17 June 2008

Chance encounters

A trip to the Ottawa City Main Archives last week to investigate digitization possibilities morphed into a conversation with Bill Vineer, an Ottawa collector and owner of the Vineer Organ Library. He handed me a copy of an article from the June 2007 issue of Organ Canada which starts:

The numbers are impressive, almost unbelievable. Over the past 40 years Bill Vineer has personally collected over 750 books, 4,300 journals and magazines, 1,000 CDs, 1,350 LPs, 100 VHS tapes and DVDs, and approximately 6,500 hard-copy files, all related to the organ! More importantly, all this material has been meticulously cataloged and filed for easy reference.

I related to him my own Ottawa organ story connected to a visit to the grave site of Lt Col John By at Frant, East Sussex. The organ was playing in the church so I ventured inside and sat listening. When it ended the organist came over and started a conversation. On learning I was from Ottawa he told me of Sir William McKie, his mentor and former Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey 1941-1963. McKie directed the music for the Queen's marriage and coronation. He moved to Ottawa in retirement, his wife being a heiress to the Birks jewellery business.

Bill Vineer told me he had met McKie in Ottawa and has as part of his collection a drawstop from a former console of the organ at Westminster Abbey that came from McKie.

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