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Acton Citizens' Band says farewell to Bandmaster Jeff Carr

About 25 members of the Acton Citizens' Band (ACB) met in the parking lot of the Ted Tyler Music Centre Wednesday to wish their bandmaster Jeff Carr a fond farewell. Carr has served as bandmaster the last three years, although he started playing trombone with the band in 1976 when he was 15 years old.

Carr said that family matters and employment opportunities are behind his relocation to Fort Francis, Ont., located near the U.S. and Manitoba border. Most of his family has settled in the area, and Carr will also be working as a school principal for the Rainy River District School Board.

The Acton Citizens' Band is arguably Canada's oldest concert and marching band and has been operating almost continuously since 1872, only briefly interrupted by World War II. Remarkably, the ACB has had only a handful of directors in modern times. Carr succeeded long-serving bandmaster George Elliot who had previously held that post for 50 years.

“I've had the pleasure of working with an absolutely amazing group of people. Most bands are either high school bands or military bands, but this community band thing is quite unique, with a variety of different people coming together to make music.”

Long-time band member Marv McRonald regaled the group with recollections of the early days when he played trombone besides Carr. He also listed some of the many families that have been part of the band stretching over generations and decades. More than half the members in attendance have had more than one generation in the band including the Burgesses and the McBurneys. Jennifer Morris said that not only she and her kids played in the band but her in-laws did as well.

Acton Citizens' Band has been on hiatus since the pandemic his early last year, but there is some talk of starting up again. According to band vice president Bruce McBurney: “We're going to be looking for a new conductor similar to the role Jeff was doing, that's going to be a tricky thing but we've got a few ideas. As far as when we can start playing again, hopefully early next year, but we're really going to have to play that by ear.”


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