The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Agony and ivory: US border officers seize 2 teens' bagpipes because they contain ivory

  • Print

CONCORD, N.H. - The skirl of their pipes had barely receded before two New Hampshire teenagers learned a hard lesson in cross-border musical diplomacy: If your bagpipes have ivory in them, leave them at home before travelling to Canada or risk having them seized at the border.

Campbell Webster of Concord and his friend Eryk Bean of Londonderry were returning from Canada on Sunday after a bagpipe competition that served as a tuneup for the world championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The 17-year-olds, fresh off winning several top prizes in Canada, got to a small border crossing in Vermont when they were told they'd have to relinquish their pipes because they contain ivory.

The U.S. prohibits importing ivory taken after 1976. Even though the boys had certificates showing their ivory is older — Campbell's pipes date to 1936 — U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized the pipes in Highgate Springs, Vermont. Well, not all of them: The boys took every other part possibly and left the ivory with the Border Patrol so nobody else could make a full set out of the parts.

"This has been an awful headache," said Lezlie Webster, Campbell's mother. "At one point at the Canadian border, they said, 'no way are we going to get our pipes back.'"

After contacting New Hampshire's congressional delegation and getting more than 3,000 signatures on an online petition, the boys are getting their pipes back and were set to fly from Boston to Scotland on Tuesday. But the hassle is lingering like a sour note: Lezlie Webster said the boys had to shell out $576 in extra fees because they took the pipes across the border at a "non-designated crossing."

"It feels really, really silly," she said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

Campbell has been playing the bagpipes for 13 years and this particular set belonged to his father, Gordon Webster, who was the 9th Sovereign Piper to her Majesty the Queen of England Elizabeth II. In other words, he wasn't playing "Amazing Grace" at the firemen's parade.

"I've been playing these certain pipes since around October of last year after he stopped," Campbell said. "His health went downhill. He gifted me those pipes and I've been keeping them going since then. You're judged on your pipes. And you can't find bagpipes like these anymore. They don't make them like this anymore."

There was a bright side: The change.org petition got hits from all over the world, and bagpipe makers and other musicians offered the boys the use of their instruments at the World Pipe Band Championships on Aug. 15-16 if necessary.

"Right now, I'm just trying to put it all behind me and thinking about how well this whole Scotland trip is going to go now that my friend and I have the pipes that we need," Campbell said.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Preview of Small Things at PTE Mainstage

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who will you vote for in Wednesday's mayoral race?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google