The Organ

The Guilbault-Thérien Organ of St. Andrew’s Church, Ottawa

(47 stops, 63 ranks, three manuals and pedals, Opus 27, 1987)

Great (II) 56 notes, C-g’’’
Quintaton 16’ (1-12: EP)
Principal 8’ (1-12: EP)
Rohrflöte 8’ (*1894)
Octave 4’
Spitzflöte 4’
Quinte 2 2/3’ *1894
Octave 2’
Cornet V (mounted, c-d’’’)
Mixture V (1 1/3’)
Trompette 8’
Clairon 4’

Swell (III) enclosed, 56 notes, C-g’’’
Lieblich Bourdon 16’ (1-30: EP) *1894
Principal 8’ (1-8: EP) *1894
Viole de gambe 8’ (1-8: EP) *1911
Voix céleste 8’ (TC) *1938
Bourdon 8’ *1874
Spitz Principal 4’
Nason 4’
Waldflöte 2’
Plein jeu V (2’)
Fagott 16’ (1-30: EP)
Trompette 8’ *1911
Hautbois 8’
Clairon 4’ *1938

Positiv (I) 56 notes, C-g’’’
Gedeckt 8’ (*1874)
Quintadena 8’
Principal 4’
Spillflöte 4’
Nazard 2 2/3’
Gemshorn 2’
Tierce 1 3/5’
Quintflöte 1 1/3’
Cymbal III-IV (1’)
Cromorne 8’

Pedal 30 notes, C-f’
Principal Bass 16’ *1874 & 1911
Subbass 16’ *1874
Lieblich Bourdon 16’ (Swell, EP) *1894
Octave Bass 8’ *1911
Bourdon 8’ *
Choralbass 4’ *1911
Nachthorn 2’ *1938
Mixture IV (2 2/3’) *1938
Contrafagotto 32’ * (1st octave new; 1874,1911)
Posaune 16’ * 1911
Fagott 16’ (Swell, EP)
Trompete 8’
Clairon 4’ *1911

* Pipes or resonators retained from previous instruments. (*): only 1st octave retained.

Couplers: Swell to Great; Positiv to Great; Swell to Positiv; Swell to Pedal; Great to Pedal; Positiv to Pedal

Action: Mechanical (tracker) key action, with electro-pneumatics where indicated (EP) Electric stop action on slider chests; Crescendo pedal

Combination system: Solid State Logic, including 8 memory levels, 8 general combination pistons (duplicated by toe studs), 5 divisional thumb pistons under each manual. Plein Jeu and Tutti toe studs (programmable)

Tuning: Equal temperament, A440 at 23°C

Wind pressure: ~50 mm

Brief History

The first instrument installed in the organ loft of St. Andrew’s Church was inaugurated with the opening of this building on January 25, 1874.  A hand-pumped tracker organ of 21 ranks with two manuals and pedals by Samuel R. Warren & Co. of Montréal, it was built at a cost of $3200 and was “pronounced to be the finest organ of its size ever turned out by this builder” (Ottawa Citizen, January 27, 1874).  The specifications were as follows:

Great  56 notes, C-g’’’
16′ Double Open Diapason [TC], metal
8′ Open Diapason, metal
8′ Dulciana [TC], metal
8′ Melodia [Treble] [TC?], wood
8′ Stopped Diapason Bass [C-B?], wood
4′ Harmonic Flute, metal
4′ Principal, metal
2′ Fifteenth, metal
III Mixture, metal
8′ Posaune, metal

Pedal  30 notes, C-f’
16′ Double Open Diapason, wood
16′ Bourdon, wood

Swell  56 notes, C-g’’’
8′ Open Diapason (lower 8ve grooved into
Stopped Diapason), metal
8′ Viol de Gamba [TC], metal
8′ Stopped Diapason Treble [TC?], wood
8′ Stopped Diapason Bass [C-B?]
4′ Violina, metal
2′ Flautina (Harmonic), metal
II Mixture [metal]
8′ Cornopean, metal

3 Great and 2 Swell Composition Pedals
Mechanical Registers:  Sw/Gt, Gt/Ped, Sw/Ped; Tremolo to Swell; Bellows signal
Mechanical action, hand pumped.  Console built into main case.

A Record of the Organists and Choir Directors

In the several published histories of St. Andrew’s Church there has never been a list of the many musicians who have served as Organists and Choir Directors, and only a small handful have been referred to by name. This record serves as a tribute to their time and energies devoted to the worship of St. Andrew’s Church, Ottawa.


