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Museum of
Canada

The Basilica Clocks and Bells

The east tower of the Basilica originally contained a "Town Clock", manufactured by Borrel of Paris, with a dial in enameled lava. At one time, the chimes were heard on the hours and half hours for miles around. There was a matching sundial in the West Tower but it was later removed. In 1954, the mechanical works of the clock were converted to an electrical system, and a new dial was installed.

By 1855, the east tower contained the largest and the first of nine bells in the Basilica. Bishop Mullock purchased the bell in February of 1850. Struck by James Murphy of Dublin, it was the largest ever cast in Ireland at that time, and won a Gold Medal at the Dublin Exhibition of Irish Manufacturers, weighing nearly two tons. Upon its arrival in February of 1851, it was hauled by hand to the Basilica, and installed in the East Tower. In the following years, eight more bells were installed in the west tower. James Murphy cast the three largest bells in 1854 and 1857. Matthew O'Byrne of the Fountain Head Foundry, Ireland, cast the five smaller bells in 1906.

Presently, the majority of the bells have been removed from the towers to accommodate for the structural renovations that have recently been completed to the towers. They will be reinstalled in the near future.