We do not know of a lot of individual boy bands. One is of course reminded of "The Music Man" and Professor Harold Hill. We believe that many Mid-Western towns had boy or community bands, but have no detailed information at this time. I'm sure there were a number of them. We do note one of these bands accross the border in Canada. We have noted the Weston Boy's Band in Ontario. It was no only know in the local community, but throughout Ontario. The Band was apparently founded after World War I in 1921. It took its name apparently from the town of Weston in southern Ontario. The band was founded by George Sainsbury, an immigrant from England.
Saisbury was interested in music from an early age. He grew up in Fawley and as a boy played in a local fife and drum band. After finishing primary school at age 14, he became a carpenter's apprentice at Minestead in Hampshire. Here George helped organize another fife and drum band. A year later he wentback to Fawley and joined the village band. His instrument was the bass horn. This was, however, just the beginning of George's musical career. He organized
another fife and drum band, which evolved into a brass band. He played with the Royal Artillery Band at Eastbourne and a military band in Birmingham. He also organized a brass band for the Springhill Baptist Church. Sainsbury eventually decided to emigrate to Canada (1905). As soon as he got to Canada, he continued with his musical interests. He moved to Weston, Ontario. The town had a band and Sanisbury became the bandmaster. He worked with the band for several years. World War I broke out and the Dominions were drawn into the War (1914). The members of the band (all but one) enlisted. Sainsbury also joined the war-effort and was appointed the bandmaster of the 220th Battalion Band. He later took charge
of the Headquarters Band of Military District No. 2.
The Canadian Army after World War I had large numbers of musical instruments tht it no longer needed. When Sanisbury returned to Weston, he ued some of the surpluss instruments to organize the Weston Boys Band. The boys included Sanisbury's four sons (Horace, Wilfred, Lloyd and William). The boys played Christmas carols at their first performance and the people of Weston were most impressed. It was a British-style brass band. It was a very serious undertaking, the director was quite strict. Boys reportedly rarely missed a practice or performance.
Sanibury within a couple years had a group of 30 boys. Joining the babd required quite an effort on a boy's part. A new boy had to attend music classes conducted by Mrs. Sainsbury. She drilled the boys for 10 years. They had to dilgently practice scales for 6 months before they were permitted to attend band reghersals with Mr. Sainsbury's at the Town Hall with the other boys. One rejoinder to boys not paying attention was "Quick's the word and sharp's the action or off comes your head and on goes a cabbage!" Mr. Sanisbury also occassionally let his baton fly to keep the boys in order.
Many towns and groups in Canada had bands and there were band competitions. The Weston Boys' Band began competing virtually asson as they were formed (1921). They earned third place in Class "C" of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Band Contest (1925). They went on to earm many other awards.
When first formed, the boys wore make-shift uniforms of white shirts and white duck trousers. They did not yet have uniform caps (figure 1). The Weston Boys' Band in 1924 had a uniform of blue tunics (military jackets) which had been obtained from the Salvation Army which were worn with white duck trousers (figure 2). Evebntually the band switched to blue trousers which were easier to keep clean. The band eventually changed to red tunics (1950s).
The Weston Boys' Band became a popular local institution. The performed at all kinds of functions, including garden parties, strawberry festivals and fall fairs. Participation on the CNE band competition became an anticipated annual event. The schedule became very demanding. The boys sometimes appeared as much as four times a week. Sometimes the boys were on parade as often as four times a week.
As the original boys began to grow up, Sanibury decided to change the name to the Weston Silver Band. The band experienced considerable success in competitions during the 1930s. They won many orizes at the Canadian National Exhibition contests and Waterloo Music Festivals. The recognition resulted in invitations to appear throghout southern Ontario. The band disbanded when Canada again jointed Vritain in World War II (1939). Many members enlisted. The band reformed again in 1946. Mr. Sanisbury worked with them again. When he died at age 76, his son Horace directed the band for 5 years, but had to give it up because of failing health. Quite a number of individuals have sence served as the band director.
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