The Newmarket Citizens’ Band is the oldest continuously running community concert band in Canada.
The band was founded in 1872, with roots dating back to as early as 1843. Funds were raised by a petition circulated amongst the local business community by three sons of the fur trader William Roe. One of the sponsors was Robert Simpson of the Simpson department store chain. The grand sum of $319 was raised to purchase instruments.
Today the band is supported by a grant from the Town of Newmarket and members’ subscriptions. A few instruments are still owned by the band, perhaps not the originals, but the majority of members own the instrument they play.
In the 1950s and ’60s the band competed in the concert band category at the Waterloo music festival and at the C.N.E. For many years, we competed in the York Region Lions music festival but unfortunately the community band category has been dropped from the festival in recent years due to lack of community band entrants.
The Canadian Band Association Cavalcade of Winds, held annually in North York, has become the band’s main competitive event.
In 1973 the National Film Board produced a documentary film on the band entitled “Goodbye Sousa.” Although the title of the film may suggest a departure, the Newmarket Citizens’ Band is very much alive and well today and looking forward to providing another century of music and pleasure for ourselves and our audiences. (We proved this in 1996 when we made a guest appearance on City TV’s “Breakfast Television” program.)
Throughout the years more than one generation of a family have been members of the band and we’re delighted that pattern is continuing. The band now consists of 60 members and current engagements include concerts for the town of Newmarket and by invitation from other municipalities and organizations in and out of town. We are at our busiest during the summer months with concerts and then busy again at Christmas time when we participate in several Santa Claus parades.
Our repertoire covers a broad spectrum of “traditional” community-band material: marches, orchestral transcriptions, original band compositions, instrumental solos, Broadway and movie music, waltzes, polkas, rags and pop. Programs are planned with audience development and appeal in mind. New members are always welcomed at our rehearsals.