Monday, December 6, 2010 proved to be the day that winter came in earnest to South-Western Ontario. Two heavy pickup trucks towing trailers loaded with bells, bell-frame and everything else needed to assemble the chime left Georgetown, Ohio in good weather and arrived in Stratford in the early morning hours of Tuesday, having fought their way through heavy lake effect snow from Sarnia on. The reinstallation proceeded on schedule, with first the bell frame components, then the bells themselves being craned back into the belfry. By Sunday December 12 five bells were playable, enough to permit the Bells of St. James to help in the CBC reading of “A Christmas Carol”. The first two tunes played were the Westminster Quarters and Mary Had A Little Lamb; the latter for a young bell fan visiting during intermission! The installation was complete noontime Tuesday, December 14, and was celebrated by the playing of “O Canada”, “God Save the Queen” and “The Star Spangled Banner” by Richard Watson; the tunes in honour of the home country of the Bells and the country of their origin and restoration.
While the majority of the chime components have been replaced with modern hardware and materials, Meeks, Watson have successfully retained the 1909 “flavour” of the chime in its most visible component: the pump-handle chimestand. The appearance and feel of the original chimestand has been retained in spite of the addition of four new handles, ten new foot pedals and all new bearings and connections to the bells. George Money, our first chimer in 1909 would feel right at home playing it, even if he would probably be marvelling at all the extra bells!