Organs & Churches

Here are a few details on Montreal organs. These organs are used during CIOC competitions.

Church of the Immaculate Conception

Address : 1855 Rachel St E, Montréal QC (map)
Telephone : 514.526.5961
Metro : Mont-Royal or Papineau
Stop List

The Church:
Between 1886 and 1895, about ten large churches were built in Montreal. Among them was l’Église de l’Immaculée-Conception, in 1889, the surface area of which is more than 57,028 square feet (5,300 sq. m.).

Architect Georges-Émile Tanguay, who was not very knowledgeable about the Gothic style but who was well aware of new techniques, proposed a neo-Romanesque building.

For the first time in North America, steel was used in the construction of a church. This innovation made it possible to build a pillar-free nave but required that the vault be lowered, and this led to a better acoustic.

The Organ:
Von Beckerath, 1961

• 3 manuals, 38 stops, 56 ranks 
• Mechanical key and stop action

The organ of Immaculée-Conception was built by Rudolf von Beckerath and inaugurated on September 24, 1961. Beckerath’s workmanship had already touched Montrealers with the clarity of his two-manual instrument at Queen Mary Road United Church and the unique majesty of the five-manual instrument at St. Joseph’s Oratory. At Immaculée-Conception, he crowned his trilogy with an instrument of pure poetry.

Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Address : 305 Rachel St E, Montréal QC (map)
Telephone : 514.526.5961
Metro : Mont-Royal
Stop List

The Church:
The first church was built on the site between 1873 and 1874, but it was destroyed by a fire in January 1898. The fire took away the beautiful spire that would be replaced by two crowns, still in place today.

For the reconstruction of the church, Émile Vanier prepared the plans and the church was built between 1899 and 1900. In 1911, the church was again devastated by fire. Gone was the interior decoration, the roof and the cupola; the upper part of the exterior walls was also damaged.

Finally, the church was built for a third time between 1912 and 1914. The architect decided on a squat building with a very wide nave capable of housing eight rows of double seats accommodating 2,200 worshippers. Never-ending lateral galleries that circle the chancel can accommodate more than 1,000 worshippers. The church, restored in 1987, was classified in 1990 as a historical landmark by the city of Montreal.

The Organ:
Casavant, Opus 615, 1915/1996

• 4 manuals, 65 stops, 92 ranks
• Electro-pneumatic action

After the second reconstruction, the church housed a Casavant organ (Opus 448) built in 1908, a 59-stop instrument with four manuals and pedal division. The instrument was destroyed in the 1911 fire. Once the church was rebuilt, Casavant Frères proposed a large 61-stop instrument (Opus 615) divided among four manuals and pedal division. Since then, seven stops have been added to the organ. This large organ reflects with a certain success today the tradition of the French symphonic organ.

Notre-Dame Basilica

Address : 110 Notre-Dame St W, Old Montreal, Montréal QC (map)
Telephone : 514.842.2925
Hours : Basilica open daily 8am-5pm; Tours daily 9am-4pm
Metro : Place d’Armes
Stop List

The Church:
Originally a small chapel built in the late 17th century, present-day Notre Dame Basilica dates back to the 19th century and represents one of the first examples of Gothic revival in North America. It was in 1824 that James O’Donnell, an Irish architect from New York, began the construction of the Basilica. He died in 1830 before his masterpiece was completed. It was architect John Ostell who completed the construction of the towers.

The first tower to be completed, in 1841, was the West Tower, called Perseverance. It measures 63m in height and houses Le Gros Bourdon, a huge bronze bell nicknamed Jean-Baptiste which only rings out on important occasions. The East Tower, known as Temperance was completed in 1843. It is 61m in height and houses a ten-bell carillon. A genuine gallery of religious art, Notre-Dame Basilica has a thoroughly individual and irresistible charm.

The Organ:
Casavant, Opus 26/1034, 1891/1924/1991

• 4 manuals and pedal
• 90 stops, 122 ranks, ~7000 pipes
• Electro-pneumatic action

Organ music has an almost 300-year history at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica. The first organ, a one-keyboard instrument was installed between 1701 and 1705. In 1885, the parish priest wanted the church to have the largest organ in the country. The contract was awarded to Casavant Frères from St-Hyacinthe, who would have six years to complete the project. At that time, the Casavant brothers wanted to apply the use of electricity in organ building. The Notre-Dame instrument would be the first 4-manual (81 stops) Casavant instrument. It was heard for the first time on Easter Sunday, March 28, 1891.

Since then, the vast instrument has undergone several restorations. To mark its 100th anniversary, additional stops were installed, bringing the total number of pipes to 7,000. The largest pipe measures 32 feet (10 metres) and the smallest, 1/4 inch (6 millimetres). In 2002 a second trompette en chamade (outward facing trumpet) stop was added. The organ today has 92 stops distributed over four keyboards and pedal division. The present console dates from 1962.