Canadian chapters of the American Bell Collectors Association in 1991 included Le Carillon du Madawaska (Edmunston, NB), Pacific-Northwest Chapter in British Columbia, Bell Collectors Club of Ontario (Toronto), Peace Tower Chapter (Ottawa), and the Alberta Bell Collectors Club (Edmonton). Members collect primarily decorative and toy bells not intended as musical instruments.
Exhibitions of instruments, apart from permanent museum displays, have been rare (see Exhibitions). Examples include the exhibit of R.S. Williams' collection at the Toronto Mechanics' Institute in 1861, 'Marvellous Music Machines' (shown in Cobourg, Kingston, Kitchener, and Oshawa in 1977), and an international exhibit, 'The Look of Music,' presented at the Vancouver Centennial Museum 1980-1. Other Canadian-hosted exhibits have included 'Prestige de la Lutherie française,' an exhibit of French bowed string instruments and bows of the 17th to 20th centuries, held at the NAC 3-15 Dec 1981 and presented by Le Groupe des Luthiers et Archetiers d'art de France; and the Violin Society of America's annual conference and exhibit 4-10 Nov 1984, held at the Chateau Laurier, Ottawa. Guitar-maker and musician William Laskin curated the travelling exhibit 'Handmade for Music,' shown in several Ontario cities 1987-9 and documented in the book, The World of Musical Instrument Makers: A Guided Tour (Oakville 1987). 'Sounds of Invention' under curator Gayle Young was organized by Memorial U Art Gallery in conjunction with the Newfoundland Sound Symposium in 1990. A brochure was published. In 1980 the harpsichordist Kenneth Gilbert maintained a 'working collection' of harpsichords, early and modern, in Montreal, Paris, and London. Indeed, many performers (string players, pianists, wind and brass players, and percussionists) have acquired for their professional use virtual collections, often containing rare specimens.
University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology. In 1991 it housed some 660 instruments, including 350 rattles and whistles from the north-west British Columbia coast cultures, the remainder African, Australian, Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Melanesian, Mexican, North and South American, Polynesian, and Tibetan.
Vancouver Centennial Museum. The ethnology division had acquired over 200 instruments by 1979, 107 of them Canadian and other North American Indian, 3 Canadian Inuit, 8 South American, 43 Asian, 42 African and 9 Oceanian. In addition there are a few archeological examples such as bone bird whistles. By 1979 the modern history division had acquired 23 instruments, most imported in the 19th century, including a pair of bagpipes, and a concertina from the latter half of the century.
University of Victoria Collection. Initiated by Phillip T. Young in 1970; includes 30 European instruments (all replicas) and the Hofman Collection of ethnic instruments, some from British Columbia Indian cultures.
Jalovec, Karel. Beautiful Italian Violins (London 1963)
Bayduza, Audrey. 'A rare touch for plows and violins,' Music Magazine, vol 7, Mar-Apr 1984
Carson, Susan. 'The collecting compulsion,' Toronto Globe and Mail Weekend Magazine, 18 Dec 1976
Pasta, Victor. 'Those magnificent men and their music machines,' Manitoba Moods (Autumn 1976)
The Henry Meredith Collection. Begun in 1975 by the trumpeter and University of Western Ontario professor Henry Meredith. In 1991 over 450 19th- and early-20th-century instruments, mainly brass, including several natural trumpets, an English slide trumpet, cornopeans by F. Pace (London), Robinson & Bussell (Dublin) and T. Claxton (Toronto), keyed bugles, double-belled euphoniums, helicons, an 18th-century hunting horn, a Vienna-valved trumpet, and numerous cornets and low brass instruments. Many of the instruments have been used by Meredith in performance and for lecture-recitals. Part of the collection was exhibited in Toronto in 1984. Catalogue on request.
Meredith, Henry. '76 Ophicleides, 110 cornopeans (or how to start a brass instrument collection),' Ensemble, Spring 1978
Lindenburger, Sharon. 'A joyful sound,' Ontario Living, Dec 1990
University of Western Ontario. Collection begun in 1986 with a bequest from Gordon Jeffery; includes two Stradivarius violins (1689 and 1702) and a Guarneri del Gesù violin (1729), which are occasionally played by faculty. Instruments for the use of students and the Early Music Studio include a Lotti cello (1850), a Gagliano violin (1780), a Carcassi viola (1745) and various 19th- and 20th-century instruments including replicas of historical harpsichords, a fortepiano and organs.
