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Bernie Burke Auditorium

Bernie Burke

1923 – 2002

On May 9, 2011  the auditiorum at The Hall was dedicated to long time Bandmaster Bernie Burke.  
Bernard (Bernie) Burke was born June 28, 1923 in Joggins, NS to a family which loved music and he exhibited musical talents early on.  He began piano studies at age 8 with his mother and joined the Joggins Town Band at the  age of 12.

 Bernie volunteered for military service when he was still underage: 17 and went to Camp Parkdale in New Glasgow and then to Camp Borden for tank training with the Algonquin Regiment. He saw active service in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, remaining in Europe until the completion of hostilities in 1945.  As a serving member he honed his musical abilities when he was appointed ‘unit bugler’, a dubious honour at best.

 After the war he returned to Pictou to finish his education, moving to Parrsboro in 1947 to work at Smiths Funeral Home and his father’s restaurant.    Shortly thereafter he assumed the position as bandmaster of the Parrsboro Citizens’ Band, a position in  which he remained for the next 50 years, molding the youth of the community through two generations.  His gentle, selfless, yet demanding demeanor was responsible  for hundreds of young people gaining a proficiency in  and appreciation of music  As band master he was responsible almost singlehandedly  for the band's reputation as one of the Maritimes most renowned  concert and marching ensembles.

 Deeply committed to his community, he was bandmaster, training officer and commanding officer of Parrsboro Sea Cadet Corps and official bugler of the R.C. Legion Br. #45,  of which he was a life member.  He served as choir director and organist at St. Brigid's Church for over 40 years and was organist for the Springhill Institution for 10 years. He was a member of the Parrsboro Volunteer Fire Dept., and President of the Parrsboro Junior Chamber of Commerce.  Known as one of Nova Scotia's most renowned bandsmen he also served as President of the Canadian Bandmasters Association.

 A selfless volunteer, generous to a fault with his time and talents, in 1987 he was recognized when he was named Parrsboro Citizen of the Year.

Following his retirement from directing the band he continued his joy with music by playing with the Sackville Citizens' Band and the Elastic Big Band, occupying his time refurbishing instruments and maintaining a music library which at the time was unrivalled in the Maritimes.


This life of dedication to music and community we recognize with the dedication of the main auditorium of his beloved Citizens’ Band as

The Bernie Burke Auditorium.