The present Sanctuary of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Orillia was erected in 1888 and originally housed only a small reed organ used in the previous structure. The arrival of this instrument in 1865 caused a great stir amongst parishioners since Presbyterians of the time did not believe in the use of mechanical contrivances in worship. After its first day of use, the reed organ was carried out to the street in hopes that it would never return. In 1893, the Ladies' Aid purchased a modest two manual and pedal Warren pipe organ for $2500. The price included the addition of an organ chamber to the north end of the building.
In 1921, church members decided that a new organ would be a fitting memorial to those who served in the 1914-1918 War and contracted with Casavant Frères of Quebec to build and install a four manual and pedal instrument in the English-French Romantic style. All but four ranks of the Warren organ were moved to the south-east tower to become the Echo Organ. The main chamber was tripled in size, excavated to the basement level and extended nine feet in to the Rotunda (the north wing was added in 1912). The echo chamber had to be created from a previously “hidden” room in the tower, cutting through many courses of brick and plaster to make an opening into the Sanctuary. The total cost for this project was $42,000.
The main organ remained largely unchanged until 1995, when the Church contracted with Orgues Letourneau of Quebec for a major restoration with additions. The Console was totally refurbished including a Solid State action. The pipework was cleaned and repaired at the factory over three years with judicial re-voicing in keeping with the Romantic nature of the instrument. Wind-chests were converted to Pitman-action and reservoirs re-leathered keeping the original wind pressures. New stops, including a 32" Contra Trombone in the pedal, were added to complete the stop-list.
Unfortunately, lightning struck the south-east tower in 1985, setting the building on fire and completely destroying the original Echo Organ. Casavant Frères installed a new organ in the rebuilt space in 1986. The entire organ, both Main and Echo, contains approximately 5300 pipes and weighs 35 tons.