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St. John's West Toronto

100th Anniversary

at 288 Humbersode Avenue

The Carillon



 (technically, the CHIME; we are grateful to a number of interested visitors to the parish and to the web site who have pointed out that a carillon must have at least 23 bells. We have retained the terminology used by the author of this text for historical reasons. We plan to incorporate more information about the bells in future historical material, and to provide more accurate information. It should also be noted that the chime is in need of major repair and is currently not functioning. Plans are underway to restore them. )
The Chime is listed on the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America website. For more information about the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America and Church bells in general, press HERE.

  • An option in the architect’s plans included a belltower to house ten bells. It was decided to follow this plan during construction, and the bells were purchased from England, with the assistance of Dr. Jackson and T. W. Chadburn. The extra footings required used up the budgeted moneys, leaving the Narthex and Gallery to be finished later.

  • The Carillon was installed in 1924 and dedicated in April. The bells range in size from 50 inches to 18 inches in diameter. The "broom handle" keys are played by fist or open hand to ring the inside clappers. The outside clappers are operated by an electric clockwork system. The clappers were repaired in 1974, under the supervision of Gordon Slater, now Dominion Carillonneur in Ottawa.

  • The Carillon was first heard on Easter Day, April 20, 1924. The bells are classified as carillon because they are so assembled that they can be operated by one person, as opposed to individual change ringing. A modification of change ringing is provided by an electric drum, assuring that the heavy tenor bell finishes the ring change of the other nine.

  • The bells were cast by Gillett and Johnston, Croydon, England, and arrived in Toronto aboard the S.S. Bosworth. The largest bell weighs 2700 pounds. A companion set is housed in the tower of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Buffalo. Over the years, carillonneurs of the two churches have exchanged keyboard recitals.

  • In 1974, to mark the 50th anniversary of the installation of the bells, a series of recitals was held each Sunday in September during the noon hour. Homebound churchgoers throughout the area were able to enjoy the stirring tones of the Bells of St. John’s.

Originally published on the St. John's website in 2002

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