Pipe Major George McDonald spent his early days with his grandparents at Finzean. Later, after leaving school, he entered the postal service at Stonehaven. With a keen interest in the Great Highland Bagpipe, he joined the 5th Volunteer Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders (Deeside) on the 21st December 1892. In 1905, he was promoted to Pipe Major of the 5th Battalion and when the 1/7th Battalion was formed he immediately transferred and formed the Stonehaven Pipe Band.
In August 1914, with this band and Major 'Billie' Riddoch, Rector of Mackie Academy leading 'D' Company 1/7th, they marched from Stonehaven to Banchory where for some time they mustered as a Battalion before proceeding to Bedford for further training. In May 1915, they set off for France, little knowing what was awaiting them.
After the end of the war, Pipe Major McDonald played a major role in reforming a territorial company at Stonehaven and a reasonably strong Pipe Band. The latter performed at many ceremonies, including the unveiling of the Aberdeen War Memorial and several in Kincardineshire. When the Battalion Headquarters was transferred to Bucksburn, Pipe Major McDonald retired. This, after 37 years, was in favour of one of his younger pipers, Pipe Major George Cruickshank.
Pipe Major McDonald has been succeeded by a further 15 Pipe Majors, all following in his extremely large brogues!
Although the traditions and goals of the Pipe Band have remained the same over the years, the tartan has changed. The first tartan worn, the Hunting Gordon, is the local tartan worn by the Gordon Highlanders. This changed to The Royal Stewart in 1965 when the Stewart family took charge of the band. In 1987, the tartan worn was once again changed, this time to Stewart of Appin. 1998 has, to date, seen the last change and the band currently wears the Modern Red Robertson tartan. The main reason for the change in tartan is largely due to wear and tear - an unavoidable outcome when most weekends are spent performing in all weathers, Summer and Winter.
The Band joined the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and began to compete, first locally and then further afield. Their first major success came in 1980 in the form of Grade 4 European Champions, under the leadership of Pipe Major Raymond Whyte.
From then on and under the leadership of Pipe Major Brian Elrick, there was no looking back. The band went from strength to strength and up the grades to the Premier grade, Grade 1. During this time, band members came from as far afield as Forres in the North and Kirriemuir and Kirkcaldy in the South. These dedicated musicians travelled twice weekly to practice, some completing round trips of over 200 miles on each occasion.