The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

Bugle Band

1887 - 1992

This page is not intended to be a complete history of the RHLI Bugle Band, as there is better coverage of this type elsewhere on the Web.
This page is to primarily describe the relationship of the Hamilton Firefighters Drum Corps to the RHLI Bugle Band over the last 30 years, or so. AND it is under constant construction.
Any additions, comments, criticisms are welcome. Please e-mail me with anything you wish to contribute.


1959 - James Street Armouries(Just before the Viscounts emerged)

1961 - Church Parade, John Street, Hamilton
Bugle Major Fred Hawkes can be seen in this photo, fourth man from the left side of the picture, carrying a soprano

In 1956, Frederick J. Hawkes, who at the time was the Bugle Major of the R.H.L.I., formed the Viscounts Senior Drum Corps.  This resulted in dual organizations, under one roof.  Although all military requirements were met by the bugle band, this dual situation still gave rise to a number of objections from the militia command.  These problems eventually resulted in the separation of the Viscounts from the militia in 1961.

There were 48 brass, 16 percussion and approximately 16 colour guard.  All were active, paid members of the militia.  At the time of the separation, they were given a choice of staying with the militia or separating as unpaid members with the Viscount organization. Of the approximately eighty members of the R.H.L.I. Bugle Band, all but three left with the Viscounts.
After this serious blow, the Bugle Band gradually built itself back up and continued to be an admirable miltiary bugle band.


Many of the members of the RHLI Bugle Band, graduated to the Hamilton Firefighters Drum Corps.   The primary reasons for this were twofold:
The type of music that the army played tended to be simple and repetitive.  The musicians eventually found that they wanted to expand their musical horizons and move on to something else.
The exodus of RHLI members to the HFFDC continued for many years and the men usually tended to follow their friends.
In all, over eighty HFFDC members came from the RHLI bugle band. In the 1972 photo, the third man from the right, in the front row, seated, is Paul Spino, who the president of the Hamilton Firefighters Drum Corps for the year 2000.
Paul Spino

Voice From The Past:
June 9, 2000 - Received an e-mail from Wayne Place. Wayne played drums in the RHLI Bugle Band for four years, just prior to the formation of the Viscounts. He has fond memories of Fred Hawkes , Jimmy Inrig, the drum instructor and Wayne Peters. Wayne Place now resides in a "golf course/marina in North Carolina", we should all be so lucky. For any of the old RHLI that might remember Wayne, his email address is

Please contribute material


In October of 1964, the documentary movie, "The Finest Hour", about Winston Churchill during the second world war, was debuted in the city of Hamilton.  The RHLI Bugle Band was used extensively during these opening ceremonies. This photo was taken in Sam Lawrence Park, overlooking the city as part of that promotion. The RHLI buglers with the ceremonial herald horns, were left to right, Bugle Major Roy Collins, Corporal Bill Robinson, Corporal Barney Bovard and Bugler Doug Smith.
Roy Collins and Bill Robinson are now deceased.  Barney Bovard and Doug Smith went on to play with the Hamilton Firefighters Drum Corps. Barney Bovard is still active on the HFFDC Alumni executive committee and as 'Drill Dress & Deportment Instructor' with the HFFDC.

from Gary Zoskey  (circa 1954)                                                              from Gary Zoskey  (circa 1954)

                                from Gary Zoskey  (Toronto Army Show)

Send your comments and suggestions to: Peter Mason, HFFDC
Last Updated on July 12, 2003 by Peter Mason