Carillon Restoration

As part of the rehabilitation of the Parliament Building, the Peace Tower Carillon is undergoing work to conserve and modernize the instrument, its playing room and related components. Besides structural upgrades and masonry restoration on the Peace Tower, the work will involve replacing the clappers of the bells and upgrading the manual keyboard to a World Carillon Federation modern standard, with a new mechanical transmission system in the belfry. The refurbished Peace Tower Carillon will remain an acoustic, mechanical, and manual concert instrument for live performances by generations of carillonneurs to come.

Read an article on preserving the Peace Tower Carillon from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).

Watch this PSPC video about the removal of the Peace Tower Carillon bells.

Bell scanning

Almost a century ago, the 53 bells of the Peace Tower Carillon were cast by the Gillett & Johnston Bell Foundry in Croydon, England. The firm then refined the bells’ beautiful harmonics using special tuning equipment. In 2022, in a happy marriage of art and science, the Dutch bell foundry Royal Eijsbouts used state of the art technology to digitally scan all 53 bells, mapping their exact profiles to document—and understand—how they were made. This project is an excellent example of twenty-first-century knowledge being used to preserve twentieth century artistry.

Keyboard disassembly

Gillett & Johnston was already ahead of its time when it designed the 1927 Peace Tower Carillon keyboard, featuring one of the first modern ergonomic manual and pedal arrangements. Over the years, the design was further refined by the World Carillon Federation to make it easier for players to perform.

In the spring of 2022, Royal Eijsbouts workers carefully disassembled the Peace Tower Carillon keyboard to transport it to the Netherlands, where a more contemporary manual/pedal design will be integrated into the heritage wooden frame. When the work on the Peace Tower is completed and the keyboard is returned to its place of honour, future players will be able to enjoy even greater control of musical expression.

Belfry work

The carillon keyboard is directly linked to the bells by a wire transmission system, which had only been renovated once since it was first installed in 1927. In 2022, Royal Eijsbouts dismantled the connections so that a new transmission design could be installed in the belfry. This updated system will not only provide performers with a greater sensitivity of musical touch, it will also make the space more accessible for maintenance work.

In 1927, Gillett & Johnston installed bronze clappers in the 17 smallest bells instead of the standard cast iron clappers used in the lower 36 bells, in the hopes of creating a more balanced tone. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case.

In 2022, Royal Eijsbouts removed all the clappers as well as the 22 smallest bells so that new cast iron clappers could be proportionately matched for the entire instrument. Although the bells themselves will remain unchanged, the new clappers will give the voice of the Peace Tower Carillon an even richer, more vibrant quality.