78th Fraser Highlanders Calgary Garrison

Youth Squad

The Fort Calgary Garrison Youth Squad is an internationally acclaimed, ethnically diverse youth training program catering to young boys and girls between the ages of 10 - 15. 

There is NO CHARGE for the training the band members receive. All we ask is that they do their best to learn what we have to teach!

We are all about developing well rounded citizens! Aside from learning to play the bagpipes or drums, we also teach them highland dancing, history, weapons handling & safety, musketry, leadership, self discipline and give our candidates a strong sense of self!  

We are not just another Pipe Band. The Frasers are a living page of Canadian History. Members are able to continue their membership with the band until age 18 - at which time they may be offered a position to come back as an instructor - or move onto many of the other great pipe bands in the Calgary area.

In the 1980s, we offered a Summer Student Employment Program at Heritage Park. This is again our goal once the band has been trained and proficient enough to play confidently in public. While at Heritage Park, the band will wear a more modern uniform as the park depicts the 1910 era.

We also wear uniforms reflecting the 1757 era and train the members of our band 'Weapons Handling & Safety' in order to safely and confidently put on a Black Powder Show using real Brown Bess muskets! More about this subject below. 

We are not a competition band - but instead, our focus on a solid musical education and public performance. Our band offers a very different sound as our Drum Corps plays rope tension drums - instead of the modern rod tension variety.

Those who wish to compete are encouraged to do so. Our staff realize and appreciate the benefit of competition and will assist in any way they can to prepare our bandsmen.  


This year, 2023 marks our 45th training season. There are a limited number of positions open for pipers and drummers. We offer two training 'drafts' a year - fall (Sept/Oct) and winter (Jan) with intakes of 8 to 12 candidates on each draft. We prefer youngsters with NO previous experience and do not 'poach' players from other pipe bands.  

In addition to piping and drumming, members of the Youth Squad are schooled in Alberta and Canadian history, (particularly as it relates to the period when the Regiment served in Canada), man management, leadership, etiquette and public speaking.

As we are a para-military organization, dealing with muskets, sharp objects and explosive materials, we enforce and employ a strict code of military-like discipline. While our instructional model requires that we be 'fair, firm and helpful', our instructors are very clear on expectations and reserve the right to raise their voices if and when required. Precocious or entitled youngsters may find it difficult to navigate our training system.

Prior to handling the muskets and black powder, we subject the squad members to an intensive and tightly controlled 'Weapons Handling and Safety Course'. We teach 18th century drill and musketry instruction directly from a British Drill Manual dated 1749 - with minor procedural modifications to meet current safety standards 

Once trained in musketry, the Frasers are in high demand as event openers and Highland Games.

We ask that your youngster NOT be forced into the program to learn to play before Great Aunt Aggie passes!  This is never a good formula for success. Instead, we prefer that the candidates are here because they want to belong and experience the adventure for themselves.

Once the family decision is made, kindly complete the PDF Application Form and submit it to us. Our Recruiting and Retention Manager will then present the information to the Command Staff along with their recommendations for final consideration. At this point we will either invite your youngster to join the band or recommend an alternative solution which may include re-application on a future induction draft.

The Frasers are a well funded and well managed youth training organization with 45 years of experience.  

There is no charge for your youngster to benefit from the training we offer.  

Most instructors agree that the trick is to catch the young student at a point when their fingers work faster than their minds do! While we are looking for candidates between the age of 10 - 15, some youngsters can be ready earlier. We are quite prepared to accommodate younger players if they clearly display the passion and desire to join the band! 

On the other hand, if they are clearly unhappy, are not practicing or keeping up with the accepted rate of progress in learning tunes, we would prefer that they find a path in which they would be happier.

Ideally, we plan to provide a 4 to 1 student teacher ratio. Our instructors are well paid which represents a substantial investment to ensure that the students are progressing at an acceptable rate. This can only be accomplished if the candidate is devoting the required daily practice time.   

We are respectful and protective of our band members and the responsibility for their wellbeing at all times. All administrative, training and instructional staff (and anyone in direct contact with the band) is subjected to a Calgary Police Service background search including a Vulnerable Sector check.

Training is normally conducted on Sunday mornings from 0900 to noon at the Interpretive Centre in Heritage Park (Gasoline Alley). There is a CPR Station coffee shop conveniently adjoining the training facility. Parking is available right across the street with a 90 minute FREE parking feature. We encourage parents to arrange car pooling wherever possible.

On some occasions, practices will be held at The Military Museums located on Crowchild Trail. A practice calendar will post this information well in advance.

Candidates are required to wear a white dress shirt, Khaki trousers and polished black oxfords. As time and training progresses, they will eventually be awarded regimental ties and once they are proficient on their instrument, they will be awarded a gold bullion Regimental Blazer Crest.  

As youngsters tend to grow, we have a supply of suitable khaki trousers that can be issued and returned as required. If you wish to take advantage of this feature, it is available at no charge.

While the cost of the uniforms and kit (approx. $1,500 per person) for the Youth Squad are borne by the Garrison, they are signed out to the parent or guardian of the member - for the term of his/her time with the band. The cost of any losses occuring through negligence is due and payable to the Garrison. 

Bagpipes are considered a 'personal' asset and can be purchased over time or upon departure from the program. The pipes we provide are of the best available quality and will literally last a lifetime. During our summer program at Heritage Park, this is an excellent opportunity to get a lot of practice. Drums, on the other hand, remain the property of the Garrison and are not for sale.

Good news! Other than for a lift to and from practice, parents get Sunday morning off!  

There are functions and social events throughout the year at which we welcome the families to join in and participate. A fall BBQ, a family Robbie Burns Dinner and Fund Raiser, a Pub Night and a 'Dad's Day' at the ranges once the youngsters qualify on the Brown Bess muskets. Other than that - all you have to do is cheer your youngster on, pacify Great Aunt Aggie and encourage your son or daughter to complete the weekly training practice.

What is a band without road trips! Over the past 44 years, the band has had several spectacular road trips, funded by the patrons, sponsors and members of the Garrison! They have travelled Eastern Canada extensively to visit the Headquarters in Montreal and Nova Scotia to Louisbourg where the Frasers first landed in 1757. They have walked the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City and have ventured across the Atlantic to the homeland of the original Fraser Highlanders

On two occasions, Lord Lovat played host as the band was invited to perform at special clan functions and dine with the Chief of the Clan Fraser at Beauly Castle in the highlands of Scotland.  

There are opportunities on these trips to include parent chaperones.

We really hope that your youngster is interested in what we have to offer. Our alumni will attest to the great adventures they have enjoyed over the years!


If this is for you - and you would like to start the process to join the Old 78th Fraser Highlanders, please DOWNLOAD and complete the PDF Application Form, print it out, and send it to the Band Officer:

* NOTE: Gifted or truly determined youngsters younger than 10 will be given special consideration