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114-year-old still has a good set of pipes (organ at St. Columba by-the-Lake, Pointe Claire, Quebec).

This year marks a noteworthy anniversary for the congregation of St. Columba by-the-Lake Church, Pointe Claire, Quebec -- the 20th anniversary of the "rebirth" of its church organ.

In 1977, Rev. Paul Scott, the current minister of St. Columba by-the-Lake, Rev. Allen Aicken and Bob Calhoun travelled to a small church in Waterville, New York, to purchase an organ they had heard of through the Organ Clearing House, an organization dedicated to the preservation of antique church organs. Built in 1883, the organ was one of 150 constructed by John Marklove in a workshop in Utica, New York. At $2,000, it was available for a song. A new organ would have cost $150,000.

The three men dismantled the organ, transported it back to Pointe Claire and then handed out the parts to members of the congregation who stripped the parts down to their natural wood. Five months later, St. Columba by-the-Lake owned the oldest functioning pipe organ on the Island of Montreal. Of special interest is the stencilled painting found on each of the organ's 557 pipes, a technique that disappeared in the 1930s.

Michael McAuley, music director at St. Columba by-the-Lake since 1989, says he gets a thrill playing such an old instrument. "Because of its age, it has a unique sound and a certain quaint charm," he says.

To celebrate the anniversary of the organ's rebirth, the congregation held a recital on June 1, featuring Bruce Wheat-croft, one of Montreal's leading church organists. The recital was dedicated to Bob Calhoun, who died in January at the age of 90. (Compiled from an article by Derek Cassoff in the Chronicle, a weekly newspaper serving the West Island of Montreal.)
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Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Nov 1, 1997
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