Pipe Organs of British Columbia




When compared with many other provinces and countries, the history of B.C.’s extant organs may seem rather short and trivial, but it is, nevertheless, a significant one. In terms of expectation towards size and numbers, perhaps one’s sights need to be lowered, but a well-built organ doesn’t necessarily have to be a large one, nor are all organs well-built. Since the mid-1800’s churches, universities, theatres, funeral homes and residences in British Columbia have acquired a most interesting cross section of various types and makes of organs. It is surprising to note how inconsistent with one another the churches have been when selecting their instruments. Some of the most unusual organs have been placed in some of the most unlikely locations. At present, B.C. has a few internationally historic instruments and several more potentially historic and quite unique organs. Some of these instruments have been rebuilt or enlarged, and from a historian’s point of view, this can be all right provided that the original builder’s pipes, voicing, and successful action ideas can be left intact wherever possible. There are some historic instruments that badly need proper restoration and unfortunately several examples that have been changed all too often to the latest by committees and builders who do not appreciate what they have. Sometimes a lack of funds is a good thing for the sake of the preservation of older organs. Temptation to change may be stifled and if they were well-built to begin with, occasional trouble-shooting and minor repairs may be all that is necessary to set things right. All too often, well-built examples of man’s ingenuity have succumbed to modernization or destruction for the sake of change. Only within the past few years, have some people realized and been effective in saving a little of this heritage. Regardless of how short this heritage might have been, I believe it is our obligation to preserve some concrete examples of it for future generations to understand and appreciate.

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