Standing on guard
Two Apple Hill siblings have spent the summer on Parliament Hill, where they provided musical accompaniment for the daily changing of the guard.
Chris Macdonell, 22, a piper, and his sister, Rebecca, 20, a tenor and snare drummer, have been fixtures on the Hill since late June.
Outside of Buckingham Palace, Parliament Hill may be home to the most famous changing of the guard ceremony in the world.
The ritual takes place at 10 a.m. every morning from late June through late August, and provides a colourful display of pomp, pageantry and music.
Typically, hundreds of people visit the Hill every morning to watch the spectacle. And although he is playing to a big audience, Mr. Macdonell says that it doesn’t make him nervous. “It’s not unnerving,” he said. “We trained extensively for one and a half months prior to the assignment. By the time we got to Parliament Hill, we were used to it.”
Mr. Macdonell and his sister are part of a mass group of musicians that includes 20 pipers, 10 drummers, and a brass and reed band of about 40. However, he says that he’s not working on the Hill every single day.
“We’re on rotation,” he says. “We work about five to six days and then we get a few days off.”
Miss Macdonell says that she and her brother are both graduates of Holy Trinity Secondary School and that they learned to play their instruments at the Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming.
Despite their Glengarry origin, life has taken the siblings in two different directions. Mr. Macdonell makes his home in Shilo, MB,
where he is a member of the Second Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
Miss Macdonell, meanwhile, lives closer to home, where she drums with the SDG Highlanders Pipe Band.
This marks the second year in a row that the siblings have played on Parliament Hill. They auditioned for the jobs in the fall and were welcomed back for a second year.
They say they will likely reapply for the assignment for a third year in a row.
ICONIC WORK: Rebecca Macdonell and her brother have special summer jobs.