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Ted Devey examines the organ's magnet box an electro­pneumatic component

 

Six-year-old Peter gets a lesson in basic finger exercises from Daddy at the two manual console.

 

The four Devey youngsters: Paul, 2; Peter, 6; Tommy, 11 and Ellen, 8

and their father hold five of the 1519 pipes which go into the 26-rank organ

 

1966

Do-it-yourself Organ Building

A full scale hobby

By YVONNE McWILLIAM

 

If you were assembling a do-it-yourself pipe organ kit you might need:

·  1519 pipes ranging in length from 16 feet down to 3 /8 of an inch

·  two 6X9 foot chests to support the pipes

·   a two manual console

·   a three horsepower motor

·   and a 22 foot square blower

 

You would probably also need a large basement, a garage and an understanding wife.

 

Possessor of all these is Ted Devey, systems engineer with radio regulations engineering section of the telecommunications and electronics branch at Ottawa. Although he is a member of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Ted doesn't play-yet. By the time he assembles the pipe organ in two years, however, he will have been taking piano lessons for five years and will be ready for organ studies. He can then practise on his own instru­ment, a 26 rank organ (which is big in case you know nothing about pipe organs).

 

Ted's interest in organ music goes back to his youth when he enjoyed listening to it, both in and out of church. He decided to one day build his own electronic organ and learn to play, but it wasn't until about five years ago that he switched his thoughts to the much more complicated task of building a massive pipe organ.

 

- After leaving the Navy in 1961 Ted joined the Department of Transport and was posted to Ottawa. There he heard about a local professional organ builder, Raymond Barnes, and sought him out. It was Mr. Barnes who suggested Ted build a pipe organ and who gave him much advice and encouragement.

 

First acquisition was much of an organ discarded by McPhail Baptist Church followed by an old console from St. Matthews Anglican Church. Before Ted got around to doing anything with them, however, he read about the proposed demolition of a downtown Ottawa United church, the cornerstone of which was laid by Sir John A. Macdonald in 1896. As an organ buff he knew that the church's Breckles and Matthews organ had been completely rebuilt and modernized in 1957 and provided with a new console. He decided to try and purchase the entire thing and put in a bid to the new owners of the building, who were preparing for demolition. As luck would have it Ted was the only person to do so. The organ was his-for a price, plus dismantling.

 

Enlisting the aid of two friends, one an organist, he worked evenings and weekends to move the organ over a three week period last December.

 

Ted feels he got a real bargain. He estimates the work done to the organ in 1957 cost $7,000 or $8,000 and that to replace the entire organ, pipes and all at today's prices would cost about 20 to 30 times the price he paid.

 

The Devey's (yes, Mrs. Devey thinks the project is a wonderful addition to their ranch style bungalow) are planning to enlarge their three bedroom house, to provide an area with a 10 foot high ceiling for the new "member of the household". Meanwhile, Ted plans to install some of the pipes this fall after first getting the blower hooked up to the motor.

 

Unusual as Ted's hobby might sound, another member of the Telecommunications branch shares it. He is Clarence Thomas, a technician in electronics. Clarence is a member of the congregation of a church which a few years ago discarded its organ when a new one was installed and fell heir to the old instrument. He set up as much as he could in the basement of his home, but many pipes had to remain in packing cases. Now he is having a new house built with a basement designed to accommodate the entire organ. Both he and Mrs. Thomas are taking lessons and, as Mrs. Thomas points out, will have no trouble putting in the time when Mr. Thomas retires in 1967 after 40 years with D.O.T.

 

In Ottawa, and other Canadian cities, perhaps, there are several homes that either have finished pipe organs installed or have them in various stages of construction. Some of these owners are professional musicians but the majority are people like Ted Devey and Clarence Thomas who may not play, but who regard organ building as a challenging hobby.

 

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