The weekend of April 16/17 was a special one for ringing in Toronto. The previous Dean of Toronto and Rector of St James’ Cathedral, the Very Reverend Douglas Stoute, retired in January and the ringers wished to ring a peal for him to mark the occasion. Douglas was the Dean of Toronto when the idea of having change ringing bells in the Cathedral took shape and he was a tremendous supporter of the scheme. He continued to support ringing and the ringers from the time of the installation in 1997 until he retired. Dean Stoute is a member of the NAG Roll of Honour (1997). At the same time we also wanted to welcome his successor, the Very Reverend Andrew Asbil.
It was only fitting that we try to ring a 12-bell peal for this very special occasion but we don’t have 12 ringers in Toronto who like to ring peals. The Toronto ringers are therefore very grateful to their North American Guild friends from Pittsburgh PA, Rochester NY, Boston MA, Birmingham AL and Washington DC for making the journey to Toronto to help them in this endeavour.
Because we had never rung together as a 12-bell band before, and indeed because some of the band had not rung much on 12 bells at all, we decided to get together for a practice on Friday evening to see how well we would work together. Friday evening felt good and our conductor, Don Morrison, was happy with what he could see (and hear).
We had scheduled 3 peal attempts over the weekend to fit in between services. The first was an 08:30 start on the Saturday morning and we were all pleased (relieved?) when the peal of 5016 of Plain Bob Cinques came round in 3 hours and 15 minutes. We then had a short lunch break before we had a photo call with both Deans.
Several of the morning band were happy to have rung just one peal in the day but 7 of the morning band were happy to try for another. Michael went home to look after the children which allowed Olivia Gamache to join us for 5008 of Plain Bob Major which came round in 2 hours and 59 minutes.
On Sunday our visitors joined us for service ringing and then after the second service of the day we set off again. This time it was spliced 5060 of Plain Bob Cinques and Plain Bob Maximus, which duly came round in 3 hours and 9 minutes, a first for all the band.
It was the first time for a long time that many of us had rung two peals in two days, to say nothing of those who rang three peals in two days. There were also a number of additional footnotes to the peals. Four ringers rang their first twelve bell peal on Saturday morning and one her first of Cinques. Saturday afternoon saw David Hawkins reach his 100th peal and Don Morrison his 600th for NAG. Sunday afternoon was Michael Hinton’s 25th peal and Don completed circling of the tower, the first ringer to achieve that milestone.
Everyone had a very enjoyable and rewarding weekend and it was obvious that the Deans appreciated the peals being rung for them. As we succeeded in scoring three we decided to dedicate the Saturday morning peal to Douglas, the afternoon one to Her Majesty the Queen for her 90th birthday, and Sunday’s to Andrew.