917.


However, the post war years were tough years financially for both the City and the Band. By the mid 1920’s the band was barely hanging on. Relief came, in 1925, when the newly formed Red Deer Elks Club agreed to take on sponsorship and the band was soon flourishing once more. By the late 1920’s, there were regular Sunday night concerts in the Crescent Theatre on Ross Street.

The Great Depression of the 1930’s brought new economic hard times and the band really struggled to keep going. In the early 1940’s, at the start of the Second World War, the military band at the new A-20 Army Camp, which had been built north of 55th Street, took on the role as Red Deer’s community band.


Caroline-Parade-MS-Walk-Music-n-Motion-2014-372The Community Band hit a real lull after the Second World War. There was little or no activity throughout the 1950’s. In 1961, the Red Deer Optimist Club formed a community trumpet and drum band. Two years later, the Elks Club restarted a junior concert band.

P3543In 1966, the Department of National Defense disbanded the KOC Regiment Band, which had acted as the senior band in Red Deer for a number of years. However, a number of ex-bandsmen along with Ron Dale, who was then sitting on Red Deer City Council, began pushing for the creation of a new Community Band Society.

The Community Band Society Forms


In 1968, City Council endorsed the creation of such an organization. In 1969, the Red Deer Community Band Society was formally incorporated with both a senior Monday night adult band and a junior band, which was ultimately to become known as the Red Deer Royals Concert and Marching Show Band.


Each of the band directors has left their own legacy with the Red Deer Community Band Society.


1968 – 1971: The first director was Vic Wright, a band teacher from Ponoka. Under his leadership, the society had two beginner bands, one junior band, and one senior band.  The band rehearsed at the old Central School.  Sadly, this school was destroyed by fire in April 1970 and the band lost its music library, music stands and privately owned instruments.  Rehearsals were moved to St. Thomas Aquinas school.


1971 – 1973: Dick Campion became the first full time, salaried Director.  The society now consisted of two adult bands, the start of a Drum and Fife Corp., one senior band and one beginner junior band. Mr. Champion left the Red Deer Community Band Society to begin farming.


1973 – 1977: Frank Connell became director in September of 1973. Mr. Connells’ time as director saw many changes within the organization. Mr. Connell was director of one beginner adult band, one senior adult band, one junior band and one beginner band.  In January 1974, Parkland Lions Club donated funds for the purchase of performance uniforms.

It was under the leadership of Mr. Connell that senior band was organized into a marching band, while continuing to perform as a concert band as well.  This senior band was renamed “The Red Deer Royals” and the junior band became known as “The Red Deer Regals”.

Mr. Connell also introduced the idea of international touring for the musicians of the Red Deer Royals when, in 1976, the band travelled to England and Scotland for a month long tour.  Sadly, Mr. Connell was not able to travel with the band for the entire tour due to his health.  Mr. Connell passed away while in the position of Director of Bands.


1978 – 1991: Mr. Alexander “Jigger” Lee became one of the longest serving band directors of the Red Deer Community Band Society. Jigger Lee worked tirelessly to grow the membership numbers of the bands.  By 1986, the society fielded The Regals, The Royals, a jazz band, and three adult bands.

The Lions Club of Red Deer provided funding for the purchase of new marching uniforms as the band was to march in the International Lions Club convention parade in San Francisco.  In July, 1984 the band performed in San Francisco, Disneyland and the San Diego zoo.  The Royals also travelled to The Kelowna Regatta, Expo 1986 and Alaska and Florida.  While at the Kelowna Regatta, the Red Deer Royals performed a field show for the first time.


1991 – 2001:  Mr. Keith Mann became the new Director of Bands in the fall of 1991.  Mr. Mann, a dedicated and talented band leader, brought a new direction to the society.

The Regals were disbanded and The Red Deer Royals became The Red Deer Royals Marching Show Band with members ranging in age from 12 to 21.  Mr. Mann encouraged community support for the bands of the Red Deer Community Band Society and involved community band leaders to conduct the adult bands.

Mr. Mann was a strong believer in the benefits of international travel for the band members.  With him, The Red Deer Royals traveled to Disneyland, a Mexico cruise, and Australia.  The Red Deer Royals also began to compete as a show band in the World Association of Marching Show Bands championship events, beginning in 1998 to England and France.  In 2001, the band was preparing for their tour and completion in The Netherland and Germany when Mr. Mann was killed in a motorcycle accident.  The show must go on, and Mr. Rob Goring stepped in to ensure the members could continue with their tour.


