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Coquitlam drummer who leads SFU Pipe Band is now a doctor

J. Reid Maxwell, lead drummer of the award-winning SFU Pipe Band drum corps for the past 30 years, has earned an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University.

Call him Dr. Maxwell.

J. Reid Maxwell, a Coquitlam resident and the lead drummer of the award-winning SFU Pipe Band drum corps for the past 30 years, earned an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University yesterday, June 11, at a convocation on Burnaby Mountain.

Maxwell is one of the world’s most celebrated drummers with nine World Pipe Band Championship titles and 10 drum corps titles with SFU, the 78th Fraser Highlanders and the Dysart & Dundonald Pipe Band — the latter, a Scottish group.

Born in Scotland, Maxwell launched his drumming career with Dysart & Dundonald, clinching two World Championship titles under then pipe major Bob Shepherd and lead drummer James King.

He emigrated to Canada in 1980 and moved from Ontario to Vancouver in 1992.

Over the years, he has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House.

Maxwell’s honorary degree from SFU is “for his tremendous contributions to the worldwide success of the band, its development pipe bands program and instruction of generations of drummers.”

“Surreal and humbled,” Maxwell said in his acceptance speech before SFU graduates.

“From a small mining village, Cardenden in Fife, how could this be happening to me? All I ever wanted to do was play drums. I guess that worked out OK.”

Maxwell is now the third SFU Pipe Band member to receive SFU’s highest honour: in 2013, then pipe major (Emeritus) Terry Lee and the current Pipe Sgt. Jack Lee also got the award.

Meanwhile, SFU is also bestowing honorary degrees on nine other leaders in June and October:

  • Daphne Bramham, journalist
  • Margaret George, Indigenous educator
  • Gerri Sinclair, technology leader
  • Kii’iljuus, Indigenous educator
  • Hildegard Westerkamp, composer
  • Yi Cui, scientist
  • Esi Edugyan, author
  • Elio Luongo, business leader
  • Alexandra Newton, biochemist

You can hear J. Reid Maxwell and other SFU pipers and drummers play at ScotFestBC, June 14 and 15, 2024, at Coquitlam's Town Centre Park.