James Lawrence Orme 1867-1874
The first organist of St. Andrew’s Church was James Lawrence Orme who was born about 1812 in Dumbarton, Scotland. He was a businessman in Lanarkshire until 1859 when he came to Upper Canada and settled in Belleville in 1861. It was there that he set up his first music shop, selling pianos, melodeons, parlour organs and sheet music. In 1866 he moved his business to Sparks Street, Ottawa and joined the congregation of St. Andrew’s Church just as it was about to introduce an organ into its worship. In January 1867 Orme became the first paid Organist and Choir Director, although he was never listed as such in the Annual Reports. The organ that he played in the old kirk was probably a large reed organ from his store. When the present church was dedicated in January 1874 it was graced with a pipe organ of two manuals and pedals by Samuel Warren of Montreal. Orme’s delight at having a wonderful new instrument to play was short-lived, however: just three days after the opening service, a letter appeared in the Ottawa Free Press questioning Orme’s competence at the new organ and signed by “A Member”. Orme was vigourously defended in the following day’s edition by his minister, Rev. D.M. Gordon, but he tendered his resignation a month later. In his mid-sixties by that time, Orme must have realized that it was probably too late to acquire the pedal technique necessary to bring out the full potential of this instrument, and we must remember that there were no organs in the Church of Scotland at the time when he would have been acquiring his musical skills. After the death of his wife in 1882, James L. Orme retired with his daughters to Langside, Scotland where he passed away on May 17, 1893. His music store, J.L. Orme and Son, continued on under the guidance of George L. and Matthew Orme and remains today as Orme’s Furniture.

Richard Watson Baxter 1874-1879
Richard Watson Baxter took over the organ loft from J.L. Orme in March 1874. Baxter was born in 1836 in Ontario to a Weslyan Methodist family from England, and prior to his appointment at St. Andrew’s had been the Choir Director of Metcalfe Street Methodist Church (later Dominion Methodist). A career civil servant, Baxter was an accountant in the Finance Department. He remained at St. Andrew’s for 5 years, and after his resignation in 1879 does not appear to have held another church post in Ottawa. He died in Ottawa on May 7, 1904 and is buried in Beechwood Cemetery.

James Arthur Seybold 1879-1890
At a time when most organists in Canada were imported from England, St. Andrew’s Church hired another native son, the 20 year-old James Arthur Seybold, in September 1879. Seybold was born in Montreal in 1859 and was the organist of Erskine Church in that city at the age of sixteen. He followed his brother Edward to Ottawa in 1878 and led a very successful career as a hardware merchant, becoming director of Starke Seybold Hardware. His name is also found in the list of team members of the Ottawa Football Club, the precursors to the Ottawa Rough Riders. During his time at St. Andrew’s, the first Choir Soloists were engaged (the Elwood sisters, Mary and Margaret) and the 1880 Hymnal was adopted for use by the congregation.. Seybold served as organist for just over 10 years, then joined the Choir after his resignation and sang under two of his successors, also serving as interim organist at Christ Church in 1891. He was a son-in-law of lumber baron and St. Andrew’s member J.R. Booth through his marriage to Lila Booth and lived at the magnificent Booth House on 232 Metcalfe Street until his death (which occurred at Lansdowne Park where he was attending a Rough Riders game) on October 27, 1928.

Frederick Charles Smythe 1890; 1891-1895
After Seybold’s resignation in February 1890, Frederick Charles Smythe took up his duties at the organ console in the following month. Forty-three years old and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Smythe had been organist at St. George’s and St. James’ Churches in Belfast before being lured away to become Director of the Canadian College of Music in Ottawa. The vacancy at St. Andrew’s appeared shortly after his arrival and the elders of the church must have been pleased to have acquired their first trained musician to the position, but three months later Smythe left to become Organist and Choir Master of Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal.

A.S. Houghton 1890
After a summer of music led by church member and music teacher Mabel Ingall the church then engaged A.S. Houghton, another graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. In an unfortuante reprise of events, Houghton resigned after three months! Smythe was contacted, agreed to return to St. Andrew’s (the commute between the two cities to fulfill both his academic and church positions must have been rather wearing in those days) and was back in the organ loft in March 1891. Smythe oversaw the rebuilding of the organ in 1894 by Charles Warren. He was a well-loved figure on the burgeoning musical scene of Ottawa in the 1890’s, and so it was with great sadness that the city bade him farewell in April 1895 as he and his wife – who was suffering from chronic asthma – returned to Belfast for the sake of her health.

Frank M.S. Jenkins 1895-1909
The next organist of St. Andrew’s was one of its most locally renowned musicians, although he always considered himself an amateur practitioner. Frank Maurice Stinson (F.M.S.) Jenkins was born in Kingston in 1859 and came to Ottawa with his family around 1870. He worked as a clerk in the Post Office Department from 1883 until 1928, but his achievements in the realm of community music associations were impressive: Founder and Condutor of the Ottawa Choral Society and the Ottawa Amateur Orchestral Society, and Conductor of the Schubert Club. He had studied the organ with Christ Church organist J.W.F. Harrison, and was organist of Knox Church (1886-1887) and Dominion Methodist (1887-1895). At both of these churches he was in charge of brand new Warren organs, and so the pull of St. Andrew’s, with its new three-manual organ, seems completely understandable. He was married to Annie Lampman, a superb pianist, music teacher, Organist of St. George’s Anglican Church and sister of the great poet (and Post Office employee) Archibald Lampman. Jenkins instigated an annual presentation of Staner’s Crucifixion on Good Friday, organized a church orchestra and performed challenging repertoire on the organ. His tenure was 14 years, and might have been longer but for the criticisms of some vocal members of the congregation which prompted his abrupt resignation in March 1909. He served the congregation of Glebe Presbyterian Church briefly before taking up the post of Organist of St. John’s Anglican in 1910, his last known position as organist. After many years of ill health he died in Ottawa on December 5, 1930. His daughter Dorothy Jenkins McCurry was a noted vocal soloist and teacher in Ottawa.

