Sybil MacPhee

2008 Jun

Sybil MacPheeSybil MacPhee (nee MacDougall) was born at St. Elmo, the daughter of Ross & Melba MacDougall.

Sybil MacPhee had a great love for Celtic music. Her passion in the early days of the Glengarry Pipe Band sparked an interest in the inception of a school of piping and drumming. Sybil attended the early meetings and in 1970 when the school became an independent association, she stepped forward and became secretary/treasurer.

Sybil was not only on the Executive, but she was also the lady who made the school a success. She worked relentlessly to ensure that advertising was done on time; she organized the registration and classes; she ensured qualified teachers were hired and that accessible teaching space was available. Sybil was always the first to arrive on Saturday mornings and she was always the last to leave following careful inspection of the facilities. There would be few pipers or drummers from Glengarry who did not know Sybil MacPhee. Of the alumni statistics gathered a few years ago, it was noted that over 1000 students have graced the hall of the Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming.

Sybil donated many years of her life to the Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming. She remained a dedicated volunteer and served continuously on the Executive as Treasurer until her sudden illness and passing in February, 2001.

Sybil’s memory carries on for many of us who have had the opportunity of walking those halls and chatting with her regularly on Saturday mornings. In fact a slow air was written in memory of her years of unselfish dedication and commitment to the school entitled, “The Ghost of Sybil MacPhee.”

As quoted from the book of the The Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming – a history:

“Sybil’s devotion to the School and her contribution to the survival of Scottish culture is unparalleled and the organization has profited greatly and has been extremely fortunate to have had her support and assistance for all of these years…”

Without Sybil’s help, it would have taken months (or longer) to gather the information for the book and without her constant dedication and perseverance the Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming may not have survived for so many years.

She worked in Ottawa for the civil service for some time and farmed in the Dunvegan area with her husband, the late R. Borden MacPhee and their three children, Merrill, Maureen and Shelley. She was an avid gardener and was greatly involved with her church and her community. Her family inherited her love of Celtic music; daughter, Shelly continues to work with the pipers of Glengarry and grandchildren, Ian and Emily MacLellan were students at the school and played in Glengarry’s pipe bands.

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