Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

The city of Fergus in southern Ontario is not shy about its Scottish heritage.

It’s known for its annual cultural festival and Highland Games, its established pipe band, Scottish flags along the streets – and now, regular outdoor shows from avid piper Peter Hummel.

Famously known as Peter Piper, of course, Hummel plays several nights a week as a tribute to frontline workers.

“The purpose of me was to gather support for them,” Hummel told CBC News.

The pipe started this tradition at the beginning of the pandemic and has since built up a sense of community in its neighborhood during a period of isolation. His shows have wide reach as they are also livestreamed.

“We have become our own little family in this place,” he said.

The intention was to spread joy, but some neighbors would rather not hear the pipes ring out.

Some even filed formal noise complaints, which eventually sprouted into a kind of neighbor feud.

Hummel says he has heard complaints here and there in the last few years, but they increased with the pandemic. (Pelin Sidki / CBC)

Statutory complaints

Over the summer, Hummel said he received four visits from Ontario provincial police officers and one visit from the Center Wellington Statute, which informed him of the complaints.

Bylaw officials confirmed to CBC News that Hummel was told he was not violating any rules and the visit was more of an educational interaction.

“He’s completely within his right to do so,” said Kirk McElwain, Ward 2 councilor for Center Wellington. “You must not make loud, amplified music after 11 pm. You are not allowed to do that [make any] other noises that may affect your neighbors after 6 p.m. 21, but at. 19 there is no real statute. “

Hummel plays at 19:30 ET.

Kirk McElwain, councilor in Division 2 for Center Wellington, says Hummel is not breaking any bylaws. “You must not make loud, amplified music after 11 pm. You are not allowed to do that [make any] other noises that may affect your neighbors after 6 p.m. 21, but at. 19 there is no real statute. ” (Hala Ghonaim / CBC)

Piper said he used to hear the odd verbal remark from a neighbor as he practiced over the years, but it got worse during the pandemic.

“Lots of vulgarity, lots of gangs, air horns going, quasi-threats about where the bagpipes could go,” he said.

The answer

Hummel said he promised to keep playing until the pandemic ends when it is.

So the shows have to go on – but not without answering these complaints.

With the help of a friend, Hummel made lawn signs that read in bold: “STIRING IS NOT A CRIME #SUPPORTYOURLOCALPIPER”.

Rob Splinter is one of two neighbors who confirmed to CBC News that they filed formal noise complaints. (Pelin Sidki / CBC)

“The signs should really be a little … for fun. Everyone knows that piping is not a crime,” he said. “Like no musician, no pipe, no drummer should be afraid to go into their backyard to rehearse. And there are many of them in this city.”

To his surprise, Hummel sold more than 85 signs and donated all the proceeds to a local charity that helps rural women in crisis.

“So it was a bit like a win-win,” he said.

‘I do not like bagpipes’

Rob Splinter said he laughed when he saw these signs around his neighborhood. He is one of two people who told CBC News that they filed formal noise complaints.

With the help of a friend, Hummel came up with this sign, selling more than 85 and donating the proceeds to charity. (Pelin Sidki / CBC)

“Piping is not a crime, but I think disturbing your neighbors may not be a crime, but it needs to be dealt with,” Splinter said.

He said he feels strongly about both wheezing and his downtime.

“I do not like bagpipes. It is a very annoying noise and it’s just me. I do not like it,” he said, noting that the main problem is when Hummel practices in his backyard, which is close to his.

“I can not watch TV, I have to close the windows … and my mother lives with me too, and she does not like the bagpipes either. Nothing is against bagpipes if you want to play them, but respect your neighbors.”

Another neighbor, who did not want to be interviewed on camera, said the noise was disturbing. The neighbor, who is a key employee, said they did not appreciate the performances.

A member of The Guelph Pipe Band joined Hummel’s evening show on Tuesday. (Pelin Sidki / CBC)

Splinter admitted that he expressed his frustration in unique ways.

“Yes, I swore to him a few times and it’s just out of frustration because he would not stop. I’m sorry I did, but I think if he wants to be ignorant, I will be ignorant back.

“If he started playing in his backyard, I would. It seems a little weird, but I would put my speaker in the window and I would play my music and turn it up so I would drown him,” he admitted.

Splinter said he has not had a reason to complain recently as Hummel has downplayed the training sessions in the backyard.

Positive community response

Hummel said he hopes some sort of solution has been reached, at least now.

Despite the complaints, he said, his shows have achieved what they set out to do: Support frontline workers and unite the community.

“It’s a small community with a massive heart, and people care.”

Hummels neighbors Mary Wilso on the left and Rosemary Bowles on the right say the shows have brought the community together. (Pelin Sidki / CBC)

Neighbors and supporters who walked down the street to hear Hummel play Tuesday say the shows resonated with them.

“I loved it, loved it,” Rosemary Bowles said.

“None of us knew each other before this, so since Pete has been playing, it’s brought us together and we’re a big family now,” said Mary Wilson.

“I appreciate this because I live in a group home and it’s just so nice that someone has the heart to do it,” Aimee Olivier added.

“It was very, very good. Glad I came out to enjoy it,” Tom Huxley said.

As for Hummel, he plans to continue the evening shows until he no longer has to, he says.

SE | The nation’s feature on Fergus bagpipes on Monday, October 11 at. 9pm on the CBC News Network and 10pm local time on your CBC TV station. You can also catch The National online at CBC Gem.

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