Everyone knows Canada celebrated the country’s 150th birthday in 2017, but did you know there’s another notable anniversary taking place in Lanark County? Canada’s oldest continuously-operating town band, the Perth Citizens’ Band, is celebrating 165 years in operation – that makes it older than Canada!
It’s hard to believe the town of Perth was savvy enough to form a town band as far back as 1852, but it’s true! The Perth Citizens’ band has been running continuously for 165 years, and it seems there’s no end in sight for this popular Lanark County icon.
What made this band last so long at a time when other community bands fell by the wayside, victims of new technologies of the 18th and 19th centuries like the phonograph, movies and television? It’s tough to say for sure, but the story is that while other bands were struggling to stay afloat, three dedicated bandmasters from the Perth Citizens’ Band were working diligently to maintain a regular infusion of younger blood into the band.
That dedication paid off, and as of 2017, the Perth Citizens’ Band is the last of its kind in Canada.
Today, the Perth Citizens’ Band plays at community events, parades, festivals, but it also gets around outside of Lanark County. Historically the band has played at Ontario’s Bicentennial celebrations in Toronto, the sending of the Perth’s Mammoth Cheese to The Chicago World’s Fair and The Governor Generals Garden Party at Rideau Hall and the Town Band Festival in Orono, Ontario.
Made up of approximately 50 members from throughout Lanark County, both male and female musicians are drawn together by a love of music and an interest in the community. This band doesn’t only play classical music, they really like to shake things up a bit! Visitors to one of the Perth Citizens’ Band’s summertime performances in the town of Perth will enjoy a variety of music, ranging from the classics like Bach or Mozart, to more contemporary tunes from the Beatles or Broadway hits.
Experience the musical presence of an old-time town band and listen to one of their performances for yourself; the band practices every Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. in Perth Town Hall, and all musicians are welcome. They also host an annual Strawberry Social that’s a popular favourite in the town of Perth.
In summer, you can drop by Perth’s Stewart Park every second Thursday in June, July and August and enjoy a concert that’s free for anyone with two ears and a love of music. Bring a lawn chair, some friends and sit back and relax for a one-of-a-kind performance in downtown heritage Perth!