John Thow is thought to have made bagpipes as early as 1853. He died in 1879 and his son David continued making bagpipes until his death in 1916. David's sons, John and George continued the business as Thow Brothers. John died in 1923 and George died in 1940. Thow Brothers continued to make bagpipes until 1952. The firm was apparently run by George's daughter Marjorie Thow and perhaps a brother, George W R Thow.
According to Jeanne Campbell, John Thow was listed as a musical instrument maker begining in 1853. From 1874 to 1878 he is listed as a bagpipe and violin maker, as well as his other skills and trades. A violin bearing a paper label (inside the body) that reads "J. Thow Dundee" is pictured to the left.
The following pictures are of what is thought to be a very early Thow bagpipe. Taking into consideration the known history of the bagpipe it was probably made by John Thow.
The original chanter (which matched this set) was stamped "Thow" and is therefore accepted as reliable authentication of the bagpipe itself.
The bagpipe came to Canada in 1880 from Nairnshire Scotland. They were the property of James McIntosh who eventually settled in a small village close to Cowansville, Quebec, although at that time is was called Freeport. James was a blacksmith and distinguished himself making plows.
This bagpipe appears to have some replacement parts however it is still an excellent exhibit. The combing is filled with sediment and they have obviously been over-coated. The present owner is the great grandson of James McIntosh.
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