Disaster struck in January 1978 when this structure was gutted by fire, leaving only the stone arches and walls standing. The roof, windows, and all interior furnishings were destroyed at that time.
Within two years a prominent local architect had designed a restoration plan, and what we see today has been the St. James worship space since April 1980. All the arches and walls are original and refinished. Once services were resumed in the restored space, an Allen organ was purchased. After having served the parish’s worship for over twenty-five years, that instrument required replacement. A very generous member of the congregation underwrote the next crucial steps, beginning with the acquisition of the 1913 Karn-Warren instrument from the now closed St. James the Apostle Anglican Church in Hamilton, Ontario. The pair of Arts and Crafts-style organ cases at the south or baptistery end house the Great and Solo divisions, which include eleven ranks of original Karn-Warren pipes, augmented by some additional pipework, including a rare free reed, the Cor Anglais 8ʹ.
The organbuilder D. Leslie Smith was introduced to this situation and proposed an imaginative and effective expansion. The result is the Swell and Choir divisions with all new pipework at the north or chancel end, both under expression. Pedal stops were placed in both front and back divisions, and certain stops playable from the Great were grouped in the Solo division at the back, which was enclosed. The specially designed amphitheatre console is fully electronic and moveable. It comes equipped with a complete range of registration aids, including a full complement of couplers and an All Swells to Swell switch. As a result of this work, completed in 2008, there are now four locations around the sanctuary to create music, nurture the singing community, enfold the listener, and reflect the colourful range of voices offered by this unique instrument.
David Palmer played the dedicatory recital for the present instrument on March 30, 2008. There are thirty-one stops across the three manuals and pedal, and a total of 2,297 pipes.
Choir, Swell and some Pedal cases in chancel: Photograph from an archival source: 2023 OHS Handbook, Len Levasseur, submitted by Paul R. Marchesano. Taken on 2022-06-15