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Rev. Dr. Farquhar McRae and Mrs. McRae who administered to the spiri tual needs of settlers in rural areas.
At an early age, James evinced interest in music, favoring violin and piano, and directing the Burnside Presbyterian Choir 1908- 1909. Later moving to Portage, he took up serious study in organ, piano and theory. To further his musical knowledge he later went to Winnipeg where he studied under eminent teachers.
By 1914 he was ready for his first major appointment and went to Brandon where he took over the duties of organist and Director of First United Church and Grace Methodist Church re spectively.
When his services were needed in Portage in 1920, he returned here and has been organist and Director in the Knox Presbyterian Church (which is now the United Church) ever since.
Mr. James D. McRae has over 30 compositions to his credit, sixteen of which have been published. These include vocal solos (sacred and secular), organ, violin and piano; also anthems, and Cantata - "The Passion of Christ", a work hailed by eminent critics highly. All the published compositions have been used in Canada and the U.S.A., and some were even performed in England.
Mr. McRae is a Music Bachelor and an Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, each secured by examinations. He has taught singing, organ and theory for many years in this area and is still active.
Portage has certainly been enriched by the presence of this clever musician through the years that he has been with us.
From the days of the early settlers, when house parties shortened long, lonely, winter evenings and dancers stepped in tempo to tunes played on a 'fiddle', a 'mouth-organ' or a comb wrapped in tissue paper through which someone hummed a tune, Portage has been blessed with musicians. Each in their own way, and each to a greater or lesser degree, have contributed to the social life, entertain ment and musical edification of Portagers.
The first brass band west of Winnipeg was organized and directed by Edwy William Snider, whose musical family formed the major portion, in 1880. Upon hearing this band, the public were instantly interested in seeing it succeed and also enlarged. Anyone with any talent and band ambition was encouraged to go to Edwy Snider for tutelage, and la tcr a trend band practice. These practice periods took place in the Snider home. It became almost a regular