Reay Mackay Appreciation Trophy
awarded to the A Division Piping March, Strathspey & Reel contest winner
Reay Mackay was a Toronto area piper, band leader, composer, adjudicator and instructor. He was a much respected member of the Ontario piping and drumming scene for many decades.
He was born in Toronto (1939) to Colin and Mary Mackay and received his initial piping instruction from his father, who was a well known professional piper and member of the 48th Highlanders of Canada. His uncle, Douglas Mackay was also a professional piper with the 48th and Reay played Douglas’s pipes for much of his active piping life. Two other uncles, Tom and Jimmy were fiddlers, resulting in Reay spending his young life immersed in highland music.
Reay went on to study from two renowned pipers: Murdo MacLeod (a student of John McDougall Gillies) and Pipe Major John Wilson, gold medalist from Edinburgh and student of Roddy Campbell. At age thirteen, Reay started competing in the professional ranks, and also wrote the infamous hornpipe “Colin Mackay” for his father. Througout his career, he won most of the major piping competitions in North America, including the North American Professional Solo Championship in six consecutive seasons.
Reay started composing at a very young age and continued up until shortly before his death. He loved to write music and would literally spend hours/days at it. Reay was always concerned that his compositions were original and his own. He often used his trusted piping sources and especially his daughter Glenna, as a sounding board for his music. Reay was delighted when players would perform his tunes, as that was his ultimate goal – make, play and enjoy music.
He played with the 48th Highlanders of Canada Pipe Band from the early 1950s and became Pipe Major in 1975. He went on to become Pipe Major of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Pipe Band in 1985 and had great success with both organizations, winning many prizes over the years. His dedication, influence and passion to both these organizations was unparalleled.
Reay started teaching at a young age and continued until just before his death. Over the years, he taught countless people and was committed and passionate about his work. A teacher, by profession, Reay’s expertise and knowledge were in high demand. He held a Masters degree in Education and was truly a masterful educator – he travelled extensively and taught at venues across North America. He was also instrumental in designing the initial adjudication examination process with his colleagues Archie Cairns and Willie Connell. He held judging credentials for both the PPBSO and EUSPBA, and was a senior adjudicator for the Competing Pipers Association.
In addition to being a top tier piper, Reay was also an accomplished accordion player, having acquired a passion for it in his early adult life. Click here to listen to his legendary 2011 Toronto Branch recital, performed on both smallpipes and accordion.
Reay and his loving wife Joan were married for 57 years. Reay was always grateful for the love and support Joan gave him, while pursuing his love of music.
Reay’s piping legacy lives on with his daughter, Glenna and grandchildren, Colin and Kayleigh.