Malcolm was accepted by the Vancouver Police Department in 1929 and at the same time joined the band. Malcolm recalls that he gained considerable experience from his various associations in this band, and during the next few years thereafter, furthered his piping knowledge by studying with Donald MacIver, Archie MacIndewar and William Barrie.
Malcolm was made Pipe Sgt. of the very busy police band in 1942, and in 1945 succeeded Alex Johnson as Pipe Major. He led the band on many trips, parades, concerts and competitions during years when it was a first rate competing band. Malcolm retired from the Department in 1961 holding the rank of Sergeant. Malcolm also retired as Pipe Major of the band at the same time having been the P/M for the previous 16 years.
In1978, Pipe Major Malcolm Nicholson was awarded the Order of Canada (CM). This honour was not only the first awarded to a member of the British Columbia piping fraternity, but is unique among Canadian pipers. The accomplishments and the award itself identify the uniqueness of Malcolm Nicholson.
The first band that Nicholson organized was the Templeton Junior High School Boys Band. Around 1950 he became the instructor for the Vancouver Ladies Pipe Band which was a relationship he would continue until 1967. Malcolm organized the Vancouver Optimist Junior band in 1956, the band later becoming known as the White Spot Junior band. In 1958 he formed the Kiwanis Boys band, once again teaching all of the pipers, and developing the band into a competing unit. In 1967, it won the North American Junior Pipe Band Championship at the Maxville Games in Ontario and the Dominion championship at the Halifax Centennial Games.
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To accommodate the very young players, Malcolm organized the Highland Laddies band in 1964, and they too became active in the local competitions. He also organized the Army, Navy and Airforce Veterans band and the Burnaby Ladies Pipe Band, both in 1967.
Since 1934, Malcolm and his family have lived on Triumph Street in Vancouver. His home became a centre for the art for so many years with lessons, distribution of equipment, alteration of uniforms and many unforgettable parties taking place on the premises. It was therefore fitting that a group largely made up of his ex-pupils, who were organizing a competing band in 1971, used the street name as the band name. The Triumph Street Pipe Band has succeeded beyond all their expectations and served as another lasting tribute to their teacher and mentor.