Canadian Museum of Civilization. Instruments are housed in the museum's Canadian Centre for Folk Culture Studies and its History Division and Canadian Ethnology Service. The centre in 1991 held 650 instruments representing more than 40 ethnocultural groups from Africa, Britain, Canada, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Orient, the Slavic countries, and South America. In the early 1970s the centre began a collection of instruments from contemporary Canadian makers with 12 instruments from the Ted Eames Collection. By 1991 this collection numbered 100 instruments of modern and historical design, and included a harpsichord, lute, marimba, flutes, guitars, a drum set, steel drums, and folk instruments. The History Division in 1991 held some 175 instruments, including harps, reed organs, pianos, violins, and zithers and a number of more exotic instruments presented by several countries to a former Canadian governor general. In the Ethnology Service in 1991 were approximately 1368 instruments, mostly North American Indian and Inuit (whistles, rattles, drums, deer-callers, etc) but also including specimens from other cultures and countries - Africa, Ceylon, India, Mexico, New Guinea, and South America.
Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank. Designed to help outstanding Canadian musicians, and established in 1985 by a bequest from the Barwick family of Ottawa. In 1987 a Tecchler cello (1706) was purchaed and loaned to Denis Brott for the duration of his career. In 1988 a Stradivarius (1717) violin, donated by Leon Weinstein, was loaned to Scott St John. Colgrass, Ulla. 'Instrument banks stem the tide,' Music, vol 6, May-Jun 1983
National Museum of Science and Technology. Begun in 1967, the collection includes music boxes - the earliest from 1840 - player and reproducing pianos, a 1900 piano player, a pump reed organ, a harmonium, and early gramophones, including a Berliner.
The Bruce County Museum. Collection established 1953. Over 50 instruments (by 1991), mainly music boxes, pianos, and reed organs, but also some bagpipes, a dulcimer, and two violins made in Bruce County. Most items date from 1880-1900 and some are of Canadian origin.
Hart House Viols, University of Toronto. Six viols in a 17th-century chest, purchased by the Massey Foundation ca 1930. Until 1935 owned jointly by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto and Hart House, but thereafter the sole property of the latter. Two Pardessus de viole (Louis Guersan, Paris 1760, and Nicolas Bertrand, Paris ca 1725), a small English viol (ca 1680), a treble viol (probably Flemish, ca 1700), an alto viol, tuned as a tenor (English ca 1700), and a bass viol (Joachim Tielke, Hamburg ca 1695). The instruments have been heard at many concerts at the university and have been played by groups such as the Conservatory String Quartet and the Hart House Consort of Viols, led by Peggie Sampson, but by 1980 were no longer being played. In 1991 plans were made to donate the viols to the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank.
Royal Ontario Museum. Established in 1912, by 1980 the ROM collection was the largest in Canada, with instruments in its Far Eastern, Ethnology, and European departments. In 1980 the Far Eastern collection included Chinese instruments of the Shang and Chou dynasties and 103 instruments manufactured in the 19th and 20th centuries, about one-half of which were displayed. The Ethnology Dept had 707 instruments: 303 North American Indian, including 144 rattles and 43 drums; 11 Inuit, including 4 drums and 4 string instruments; and the remainder from Mexico, South America, Africa, and Oceania. The European Dept collection comprised 230 instruments in 1980. Among the most important were the Johannes Celestini harpsichord, made in Venice in 1596, and the so-called 'Dragonetti' double-bass attributed to Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò, dated 1600. The excellent representation of early English instruments included a viola da gamba bearing the label of Henry Jay, 1610. Another, by Barak Norman, is dated 1697. There also was a 17th-century kit-violin by Cuthbert and 18th-century kits by Henry Jay and W. Taylor, as well as English guitars of the 17th and 18th centuries. Among the 18th- and early 19th-century keyboard instruments were examples of the spinet, harpsichord, and piano by such famous makers as Baker, Harris, Kirckman, Zumpe, and Broadwood. Woodwinds were represented by instruments of Bainbridge, Ellard, and Wood, brasses by works of Mathew Pace and Henri Distin. There also was a British harp lute, the work of Edward Light; and the top of an 18th century viol that had been discovered in a cellar in the Hôpital général de Québec around 1860, undoubtedly hidden during the siege of Québec in 1759. (Three more viols of the same provenance are in the Crosby Brown Collection in New York's Metropolitan Museum.) In September 1991 the Musical Instrument Gallery was closed and all instruments put into storage pending the location of a new display venue. Access to the collection may be possible for researchers who make advance written request.
