Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI). After the war, the band changed its name to the PA Collegiate Band, with musicians from both PACI and Riverside Collegiate. In 1958, the formation of a junior band was pitched to the Prince Albert Lions Club. George Robinson, band conductor, told the club that there were currently 27 members in the collegiate band. To feed experienced players into the band, an elementary band program had been set up which had 93 members. “The difference between a school band and a junior band is that a school band is restricted to a definite age group,” Robinson said, “while a junior band has only the age limit of 21 years.”
The PA Lions Club agreed to sponsor the Junior Lions Band program, established in 1960. Five years later, Bob Gibson came to Prince Albert from northern England to direct the Lions Band. Under Gibson’s direction, the Lions A, B and C Bands excelled. In December 1969, school music director Ian Barrie wrote in the PA Daily Herald that “every time the band performs in public the Lions project appears to be more than worthwhile.” A Sunday afternoon Christmas concert of the A and B bands, he stated, “covered the full gamut of sounds from transcriptions of opera, modern music, Latin American, and all garnished with a liberal assortment of seasonal music.” Linda Wallace on French horn, and Norma Wallace on flute, were highlights, as were piano duets played by Alayne Hall and Brenda Prosser. “The Lions Band is an up and coming aggregation and deserves the support of the citizens of Prince Albert,” Barrie said. “Much credit goes to the conductor, Bob Gibson, for his patience and hard work with these young people.”
In 1971, the PA Lions A Band had the honour of being singled out by the organizers of the Moose Jaw International Band Festival to appear as one of two guest bands at the opening night concert. This recognition came about thanks to Bandmaster Gibson, who not only arranged for the participation of the A and B bands in the Moose Jaw festival, but also entered various quartets, sextets, and soloists in special competitions. These were truly enriching experiences for young musicians from Prince Albert like myself. In the early 1970s, the senior Lions Band was awarded first place in its class at the Moose Jaw festival, and many of the band’s soloists were scholarship winners.
A major highlight for the Prince Albert Lions A Band was its three-week tour of England and Wales in July of 1973. (I wasn’t on this tour as I had moved away to go to college.) After fundraising for over two years, fifty band members, including my tuba-playing sister, loaded onto a chartered plane in Saskatoon and flew to London for the trip of a lifetime. The band travelled on two buses, playing concerts in several communities. They even marched in a parade, although they had to do so in their concert-stage blazers. My sister says that the best concert the band ever played was in Mr. Gibson’s hometown of Barrowin-Furness. “We knew how important it was to him that we perform well,” she recalls.
Bob Gibson conducted the PA Lions Band program for ten years, until it ended in 1975. He also directed the City Band and bands in the school system. His love of music extended to his involvement with many choral groups in the city, including the Prince Albert Men’s Chorus and the Captones. Gibson’s many contributions to music and education in the city were recognized in June 2015 when he received the Prince Albert Award of Merit.
Members of the PA Lions Band on tour in England, 1973. Bandmaster Robert L. Gibson seated in centre of second row (dark blazer).