Dr. Edward E. Harper 1909-1910
After F.M.S. Jenkins’ departure in 1909, St. Andrew’s again looked abroad for a professional musician, and in September 1910 Dr. Edward E. Harper arrived in Ottawa from Southport, Lancashire, England. Born in 1863 in Staffordshire, Harper had a successful career as a teacher and organist and had married in 1895, but prior to his departure for Canada his wife Elizabeth died suddenly, leaving three children aged 6 to 12 in the sole care of their father travelling to a new country. Dr. Harper assuaged his grief by busying himself with music, giving the dedicatory recital on the new organ of Glebe Presbyterian in January 1910, and in the same month travelling to Toronto for the inaugural meeting of the Canadian Guild of Organists (now the Royal Canadian College of Organists) of which he was an Executive. Life at St. Andrew’s Church, however, was becoming difficult: the choir – still smarting from the Jenkins affair – had registered their unhappiness, and in March Dr. Harper was asked to resign. Claiming that he had a two year contract, he sued the church for his second year of salary which he received along with a certificate conveying “best wishes” for his “future prosperity” (Moir, p. 140). In September 1910 he moved his little family to Vancouver where he re-married and remained until his death in 1939 at the age of 75.

J. Edgar Birch 1910-1931
After the turmoil of the last two years, St. Andrew’s desperately needed a period of peace and stability in the choir, and in John Edgar Birch they found that and much more. Born on August 25th, 1862 (not 1854 as has been reported elsewhere) in Cavesham, Oxfordshire, the son of an Oxford professor of music, Birch had come to Canada about 1891, first to teach at Trinity College, Port Hope, then in 1894 to Montreal where he was Organist of Christ Church Cathedral and a professor at the Dominion College of Music. Birch moved to Ottawa in 1895, succeeding Frederick Smythe as Principal of the Canadian College of Music, and also briefly taking up the organist’s duties at St. George’s Anglican. His other church appointments in Ottawa included Knox Presbyterian (1896-1903) and the then-newly completed All Saint’s Anglican, Sandy Hill (1904-1910). Birch assumed his duties at St. Andrew’s in September 1910 and quickly set to work on plans for the enlargement of the organ to four manuals by Casavant Freres, which was completed exactly one year later. Birch was a thoroughly competent composer and several of his choral works were published during his years at St. Andrew’s, including Saviour, now the day is ending (1916), Christ is risen, Hallelujah (1919) and O little town of Bethlehem (1922), this last being his finest work. Birch conducted the Ottawa Choral Society, and was highly regarded for his performances of the Messiah and other choral standards. His taste in music was firmly rooted in the English Victorian era in which he had been raised, and he was one of the most respected and well-liked musicians in Ottawa. He served St. Andrew’s for over twenty-one years until his death on October 23, 1931. A plaque was erected in his memory in the organ loft by the members of the Choir.

Kenneth R. Cunningham; Stafford Salmon 1931-1932 (interim)
After J. Edgar Birch’s death there followed a long interim period, during which Kenneth R. Cunningham, a young music teacher in the congregation, played the organ and was assisted by Stafford Salmon, the bass soloist at the time.

Leonard Tanner 1932-1936
The call for an organist was sent out across Canada and England, and a young English musician from Surrey, Leonard Tanner, was appointed in September 1932. The local centre of the Canadian College of Organists delayed his appointment, however, displeased that yet another Englishman was stepping into a position that could have been filled by the growing number of Canadian organists. Once those obstacles were overcome, Tanner proved to be an energetic promoter of music in the capital, leading performances of Messiah, Elijah and St. Matthew Passion by the “St. Andrew’s Choral Society” and giving half-hour organ recitals over the radio. His time in Canada was brief: four years later he returned to England, but he retained a link to Ottawa in Miss Muriel Butler (daughter of Ottawa organist Horace Butler) whom he married at his Congregationalist parish in Lewisham in 1937.

Dr. Arthur H. Egerton 1936-1937
Perhaps hoping to avoid another confrontation with the College of Organists, St. Andrew’s Church appointed Montreal-born Dr. Arthur H. Egerton (né Egg) in December 1936. At 45 years of age, he had recently received a Doctorate from the University of Toronto, and had held positions at the Cathedral in Montreal and in Winnipeg, Duluth and Aurora NY. His tenure at St. Andrew’s was one of the shortest, though: just ten months after arriving he resigned in September 1937 and returned to Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal. One of his last positions was as Organist of Dominion United Church, Ottawa in the 1950’s. A published composer, he died in Hemmingford, Quebec in 1957.

Carman H. Milligan 1937-1984

Anthony E. King 1984-1992

Karen Holmes; David P. Dawson 1992 (interim)

Thomas Annand 1992 – present