2001 – 2012: Rob Goring – Director of Bands for RDCBS from 2001 to 2012, Director of the Red Deer Royals from May 2001 to August 2012

Rob directed bands in Alberta for thirty-six years, first as a school band teacher and later as a community band director. Bands under his direction have achieved Gold Medals in Canada’s national concert band festival. Rob was the founding director of the Red Deer All-City Band, a community youth band who were repeat national Gold Medalists and national champions. Rob directed the Red Deer Community Band Society’s flagship community adult band from 1991 until 2001.  He became Director of Bands for the Red Deer Community Band Society and Director of the Red Deer Royals in May 2001.
Rob has been a teacher, vice-principal, and principal with the Red Deer Public School District and a college and university instructor with Red Deer College and the University of Alberta. Over his career he had the honour of teaching students across the levels, from kindergarten to fourth year university.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s degree in School Leadership from the University of Alberta.


In 2005 Rob was a recipient of the provincial government’s Alberta Centennial Medal for “outstanding service to the people and province of Alberta”.  In 2007 he was inducted into the international bandmasters’ fraternity Phi Beta Mu.


calgary-stampede-week-2013-012During his time as the Royals Director, Rob and his staff led the band to many impressive achievements, including:

  • 2001       Gold Medal at the WAMSB (*) World Championships in Potsdam, Germany
  • 2002       First Class Standing at “Fanfare” competition at Calgary Stampede

Silver Medal at Edmonton’s Klondike Days “Goldrush” competition

Musical Grand Champion at Edmonton’s Klondike Days Parade

  • 2003       Gold Medal at the WAMSB World Championships in Monza, Italy
  • 2004       Top Colour Guard/Drum Majors at the Calgary Stampde Parade and 4th band overall
  • 2005       Gold Medal at the Alberta Centennial Marching Show Band Championships in Red Deer

First place band in Red Deer’s Westerner Parade

Musical Grand Champion at Edmonton’s Klondike Days Parade

  • 2007       2nd runner up (Colour Guard and Band) in the Calgary Stampde Parade

Silver Medal in the MACBDA (**) competition in Calgary

Musical Grand Champion at Edmonton’s Klondike Days Parade

  • 2008       Musical Grand Champion in the Calgary Stampede Parade.  Best Canadian, Best Senior, Best Overall

Musical Grand Champion in Edmonton’s “Capital Ex” Parade

  • 2009       Silver Medal at the WAMSB World Championships in Kerkrade, The Netherlands
  • 2010       2nd Place overall and 2nd place Colour Guard in the Calgary Stampede Parade.

Musical Grand Champion in Edmonton’s “Capital Ex” Parade

Silver Medal standing in Showbands Live, Calgary Stampede

  • 2011       2nd Place overall band and 2nd place Colour Guard in the Calgary Stampede Parade

Bronze Medal standing in the MACBDA and Showbands Live performances in Calgary

Gold Medal at the WAMSB World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • 2012       Top Canadian Band and 3rd overall in the Calgary Stampede Parade

Gold Medal and 4th place overall at the WAMSB World Championships in Calgary

  • 2001-2012            Annually received the Superior Band Award and the Community Band Scholarship at the Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts


In addition, the band undertook five major international tours during Rob’s tenure as Director.

  • 2001       The Netherlands and Germany
  • 2003       Italy
  • 2006       Australia
  • 2009       Ireland, Germany and The Netherlands
  • 2011       Malaysia

Between 2001 and 2012 the Royals gave approximately 450 public performances, including at many prestigious events such as the Grey Cup on two occasions, the Olympic Torch Rally, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Stampeders games, The World Masters Games, Portraits of Heroes, the Scott Tournament of Hearts, and many more.


*   WAMSB  =  World Association of Marching Show Bands

** MACBDA = Mid-America Competing Band Directors’ Association



2012 – Present:  When Mr. Rob Goring retired as Director of Bands after 11 years, a baton passing ceremony was held at the June 2012 AGM when Mr. Michael Mann accepted the baton as the new Director of Bands for the Red Deer Community Band Society.

The band undertook the following international tours:

  • 2014       Italy
  • 2017        Netherlands, Germany, Belgium – Receiving gold at the World Music Contest


Currently, the Red Deer Community Band Society has a Monday night adult band, a Tuesday night adult band, a novice adult band, Jazz Explosion, an adult marching band, and The Red Deer Royals Concert and Marching Show Band.  Community band directors continue to conduct the adult bands and Mr. Mann largely gave his time and expertise to the Red Deer Royals.


In 2004/05, the Red Deer Royals replaced the 25 year old marching uniforms with a whole new look of black and red tunics, Shako hats with plumes and black bottoms.


In 2013, with the gracious support of the Rotary Clubs of Red Deer, the Red Deer Royals were able to replace the 30 year old concert attire with new concert dress consisting of red and black jackets, white tuxedo shirts and black tuxedo pants, completing the ensemble with a back cross-over tie.


It has become practice for the Royals to tour every second or third year, usually for competition at the WAMSB and MACBDA events.  Since 2001, the band has been to Italy, Australia, Ireland, Germany and The Netherlands as well as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2011.


The Red Deer Royals continue to be musical ambassadors, demonstrating their award winning marching and musical skills in parades and field shows throughout Central Alberta and the world.