A Brief History

The Chicago Highlanders has a long and distinguished history. One of the first 33 bands formed in the United States; the Chicago Highlanders first played in the 1880’s and began again in 1921; and is now one of the oldest continuous established bagpipe bands in the United States.

The banner photo at the top of this page, was taken in 1923 in front of the Chicago Stock Yards. The inscription reads: Chicago Highlanders Pipe Band. 1923. Pipe Major R.H. Sim. and was taken by R. Millar, 1909 Lincoln Ave.

The band was formed by brothers, Robert and James Sim, both World War I veterans from the Scottish Regiments. Jim Sim was a drummer and Bob was the band’s first Pipe Major.
The band was invited to play at numerous events throughout Chicago including the 1933 World’s Fair.

In 1959, Queen Elizabeth II came to Chicago when the St. Lawrence river was opened to ocean traffic and all major cities on the Great Lakes became ocean ports. The Queen arrived on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The Chicago Highlanders were invited to play for the Queen at Navy Pier.

Seated next to Queen Elizabeth is the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.

In the photo to the right, the band is seen performing at the 1962 opening of Randhurst Mall in Mount Prospect, IL.

The Highlanders traveled as a group to Scotland in 2000, when they marched in the 10,000 Piper Millennium Parade in Edinburgh, and competed at the World’s at Glasgow Green.

The band would like to invite any past members who may have historical photos or information to share these by contacting our band manager.


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