Pipe Major – Brian Urkosky
Brian Urkosky began piping lessons at the age of 13 with Pipe Major John MacDonald, of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Pipe Band. Since that time, he has received tuition from Pipe Major Ian K. MacDonald in light music and Ceol Mor, and actively competed in solos, until he reached the Grade 1 level. In 1992, he joined the Metro Toronto Grade 2 Pipe Band, and in 1998 became the Pipe Major of the Toronto Police Grade 4 Pipe Band, leading it to three North American Pipe Band Championships.
In 2007, Brian established a new junior Grade 3 Toronto Police Pipe Band, which he led to a North American Championship in 2011, and three PPBSO Champion Supreme Awards. In 2013, the band travelled to Scotland to compete in the World Pipe Band Championships, and finished 6th in the Grade 3B category – this was thus far Brian’s proudest piping achievement!
The Ryan Russell Memorial Pipe Band was formed under Brian’s leadership in 2013, and with the help of family and friends, made its first competition performance in 2014. In August 2018, he led the band onto the field at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland – the first international competition experience for most of the young members. While in Glasgow, the band also performed at the Piping Live! Festival.
Outside of piping, Brian is a member of the Toronto Police Service, and holds the rank of Staff Sergeant. Brian also spends his free time volunteering with youth hockey and soccer organziations.
Doug Stronach – Snare Instructor
Doug Stronach is one of North America’s top pipe band players and educators. He is a World Junior Solo Snare Drum Champion, winner of the Scottish, British and European Championships, as well as multiple top-six World Championship finishes with bands both in Scotland and Canada. He was the leading drummer of the Toronto Police and Peel Regional Police Pipe Bands with two Grade 1 North American Drum Corps Awards. He recently retired from competition with the six-time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band from Vancouver, BC.He has taught and played throughout the world including Canada, USA, South America, South Africa, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, France, Germany, Sicily and the UK and has authored five books on Pipe Band Drumming including North America’s best-selling beginner tutor book.
Doug is an accredited judge and holds the highest level of certificate in drumming from the combined Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, The Army School of Piping and Drumming, and the Institute of Piping, known collectively as the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board. He is a qualified assessor for the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board. You can contact Doug directly through his contact page here.
Drum Sergeant – Cameron Redford
Cameron Redford, who is currently 15 years old, started drumming in 2017, both in solo and band competitions. He has been honoured to represent the Ryan Russell Memorial Pipe Band since this time.
Cameron was inspired to start his drumming after attending multiple Highland Games to watch and support his dad Jeff, and brother Tyler Redford, who both play the pipes for the Ryan Russell Memorial Pipe Band.
He has had the privilege and honour to have some amazing instructors over the last five years. Doug Stronach and Mackenzie Chamberlain for his band music, and Glen Neil for his solos. Thanks to these three accomplished musicians, it has helped foster the well rounded player that he is today, and furthered his love of drumming.
Some highlights for Cameron; in 2018, he had the privilege of playing at the Worlds in Scotland. In 2019, he got to play in the band that started off the Toronto Raptors victory parade through Toronto. Also in 2019, Cameron won Championship Supreme in grade 4 snare drumming.
Besides drumming, Cameron enjoys camping with his scout group, and will be attending the World Jamboree in South Korea in 2023! Cameron also is a proud member of “Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs”, where he collects pop tabs from his community. These pop tabs are taken to a metal recycling depot and that money is donated to the Robert Hampson “Tabs for Kids Fund” to make wheelchairs.
Pipe Major Ian K. MacDonald – Piping Mentor
Ian K. MacDonald began playing at age of eight years old, and was taught by his father, P/M John MacDonald. At thirteen, he received instruction from Jim McGillivray, who introduced him and his older brother Craig to Piobaireachd. In the same year, he joined the Toronto Police Pipe Band and became Pipe Major in 1996.
In 1995, he won the Canadian Gold Medal, and in 1997 won the “A” grade Strathspey and Reel at Oban and Inverness.
In 2016, he became the twelfth piper in history to win the “Double Gold” medal at Oban and Inverness in Scotland, and received a second invitation to the prestigious Glenfiddich Piping Competition at Blair Castle.
In 2017 he won the Dunvegan Medal in Skye, 2nd in the Senior Piobaireachd at Oban, was awarded the Ontario Champion Supreme for Professional Piping.
Ian K. is a Sergeant with the Toronto Police Service and proud husband to the beautiful, Brenda, and father to Colin, Cameron (who is also a alumni snare drummer with the Ryan Russell Memorial Pipe Band), and Ashlyn.
Drum Sergeant Danny Funchion – Snare Mentor
In 1997, Danny was introduced to drumming through the army cadet program in Vankleek Hill Ontario at the “late age” of 17. He started off my drumming career as a tenor drummer and completed with the 2.C.M.P.G. out of Petawawa ON, under the leadership of Ed Bush (PM) and his brother, Jim Bush (lead drummer). Danny spent the next two seasons playing for John in the Halton Police Pipe Band (grade 4) under PM Jeff Swance and piping instructor, Tom Anderson.
After 2 seasons, Danny moved to Waterloo and gave up competition for 7 years, however he stayed active with the Royal Highland Fusiliers in Cambridge ON, under PM Douglas Davidson. Danny joined the Durham Regional Police Pipe Band (Grade 3) under the leadership of Andrew Cairns (PM) and Buzz Brown (lead drummer).
In 2007, Danny competed with the Toronto Police Pipe Band under the leadership of Brian Urkosky (PM) and lead drummer, Brian McCue. During the past 15 years, he has spent a few seasons bouncing back and forth between playing in the grade 3 band and the grade 1 band under lead drummers; Doug Stronach, Ken Constable, and Craig Stewart.
Danny is currently a Detective Constable with the Toronto Police Service.
Hector Macdonald — Piping Mentor
Hector Macdonald is a well-known piper who has been involved in the pipe band community from a young age. He was first exposed to the music of Scotland by his parents, and received instruction from Terry Cleland, Bill Livingstone, and George Campbell. Hector was a successful Open class soloist and is now an adjudicator at the various Highland Games in Ontario. He spent many years playing in Grade 1 bands, competing in North America and Scotland. He also spent a fascinating year playing bagpipes while living and working in Japan and travelling throughout the Far East. He brings intense passion for the music and a deep knowledge of the instrument, and wants to pass on that knowledge to the next generation of pipers.
Hector is a Police Officer with the Toronto Police Service. He is married to Denise, a Highland Dance adjudicator. Hector is the proud father of Malcolm and Alexander, who both play the pipes. Malcolm is an alum of the RRMPB and Alexander is a current member of the band.
Jeff Redford — Piping Mentor
Jeff Redford has been a member of the Toronto Police Service for the past twenty-three years. He started his piping career in 1996 with the Halton Regional Police Pipe Band. He then joined the Grade 3 Toronto Police Pipe Band in 2004 as a competitive piper, winning Champion Supreme several occasions.
PM Brian Urkosky sought Jeff out to assist the RRMPB as a mentor in teaching the young pipers. Jeff’s knowledge, experience, and most importantly, his patient approach, are a valuable addition to the mentoring team.
Photos provided by Stuart Lowe Photography and Calvin Gordon