Donald Felstrom [1931-2013]
Submitted by Joanne Felstrom for her late husband, Don.
Don was born on June 11th, 1931. He was raised in Watrous where he helped with the family dairy and in Saskatoon where he helped with the family grocery store. In Saskatoon, he attended Nutana Collegiate, and later earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Saskatchewan, a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of British Columbia, and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Manitoba.
Don worked as a social worker in various locations throughout Saskatchewan and later in the health field as Administrator of Wascana Hospital and later Director of Extended Care with the Department of Health in Regina (SHSP). Don served in the Canadian Militia for 33 years
Don moved from Watrous to Saskatoon when he was in grade 8. He sat in Gordie Howe’s old desk at school, but he said it didn’t improve his hockey game. When he went to high school at Nutana Collegiate, he met a boy named Ken McDonald who told Don that he was learning to play the bagpipes and was going out to the armouries once a week for lessons. He wondered if Don was interested in joining him. Don had never heard of the bagpipes, but when he heard that once you were of age for the military and could join the band you got paid for learning, he decided it was worth exploring.
He went with Ken and found the North Saskatchewan Regiment Pipe Band at practice. After practice with Pipe-Major Hugh Fraser, a World War II vet worked with beginners. Hugh’s half-brother Don McDonald was also a beginning piper, and the two Dons became life-long friends. Don Felstrom had studied piano for several years and had a good ear, so learning the music and playing chanter was relatively easy for him. The pipes were another natter, but he mastered it all quite quickly and was able to play with the band. From that time forward, if Don left Saskatoon, his pipes went with him.
When Don went to Yorkton to live for several years, there was no pipe band. He found that the Postmaster was a piper and the two of them worked with the Air Cadets to establish and teach a very credible Air Cadet Pipe Band that played at events such as Remembrance Day.
In Regina, Don joined the Royal Canadian Artillery Band and played with them until the army told him he had to retire at age 55. After that he joined and enjoyed being a member of the WaWa Shrine Pipe Band for as long as he was able to play.
During his years in Regina, Don went to three world curling events: one in Garmisch Partenkerkin, Germany; one in Berne, Switzerland and another in Sweden. He particularly enjoyed the trip to Sweden as he was able to visit with cousins who spoke perfect English.
During his last few years, his grandson Ezra decided to learn the pipes, which made Don very happy. He would be both proud and pleased to know that Ezra now plays with the City of Regina Pipe Band as does his brother Cyrus, a drummer.
In 2011, Don was presented with a Volunteer Recognition Award by the SPBA for his over 65 years in pipe bands. He started his piping with pal Don McDonald in the Saskatoon Light Infantry and went on to be a part of many bands, including the 10th Field Regiment and the Wa Wa Shrine Pipe Band in Regina.
Don Felstrom (left) stands next to his life-long friend, Don McDonald as they receive an award from the Saskatchewan Pipe Band Association celebrating their 65 years of pipe bands.
Don gives a nod to the photographer.