THE CARILLON

The carillon of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal is an instrument comprising 56 bronze bells. From sacred hymns to folk tunes, from ancient melodies to the contemporary repertory, the bronze voices fill the air in all seasons. Many times a week, its music quietly invades the mountain, never ceasing to thrill passers-by.

Review the schedule of the carillon recitals.

Historical note

The Paccard Bellfoundry of Annecy-le-Vieux in France originally casted the bells for Paris’ Eiffel Tour, but they were never installed there. In 1954, the carillon was loaned to the Oratory for its 50th anniversary. Generous pilgrims later purchased the bells and donated them as a gift to the sanctuary. Although campanological art dates back to the 16 th century, there are only eleven carillons throughout Canada, and the only one in the province of Quebec can be found at Saint Joseph’s Oratory.

Inaugural concert: May 15, 1955 by Émile Vendette

A 10 900 kg Instrument

Made of a copper and tin alloy, the Oratory’s bells make for an instrument which has a total combined weight of 10 900 kg. The largest bell, which has the lowest sound, weighs 1500 kg while the smallest weighs only 5 kg.

Installed outside, beneath the roof of a small tower, the Oratory’s bells are bolted to the campanile’s beams, and do not move. Instead, sound is produced by bell clappers activated by steel cables connected to the interior keyboard where the carillonist sits. To play, the carillonist uses fists or open hand to push the wooden levers, also known as batons, that make up the two rows on the keyboard, and correspond to the black and white notes of a piano keyboard. In addition, there are pedal keys connected to the keyboard’s two lowest octaves.