Governor General’s Foot Guards Band’s first female Director of Music retires

Lieutenant Colonel Frances Chilton-Mackay Photo by CFSU (O) Photo Services

Lieutenant Colonel Frances Chilton-Mackay
Photo by CFSU (O) Photo Services

Jeanne Gagnon, Guard of Honour ~
July 21, 2016

Ottawa, Ontario — Without fanfare, Lieutenant Colonel Frances Chilton-Mackay is retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces at the end of July as she is turning 60, the CAF’s mandatory retirement age. She said she has no specific retirement plans aside from travelling and spending more time with her grandchildren.

She retires as the first female Director of Music of the Regimental Band of the Governor General’s Foot Guards, a role she took over in 2005. LCol Chilton-Mackay also taught instrumental music with the Ottawa-Carleton District School board high schools for 14 years.

“I have had two wonderful careers – being a music teacher in the public school system and being in the military as a military musician and Director of Music,” said LCol Chilton-Mackay. “With the Canadian Armed Forces, I gained an expertise in military music. Just the opportunity to bring military music to the forefront – as part of our ceremonial events, particularly for the Army, was an outstanding experience.”

She began her military career 40 years ago when she enrolled as a Reserve  musician with the 7th Toronto Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery Band while in university. She plays the clarinet. She joined the Governor General’s Foot Guards Band when she moved to Ottawa in 1985. LCol Chilton-Mackay was eventually named the band’s Director of Music, which she said represents a significant achievement.

“It’s been almost 11 years that I have been a conductor of the band,” she said. “I took what had previously been a man’s world and was thrilled to have been named the first female conductor of this very fine band.”

In her daytime role as the Army Major Events Planner, she has organized many events, including the annual Army Ball since 2005. The 12th edition on April 16, 2016 was her last one in uniform.

“It was a beautiful send-off,” she said.

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