Littler, William. 'ROM's musical treasures,' Toronto Star, 29 Mar 1980
Doyle, Jim. 'Notes from the gallery,' Guitar Canada, vol 2, Summer 1988
Rogers, Corinne. 'Early instruments at the Royal Ontario Museum,' Musick, vol 13, Sep 1991
University of Toronto, Faculty of Music. Collection established by Sidney Fisher; 21 English, French, and German transverse flutes made between 1760 and 1905 illustrating the development of the flute. Seven one- to eight-key boxwood flutes (1760-1850); others of locustwood, blackwood, rosewood, sterling silver, and silver-plated brass. One, a Nicholson flute (1825), considerably influenced Boehm in his work.
Allan Jones Collection. A private collection of 70 sets of western European bagpipes from Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia, France, Sweden, Belgium, and Sicily, dating from 1760 to modern instruments. All are in playing condition and have been used by Jones in performances and workshops in Europe and in North America. In 1989 an exhibit of bagpipes from this collection was held at the Marsil Museum in Montreal.
University of Montreal, Faculty of Music. Begun in 1989 under curator and ethnologist Monique Desroches, 450 ethnic instruments from Africa, Caribbean islands, South America, south-east Asia, and Canada. Of particular interest is a gamelan from Bali, which is used by students. The Canadian instruments include some from the northern Quebec Inuit, Indian cultures from across the country, and Quebec folk instruments including washboards, spoons, and fiddles. In 1991 plans were underway to set up a permanent exhibition at the university in co-operation with the Musée de l'homme in Paris. The faculty also has reproduction baroque instruments for student use.
Catalogue de la collection de l'Ensemble Claude-Gervaise (Montreal 1975)
Author Helmut Kallmann, Mabel H. Laine, Irfôna Larkin, Nancy McGregor
Kallmann, Helmut. Canadian-built 19th Century Musical Instruments, a Check List (Toronto 1965, rev Ottawa 1966)
Lichtenwanger, William, et al. A Survey of Musical Instrument Collections in the United States and Canada (Ann Arbor, Mich 1974)
Jenkins, Jean, ed. International Directory of Musical Instrument Collections (Buren, Netherlands 1977)
Barclay, R.L. Care of Musical Instruments in Canadian Collections, Canadian Conservation Institute Technical Bulletin 4 (Ottawa 1978)
Young, Phillip T., compiler. The Look of Music (Vancouver 1980)
Hopkins, Thomas. 'Tracing the family tree of instruments,' Maclean's, 17 Nov 1980
Reif, Rita. 'The siren song of old instruments,' New York Times, 4 Jan 1981
Littler, William. 'World's musical treasures are celebrated in silence,' Toronto Star, 10 Jan 1981
Barclay, R.L. Anatomy of an Exhibition (Ottawa 1983)
De Santana, Hubert. 'Rare violin bows are hitting high notes,' Financial Post Moneywise, Mar 1987
Links to Other Sites
The Stradivari Society
About Stradivari Society programs that provide promising young musicians with musical instruments made by Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù.
ASZA.com - New Directions in World Music
The eclectic Canadian world music group ASZA offers “new directions for Asian instruments.” Check out their website for bios, music samples, gallery of musical instruments, and more.
National Music Museum
A nicely illustrated and extensive online database of historic musical instruments. A great resource for musicians, students, and researchers. Part of the National Music Museum & Center for Study of the History of Musical Instruments in the US.
Opus: The making of musical instruments in Canada
An extensively illustrated online book about the history of the art and craft of creating musical instruments. Covers traditional, early European, folk, and symphony orchestra musical instruments. Check out the Index for information about individual instrument makers. From the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
A brief note about the origins of the Amati Quartet from the website "Events in the History of the University of Saskatchewan."
Under the Sign of the Big Fiddle
Peruse online excerpts from the book “Under the Sign of the Big Fiddle: The R.S. Williams Family, Manufacturers and Collectors of Musical Instruments.” From Google Books.
The website for Randy Raine-Reusch, Canadian composer, concert-artist and improvisor specializing in New and Experimental Music for world instruments. View a video of Raine-Reusch playing a selection of instruments from his extensive collection.