Rainbow Bridge Carillon

The Carillon Tower at Rainbow Bridge
Near the Falls

Carillons are surprisingly rare in Canada, although there are many in Europe.  Purists count only eleven in Canada played from traditional carillon keyboards.  With 55 bells, the Rainbow Bridge Carillon is second largest in Canada.  In any carillon, the bells range in size:  the largest in the Rainbow Bridge weights approximately 10,000 kilograms (22 tons), and is two metres (6.5 feet)high.  The smallest weighs under four kilograms.  In this carillon, the keyboard is nine storeys above ground, with the small bells above it, and the larger ones below.  The complex originally included an apartment for the resident musician. 

The bells were cast in Loughborough in the United Kingdom.  The project was interrupted by the Second World War, so the inaugural recital took place on Dominion Day in 1948.  After a series of carilloneurs, the tower was renovated in 1998, and the system automated in 2002, so what the visitor is likely to hear is not played by a person.  It is difficult to describe traditional carillon keyboards (and pedalboards), but fascinating videos can be found on the Internet.  Carillons are tuned musical instruments and typically play tunes, which is contrasted with 'Change Ringing', which is what one associates with traditional English church bells - those are usually rung in mathematical sequences.  Carillons are sometimes played using such sequences. 

The tower itself was designed by William Lyon Somerville (1886 – 1965), of Toronto, who was variously both the president of the Ontario Association of Architects and of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.  He also designed such things as the Henley Bridge in St.Catharines, on the Queen Elizabeth Highway, and undertook heritage preservation. 

The tower is 50.3 metres (165 feet) high.  How does one describe the architecture of the tower.  Carillon Towers tend to be Gothic (such as Peace Tower in Ottawa, and those in numerous churches), but this is something else - rather a stripped-down neo-classic 20th century form.  What do you think about it architecturally, or musically?