The Church Lads Brigade Regimental Band
This year marks the 114th anniversary of the CLB Regimental Band. In the beginning, it was just a small fife and drum band, but it eventually evolved into the full military band which we all enjoy today.
Over the years, the band has performed on many special occasions including the visits of various members of the Royal Family, the visit of Pope John Paul II, for the veterans of both World Wars, when the band lead them at their departure and upon their return home. In fact, the CLB Band still provides music at parades for the various branches of the armed forces in the St. John's area.
Since 1964, the CLB Regimental Band has been a well known and important feature at the annual Royal St. John's Regatta. The Band's rendition of "The Banks of Newfoundland", what has become known throughout this province as "Up the Pond", is as much a part of Regatta tradition as each race at which it is played.
The Royal St. John's Regatta Committee thanks the the CLB Band for providing the music during Regatta Day. We salute all members of the Band and thank them for the past 46 years of continuous service at the Walter F. Learning Bandstand.
Walter F. Learning Bandstand
The Bandstand at Quidi Vidi Lake represents a long-standing icon of the Royal St. John’s Regatta, providing a “home” to the Church Lads Brigade (“CLB”)’s Regimental Band on the day of the Royal St. John’s Regatta as the band entertained spectators and rowers alike.
Major Walter Francis Learning accepted the position of Bandmaster of the Regimental Band in 1964 and provided guidance and leadership to the band for 36 years, until his retirement as Bandmaster following the conclusion of the 2010 Royal St. John’s Regatta.
Major Learning was a long time member of the Church Lads Brigade, having joined the CLB in 1939 under the regimental number 5293. Throughout his 73 year involvement, he progressed through the ranks of the CLB and took a fond interest in music and joined the CLB’s Regimental Band. Major Learning was a member with the Band for 68 years and played a leading role in recruitment classes, wherein he, and others, taught new recruits how to play, eventually taking on the position of Assistant Bandmaster for several years.
Through his involvement with the CLB Band, Major Learning participated in or lead the Band in the Royal St. John’s Regatta for 47 years, performing numerous songs from the Bandstand at Quidi Vidi Lake, at the start and finish of each race, and at various times throughout the day. Rain or shine, cold or heat the Band under Major Learning’s guidance, performed admirably.
Major Walter F. Learning was awarded the highest award of the CLB, the Medal of Merit in 1992. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 1995. In 1996 he was named the Knights of Columbus Citizen of the Year and in 2000, was presented with the Freedom of the City, by the City of St. John’s. With the unfailing support that wife, Marjorie, provided for Walter throughout his career with the CLB band and the Regatta over those many years, these achievements could not have happened.
The Learning family has had a long involvement with the CLB and The Royal St. John’s Regatta. Walter followed in his father’s footsteps as he too played at the regatta, and his son Donald and son-in-law Gunnar were also members of the band. Mrs. Learning worked at the CLB concession and daughter Sheri sang the opening to the Regatta, the Ode of Newfoundland for many years. In fact with that involvement, encouraged by Walter, they didn’t take their family vacation until after the first week in August!
With this background, passion for the Regatta and the CLB Regimental Band, it seemed only fitting, and truly deserved, for the Bandstand to be named the Walter F. Learning Bandstand in recognition of Major Learning’s almost 50 years of contributions to the CLB Regimental Band and the Royal St. John’s Regatta!