In 1904, Augustine United Church had the D. W. Karn Organ Company of Woodstock, Ontario install a three-manual, 28-stop instrument for $4,000. The tonal design of the Karn organ seems to have been inspired by the Romantic tradition of French and English organ building in vogue at the time. It remained relatively unaltered until 1994 when extensive renovation began and continued until the present specification. A new electric and movable console with an SSL control system was built by Gabriel Kney, who also built a large main chest with sliders and electric pull-downs for each division. Console Draw-knobs are by Harris and keyboards by Laukuff. Electrical-mechanical unit chests providing for the sharing of ranks with the pedal division were built by Richard Buck and Bruce Mantle. Mr. Kney provided the voiced and finished pipework. Some ranks (marked with an asterisk in the specification) remain from the original Karn instrument, on new chests.
An organ gathers into one creation the disciplines of architecture, engineering, woodworking, metallurgy, carving, electronics and the jeweller’s precision of the pipe voicer. The specification of the organ at Augustine is eclectic and varied as its people. It is an instrument of great and real beauty to inspire and lift those who hear it. It has the musical resources for many periods and styles of solos. Augustine’s organ supports spirited congregational singing and provides diverse accompaniments for the church’s fine choir. Please visit with us and hear Augustine’s music.
“The Golden Age of the Organ in Manitoba: 1875-1919” by James B. Hartman from Manitoba History, Number 29, Spring 1995 includes a review of the February 1905 inaugural concert.
Continuing Education Division, University of Manitoba
Manitoba History, Number 29, Spring 1995
Augustine Presbyterian Church
Organ installations received greater publicity when the inaugural concerts were played by touring recitalists. For example, the American organist Clarence Eddy, who had been the official organist at the Paris Exposition in 1899 and who was reputed to have opened more organs than any living organist, played two recitals on the new three-manual, 28-stop organ installed in Augustine Presbyterian Church by D. W. Karn, Woodstock, Ontario, in 1905:
Light and color were transformed into waves of melody at Augustine church last evening before a delighted audience of between seven and eight hundred music lovers, assembled at the first of the two inaugural recitals on the new organ by Mr. Clarence Eddy, a pastmaster on the great church instrument. The church is as new as the organ so there were no grim ghosts of by-gone Covenanters to protest against the introduction of a musical instrument in the kirk, but even had there been they would have been soothed by the carnival of sound which the magnificent instrument produced under the master touch of the world-wide famous American organist.
The organ is set in an alcove on a level with the gallery and above the choir. It was manufactured by the Karn Organ and Piano company, of Woodstock, Ontario, of which Mr. Wright is the local manager. It is a splendid instrument, the largest and best in western Canada, with over 2,000 speaking tubes; and, thanks to its large open diapasons, it has a wide volume of sound which is unequalled by many even larger instruments. Mr. Eddy himself is delighted with it. ‘It is brilliant,’ he said, ‘and it was a pleasure to me to play on it.’*
The Augustine organ is the earliest instrument installed in Winnipeg which still remains active, although it has undergone refitting and renovation several times in the intervening years.
*Free Press, 22 February 1905