Fifty years ago, our beautiful pipe organ was heard in this sanctuary for the first time. It was built especially for this space by Casavant Freres of Ste Hyacinthe, Quebec. It travelled to Winnipeg by train and was installed here during the summer of 1958. Photographs in the hallway just outside the sanctuary show the instrument as it appeared at the time. All the pipes were housed in the tower based on the architects’ plans but certainly not with the blessing of the organ builder! A curtain covered all but a few ranks at the front of the tower opening. The curtain must have made a poor acoustical situation even worse.
In 1981, the organ was completely dismantled and re-built in its current location, with the Great division on either side of the stained glass windows on the north wall and the other three divisions (Swell, Choir and Pedal) moved closer to the tower opening above the chancel. This resulted in a considerable improvement in the projection of sound into the church.
The organ has three manuals and 39 stops. There are 2251 pipes of which about two thirds are visible from the chancel. The original purchase price was $36,000. The 1981 alterations cost $24,000. The replacement value as of 2006 was $617,000.
In September 1958, Helen Young had just taken over as organist from long-serving Jessie Kennedy. In 1966, Douglas Bodle became organist, followed by John Derksen in 1968, Lawrence Ritchey in 1969, Audrey Belyea in 1971, Linda Fearn in 1986 and Wes Elias in 2009. We are indeed blessed to have such a wonderful instrument to lead in worship.