Frances (Fran) Chilton-Mackay

Frances (Fran) Chilton-Mackay

Lifetime Contribution

Lieutenant-Colonel Frances (Fran) Chilton-Mackay, OMM, MSM, CD has used her talent and enthusiasm for music throughout her career to inspire and share with others the joy of performing music.  The citizens of Ottawa have been the beneficiaries of her hard work and dedication over the years through bands under her direction that have brought music into our lives.

LCol Chilton-MacKay recently retired from the Canadian Armed Forces having served as the Senior Staff Officer Army Bands responsible to the Commander of the Army and as the Director of Music of the Governor General’s Foot Guards Band from 2005 – 2016.  She began her military career in 1976 as a Reserve musician with the 7th Toronto Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery Band and later the Governor General’s Foot Guards Band, while she was studying at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.

In 1987, Fran Chilton-Mackay was commissioned as an officer and she held various positions with the Canadian Forces at National Defence Headquarters.   In 1991, she became the Band Administration Officer for the Governor General’s Foot Guard Regimental Band.  In 1994, she assumed the first appointment of G1 Bands for 33 Canadian Brigade Group and, in 2000 was promoted to the rank of Major and accepted the position of Inspector Reserve Bands and Reserve Band Advisor for all Canadian Forces Reserve Bands.  In 2003, she was chosen to assume the newly created position of Staff Officer Army Bands reporting to the Commander of the Army.  In this capacity, one of her primary tasks was the coordination of the restructure of the Army Reserve Bands within the Army Reserve Restructure project.  In 2005, she was accorded her Regiment’s greatest honour when she was appointed the first female Director of Music of the Regimental Band.  Under her direction the Regimental Band has flourished, performing widely across the Nation’s Capital for significant military, political and civilian events.  She was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the Commander of the Army in September 2008 and assumed the additional responsibility as the Army Major Events Planner, including being the Chairman of the annual Army Ball and Army Week activities.

LCol Chilton-Mackay was awarded the Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Military) Certificate of Achievement in May 2001 for her involvement in the repatriation ceremonies of the Unknown Soldier; the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for her service to the community; and two Command Commendations by the Chief of Land Staff in 2006 and 2009 for her significant contribution to the Army.

For her lifetime commitment to music and the advancement of musical pursuits within the Canadian Forces, she was invested as an Officer in the Order of Military Merit in May 2007 and was subsequently awarded the Canadian Forces Meritorious Service Medal in May 2010 – both honours bestowed by the Governor General.   LCol Chilton-Mackay received the Chancellor’s Commendation in 2007 from the Chancellor of The Priory of Canada of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem for the continued musical advice and support she has provided to St. John.  In June 2014, she was appointed a Member of the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem by His Excellency David Johnston Prior of the Priory of Canada.

In addition to her military service, Fran Chilton-MacKay also had a career as a teacher.  She taught instrumental music in London and Brampton ON, and in 1986, she moved to Ottawa and taught music at J.S. Woodsworth Secondary School in Nepean.  In addition to her normal teaching load, she assumed the job of selecting, training, and organizing the school’s Junior and Senior Concert Band, as well as the Senior Dixie Combo for many years.  Her enthusiasm for music, plus her patience and perseverance when dealing with high school students, resulted in students at every grade performing at high levels that brought them a sense of self-accomplishment and pride, and for the J.S. Woodsworth community as well.  Bands under the direction of Fran Chilton-MacKay competed in regional and national music festival competitions.  Her Junior and Senior Concert bands regularly brought home Music Fest gold standard national music awards signifying that “an Ensemble has achieved excellence in all facets of its performance.”  In 2019, Fran Chilton-MacKay was asked by Music Fest Canada to serve on their adjudicator/clinician team that “evaluates, encourages, enhances and broadens the musicality of each group and every individual participating at the national festival.  Those on the team are foremost in their fields, and represent the highest standards of their professions, be it in a classroom setting or on a performance stage.”

In recognition to her service to the community, Fran Chilton-MacKay received the City of Nepean Distinguished Service Award for Arts & Culture in 1999, the City of Nepean 2000 Medal, and the 2000 Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s Director’s Citation for her exemplary contribution to the school board.

Ms. Chilton-MacKay is a clarinettist and through her vision, imagination, coordination and indefatigable work ethic, she continues to this day to direct Ottawa’s own Centralaires Concert Band into a highly proficient standard of performance.