Music is an important part of early prairie life. For many, dances were the main social gathering in the area, and they presented the opportunity to have some fun and to connect with those in the area. Every dance needed music and for the community of Webb, the 1920s were all about the Webb School Band.
The Webb School Band was organized in 1924 and consisted of 12 members, with George Rutherford, the lumberyard owner, serving as bandmaster. The Webb School Board donated money to buy instruments and music, and many in the area also contributed money. The band would rehearse in the lumberyard office for the first six months until Mr. Rutherford left the area. George Stevens took over as bandmaster and the community was lucky to have him.
Stevens was a graduate of the London College of Violinists, the Royal Academy of Music and the London College of Music. During the First World War, he was part of a military band that performed near the front lines.
Twice per week, Stevens would travel from Swift Current with his two daughters to practice and teach the band. Band practice at this point was held in the basement of the Webb School and the band was able to play its first concert in its first year.
In 1927, Stevens moved to Shaunavon and the Webb School Band brought in George Simes as the bandmaster. He was a master at playing the clarinet and had performed in London, England.
Through these two excellent bandmasters, the band was able to thrive and performed throughout the area and at the Regina Exhibition twice. The band was noted for being one of the best in the area as well and were known for their skill and professionalism.
In 1928, Simes left and John Waite took over for a few months. Unfortunately, the good days of the band were fading and by 1930, the band had ceased to operate. What was left in its bank balance was donated back to the Webb School Board.
The band would return with a new generation in 1952. This band played throughout the area but would eventually disband in 1957.
Suggestions for columns or questions? E-mail Craig at email@example.com. Listen to his podcast by searching for “Canadian History Ehx” on your podcast platform. Find his show on YouTube by searching for “Canadian History Ehx”.
Information for this column comes from Prairie Memories.
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