Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
nav image
nav image
nav image
nav image


This is a report on the timing of events related to the various phases of work that had been performed on the bells at Christ Church Cathedral during the period of May 23rd, 2023 to February 6th, 2024.

The scarcity of information prior to the current effort, regarding the bells, made it very challenging to assess their conditions before, during or immediately after Covid 19.  Some parishioners thought they heard the bells ringing, but not sure for how long, and others missed it entirely.

However, there is certainty that the bells had not been functioning after Covid and that put some urgency into efforts to get the bells going again.  Covid happened at least three years ago.

It should have been a simple process getting the maintenance company back into the job to fix the bells.  However, it did not work out that way.  We seemed to have run into some unexpected problems getting people to come and work on the bells.

To put the picture into perspective, all parties involved with the bells are listed:

  • Christoph Paccard Bell Foundry (SCP). An American company associated with the Paccard name, calling themselves Christoph Paccard Bell Foundry.  It provided the electronics to control and motors to drive the bells.  They were based in North Charleston, South Carolina and was managed by Principal, Mr. Stan Christoph.  Manager, Mike Walker, and Technician, Mr. Manvir Shah, based in Toronto.
  • Paccard Bell Foundry (PBF). The Paccard Bell Foundry is located in Sevrier on the shores of Lake Annecy, France.  It is a very old company that for seven generations has created bells, carillons and even personalised house bells, for use by individuals and communities.  Manager, Mr. Phillipe Paccard.  Assistant Manager, Cyril Paccard and Ingenieur Thomas Paccard, engineer.
  • Christ Church Cathedral (CCC). Ian Birtwell, who provided the background information. Rector and Dean of the Diocese of New Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr. Christopher Pappas, Ph.D., D.Min, Leader.  Director of Administration, Mr. Carlos Ferreira, Building Manager, Mr. Shawn Warminton, Technical Advisor Douglas Yee.


January 24th, 2023.  CCC wrote to SCP enquiring about the times they could work on the four bells, including the change over from belt to chains, repair to the Apollo sound system and all associated problems.  CCC said it looked forward to SCP coming to fix the bells so that another asset of the church the church could become operational again.

February 14th, 2023.  SCP reported that their technician had completed advanced training on the bells and that they had ordered some special tools that would help remove the gears faster and easier. Each bell needed to be re-programmed once it had been converted from belt to chains.

March 14th, 2023.  CCC asked SCP when they could come to fix the bells. There was no response.

April 14th, 2023.  SCP wrote that their company had been short-handed and that they were still awaiting the arrival of the “bell program” from Belgium.  Once they received the program, they would ship it to their technician who would set up a visit.

May 30th, 2023.  SCP emailed that they were still seeking dates for their technician to come and work on the bells.  They could not find a suitable time.   

June 1st, 2023.  SCP wrote that their technician and principals could still not decide on a date to attend to CCC’s bells.

June 26th, 2023.  SCP is still trying to find a time to attend to CCC

July 18th, 2023.  CCC wrote to the Paccard Bell Foundry (PBF) asking whether they would be interested in coming to repair and service the CCC bells. 

July 19th, 2023.  CCC received a favourable reply from Mr. Philippe Paccard of Paccard Bell Foundry, France.  He expressed keen interest to help CCC resolve their problems with the bells and offered suggestion to rectify CCC’s malfunctioning systems.  As proof that they were the originator of the bells, they sent CCC a copy of the original specifications for review.    

August 10th, 2023.  First conference call was set up between CCC and PBFPBF was most interested to hear what went wrong with the bells.  CCC related as much as possible what the troubles were but they were only conjectures as nobody was qualified to go up the tower which was against WorkSafe BC regulations if unqualified.  From what was sketchy information and photographs, PBF drew up a set of possible problems to address when they undertake their visit.        

The spectre of possible conflict between CCC and SCP was also raised because CCC could still have an existing contract with SCPPBF went into consultation with SCP which resulted in that company withdrawing its services and rendered CCC encumbrance free.  

August 21st, 2023PBF sent in their first proposal called “Survey and checking Service” (SCS).[1]  It proposed that one engineer spend in September, two full days on Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th, and two half days on Tuesday 26th, and Friday 29th, to assess the bells.   He would also partially restore the bells and, as much as possible, prepare for full restoration during his next visit.  CCC emphasised that they want all bells to be moved by chains according to specifications.[2]  This phase of the work, including all local expenses, was estimated to amounted to approximately C$12,000.

September 27th & 28th, 2023.  Thomas’ first visit to the site and executed SCS, the first phase of the work.  His report [3] detailed all the work he had done and further work to be done during the second visit.  The most important issue he found was that the heaviest bell, no. 1 bell, was grossly underpowered by using the existing mono-phase motor.  It needed a more powerful three-phased motor  and CCC was to bring three-phased power supply to the site.  PBF shall provide the three-phased motor they have in stock.

November 8th to 11th, 2023. This is Thomas’ second visit and Cyril’s first.  This work was called “Restoring Bell Service” (RBS).[4]  Thomas continued with his electronics work, the most important was to change no.1 bell to three phased and be fitted with an appropriate motor.   Cyril undertook this heavy mechanical work on all the bells. 

Thomas also provided lesson on switching the bells using the HARMONY console (new board, old was APPOLO). The following were trained to operate the bells.  Mr. Peter Roulston, Mr. Tom Ferry, Mr. Carlos Ferreira & Mr. Shawn Warminton.

Cyril Paccard left after one and a half days and Thomas stayed for almost three full days.[5]  The cost of this work, second phase, called RBS, was 32,000 Euros, which amounted to C$46,500.  Adding another C$2,500 for their per diem brings the cost up to C$49,000.   

Grand total of SCS and RBS amounted to C$61,000, approximately, due to fluctuating exchange rates and banking charges.    

November 12th, 2023.  All four bells were fully functioning from that day.

December 11th, 2023.  CCC gave notification to RBF that no. 3 bell was not functioning (counting upwards, no 1 bell being lowest and biggest).[6]  A  sound clip was sent back to France for analyses. PBF decided to send Thomas to the site again[7] as he is working on other bells in America and could make a short side trip to Vancouver on January 18th, 2024.     

January 18th, 2024.  Site visit by Thomas Paccard to fixed the non-functioning no. 3 bell.[8]  He found that the chain tensioner was fouling the gears inside the gearbox.  He fixed the problem and departed the next day.  Total cost to fixing no. 3 bell amounted to C$500 which was local per diem cost.  Service fee was waived. 

January 19th, 2024.  The bells were fully functioning again. 

February 2nd, 2024.  A couple of persons felt that the bells were sounding “right”, should investigate.    

February 8th, 2024.  Responsibility for the bells has now reverted back to the Dean; thereby ending Douglas’ involvement with them.   


Douglas recalls with gratitude that many people gave generous support to this wonderful “Bell” journey.  Glory to God.


Douglas Yee, MSc, CEng MICE, PEng(ret’d).