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St. John's West Toronto

100th Anniversary

at 288 Humbersode Avenue

The Organ


  • In 1891, a Vocalion, believed to be a reed organ, manufactured by Mason and Risch, was accepted on a trial basis. A decision was made to purchase the instrument, thereby creating a constant problem with payments. ...

  • It was decided in 1893 to inform Mason and Risch of the inability to keep up the ten-dollar [per month] payments. A house-to-house collection was made by the women to reduce the debt. In the meantime, a delegation was directed to look into another type of organ. ...

  • By 1903 Miss Harris was earning $100 per year as organist, and $120 as Deaconess. In 1904 the salary of the "organ blower" was increased from $13 to $20 per year. ...

  • The subject of the organ is absent from the records until 1909, when a vestry report states that "the balance owing on the pipe organ is due, and the church from which the organ was purchased is pressing for the amount of $450."

  • David Legge has provided information relating to this instrument. It was built by the Lye Organ Co., Toronto. Mr. Lye Sr., played the bells at St. James Cathedral for many years. Air pressure for playing the pipes was provided by volunteers working a pump handle. Usually a choir boy did the pumping, and the choice rested with the one who showed up first. ...

  • In 1910, the Vestry voted $200 to provide motive power for blowing the pipes. Also, in appreciation for the great strides in achievement, "a grant of fifteen dollars is to be made and set apart to banquet the choir." By the year 1911, the Women’s Guild was able to provide $250 for the installation of a motor. It is said that if Percy MacDonald [Organist and Choirmaster for 40 years, from 1923 to 1963] had run out of gum and string the whole organ would have fallen apart. ...

  • In 1923 the organ was moved to its present location. The work was done by C. Franklin Legge Co., who have been in charge of maintenance, alteration and rebuilding ever since [i.e. to at least 1981].

  • 1947 saw the replacement of choir pews by Globe Furniture, Kitchener. The pipe organ was rebuilt, using the old pipes and case work, with new working parts. The console was moved from the Epistle side to the Gospel side of the Chancel in 1950.

  • A set of Warren Organ Co. Trumpets was added in 1953. This set had been made in Woodstock, Ontario, for Augustine Methodist Church, Winnipeg, about 1910.

  • The twelve 16-foot Trombone pipes came to St. John’s by a circuitous route. The belonged originally to Warren organ, installed in Erskine Methodist Church, Montreal, about 1906. In 1936, this instrument was replaced by a new Legge organ. The Warren organ was purchased by Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto. There it was dismantled in 1956, and the Trombones came to St. John’s.

  • The Chimes, operated from the console, were given in 1961 by Alex Ogden, in memory of Ada Gertrude and Colin Ogden.

  • Other additions to the organ:

  • 1959 - cleaning, building frames, Swell shutters

    • - Casavant Melodia from Renfrew

    • - Oboe from Saskatoon, made in the mid-twenties

    • - Dulciana and Gamba basses

    • - changing of Celeste

  • 1961 - Deagon Chimes from Chicago, no longer available

  • 1962 - replacement of Chancel case

    • - new pipes from Heyhusan, Holland

    • - Trumpets, made in Germany, from St. George’s on the Hill

  • 1966 - Choir Organ, in memory of Percy Wicker MacDonald

    • - revoiced Clarinet and new Piccolo

  • 1981 - Pedal Dulciana, Breckels and Matthews, 1911, from Parkdale United.

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

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