The bells of Charlottetown’s beautiful St Dustan’s Basilica have been silent for the past 40 years but that is about to change come July 1st of this year. A committee spearheaded by historian Catherine Hennessey and co-chaired by Kevin Murphy have worked tirelessly to have the structural problems that caused them to be silenced righted and to raise the $400,000.00 needed to refinish and retune the 17 bells, install the infrastructure and electronic system.
The bells were cast by Paccard Fondrie Des Cloches in Annecy, France and installed in the north tower of the church in 1928. They are sister chimes to the bells at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and L’Oratoire St-Joseph-du-Mont-Royal in Montreal. The restoration work is being done by the Christoph Paccard Bellfoundries in South Carolina.
The good people at Vintage Charlottetown posted this video from Cocktail-VP showing how the bells would have been cast back in 1927-28. The foundry in this case is the famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London but the process was the same – and with few modernizations as it has been for centuries.
This video ends before the tuning processes is shown. When the bells of St Dunstan’s were cast they would have been tuned using tuning forks and lathes. As Nigel Taylor, the head tuner at Whitechapel, explains techniques have evolved considerably even over the past ten years.
I’m looking forward to hearing that first peal of bells on July 1st as we celebrate the 150th Birthday of my country. I can think of no more joyful sound.
On this day in 1855: “Border Ruffians” from Missouri invade Kansas and force election of a pro-slavery legislature.