In a previous post Lauryn shared the process and challenges of searching for information on a trumpet in our Collection. There is more of a musical story to share connected with this artifact though. The original owner of the trumpet was O. Rex Porter who was Principal of Wolfville High School between 1940 and 1970, taking over from B.C. Silver who occupied the position starting in 1921 when the Munro Building was erected. Silver was a noted musician, educator and author, who became an inspector of schools, received a master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1966, and an honorary doctorate from Acadia. Silver’s interest in music was undoubtedly why Wolfville School had an orchestra when few if any schools in the province did. Tom Sheppard in his book “Historic Wolfville” (p.222) writes : Few young people who went through the Wolfville Schools could avoid music, which was important both in the school and in the town. By 1924, Wolfville High School had an orchestra, and many of the students who played in it and in the school’s cadet band kept an association with music throughout their lives.
The orchestra gave public concerts from a bandstand on Main Street in Wolfville. Silver’s contributions to Wolfville’s cultural life is material for a whole other post but here we will focus on our trumpet’s owner, O. Rex Porter, seen in the orchestra holding a cornet, who continued the musical tradition at Wolfville School which Silver had started. In 1936 he organised the Wolfville School Band. Their uniform was a yellow sweater with a crest containing a “W” and a blue lyre on the front, black pants, black wedge caps with two buttons and an embroidered “WB” on the left side near the front.
The band played at sports, school, and civic events. In 1942 it was renamed the Cadet Band with Rex Porter as bandleader. We have several photographs in our collection of the cadet bands over the years.
Tom Sheppard in “Historic Wolfville” (p.223) writes : Porter was the musical director of the band, recruiting the players, helping to select the instruments on which the boys focused, teaching them the basics of reading music: and conducting the band practices after school. He taught the cadets to march, to look after their uniforms, to keep their instruments polished, and to be ready for inspections. He prepared the band for parades, concerts and the Remembrance Day services in front of the post office, which were often memorable for cold weather, in which lips would freeze to mouthpieces. In 1950 the band came first in the Halifax Music Festival, competing against bands from Sydney, Liverpool and Yarmouth. The cadet band was a school ritual that continued to the 1960s, when it was changed to a bugle band.
A little more about Rex Porter:
Rex grew up in Wolfville son of Grant Porter , one of the brothers of Porter Brothers store.
He was married to Ruth Ingraham. who was a long time Historical Society member and one of the contributors to Mud Creek.
Rex did his education degree at U of T and came back to spend his entire career in Wolfville, mostly as principal. He died in 1975.