The Regimental Band of
The Royal Winnipeg Rifles
The Regimental Band is as old as the Regiment, dating back to 1883, making it the oldest concert band in Winnipeg. In 1885, members of the band accompanied the Regiment to the Northwest Rebellion.
At first comprised of only buglers and drummers, the band has developed into a professional brass and reed concert band, capable of supporting vocals and a multitude of styles and genres in its repertoire, while maintaining its traditions with a bugle line. Bugles, by tradition and practical use, are closely associated with rifle regiments; in garrison and on the battle field, orders were relayed by buglers, vice drums, as used by the line infantry.
The role of the band and its scope of music have changed throughout history. During World War II, there were in fact three Regimental Bands. Two of the bands remained in Canada, one contributed a great deal to the morale of soldiers training in Shilo, the other performing for the citizens of Winnipeg, maintaining the cities link to the Regiment, both provided a much-needed reprieve from the realities of the time. The third band, formed by soldiers in Europe, was an ad hoc collection of musicians taken from the Battalion, and similarly provided light entertainment,reminding soldier of home.
In the past, band members served along side the Regiment acting as stretcher bearers and support staff. The Band today continues to entertain the people of Manitoba and assist in the esprit de corps of the Regiment.
The Regimental Drums protected by Regiment’s Pioneers
The band is currently under the direction of 2Lt Ryan Wehrle, Director of Music, and Sgt Claude Ouellette, Bugle Major. Balanced instrumentation allows the band to perform a variety of music; while marches will always be part of the Regimental Band’s repertoire, they also play concert selections, modern and classical arrangements, as well as big band and contemporary music. In addition to its primary role of being a marching band for ceremonial occasions and concert band, the Regimental Band has also formed woodwind and brass ensembles. As a fully authorized brass and reed band in the Canadian Army Reserves, the band maintains its full compliment of 35 musicians, as well as receiving help from a small core of dedicated volunteers.
The role of the Winnipeg Rifles Band is to provide musical support to the Canadian Forces, and is currently the only authorized brass and reed band in 38 Brigade, thereby fulfilling a dual role as the official band of for the Brigade.
In the summers of 1999 and 2007 the band performed at Le Festival International De Musiques Militares de Québec in Québec City. In the spring of 2000 three members of the band accompanied The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada during a pilgrimage to Holland, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Holland’s liberation. In August of 2000 the band performed before an estimated 50,000 people during the opening ceremonies of the Pooh Friendship Day, a celebration of Winnipeg’s ties to the beloved character of Winnie the Pooh. In June 2003 the band had the privilege of travelling to France to play for the opening of the Juno Beach Centre, and numerous smaller ceremonies in villages in the Normandy region.
The Regimental Band of The Royal Winnipeg Rifles has provided musicians to serve with the Ceremonial Guard Band in Ottawa to perform the changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill. Members of the band have also secured summer employment serving with the National Naval Reserve band.
As a reserve band, the Rifles have had success and have proudly seen some of its members advance into permanent positions with Canada’s Regular Force Bands.