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Butchart Gardens Organ Pavilion - 2/17 Aeolian
Victoria, B.C.
Organ installation timeframe: 1920 - present
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Seattle's Dick Schrum at the Butchart Aeolian, c.1967
Located on Brentwood Bay about 12 miles north of Victoria, the Butchart estate was established in 1904. The Butcharts named their home "Benvenuto" ("welcome" in Italian). In 1939, the Butcharts gave the Gardens to their grandson Ian Ross and ownership of the Gardens has remained within the Butchart family to this day.
According to the Organ Historical Society (OHS) database, in 1920, Robert Butchart purchased a two-manual 11 rank Aeolian pipe organ with Duo-Art player for installation in the Benvenuto residence. Later that same year, three ranks and a Harp were added. In 1928, another three ranks and a set of Chimes were added.
The OHS database states that during World War II the organ was moved to Stanley Park, Vancouver. Then in 1969 it was moved back to Butchart Gardens. However, the reinstallation must have been earlier than 1969 because the photo of Dick Schrum above appeared in the Nov/Dec 1967 issue of THEATRE ORGAN.
According to the Butchart website, in the Summer months following the Saturday night fireworks displays, listeners pack up their blankets and lawn chairs while listening to a mini concert performed by the player mechanism or live organist.
According to one visitor: "The instrument is housed in a small building on the upper part of the Concert Lawn, and the organ and organist are visible at night on the second floor through a sound screen when the room is lighted. The console is 2 manuals and pedal, and the pipe chambers are visible as they are illuminated during the performance, giving a "show" of sorts when the swell shades are used."
YouTube video of the Butchart organ, organist unknown, 2014.
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Organ Pavilion building, 2015. Photo by eepeirson. Note the four windows on the upper level that open to allow the organ to be seen and heard.
The OHS database mentions that as of 2009, the organ had been removed and placed in storage. It is unclear how long Butchart Gardens was without an organ because a historical marker plaque currently posted near the Organ Pavilion describes installation of a similar, but different Aeolian instrument once owned by Chris Spencer of the Spencer's chain of department stores. According to the plaque, the Spencer instrument is "identical" to the original Butchart organ, fate of which is unknown.
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Historical marker plaque near the Organ Pavilion building, 2014. Photo by William Fischer.
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Frank Cammisuli at the Butchart Gardens Aeolian, as included in a February, 2006 RCCO (Royal Canadian College of Organists) concert listing.
More information is available on the Butchart Gardens web site:
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