Toronto

You won't be hearing bells at Queen and Church streets for a while. Here's why.

Ever since 1922, the bells of the Metropolitan United Church have been ringing out at the corner of Queen Street East and Church Street. But now they're going silent so they can be restored.  

All 54 bells at the Metropolitan United Church are being restored

The Metropolitan United Church at Queen Street East and Church Street in Toronto. (Joe Fiorino / CBC)

Ever since 1922, the bells of the Metropolitan United Church have been ringing out at the corner of Queen Street East and Church Street. 

But as of this week, they're going silent. That's because for the first time since they were installed, they're going through a restoration process.  

Dr. Patricia Wright, the minister of music at the church, located at Church Street and Queen Street East, said there are 54 bells and they are known as a carillon.

"It needs to be at least 23 bells to be an official carillon," said Wright.

The carillon is played from a keyboard similar to a piano, said Wright. Just like any musical instrument, there comes a time when it needs to be retuned — a process that's expected to take six months. The restoration team hopes to have the bells back in place by spring.

The restoration of the bells at the Metropolitan United Church began this week. The team hopes to have them back in place by the spring. (Joe Fiorino / CBC)

Out of the 54 bells, 31 of them are being brought down and shipped to Ohio for restoring.

"Smallest bell that we're bringing down will run about 12 to 15 pounds ... Largest bell we're bringing down will be about 150 to 165 pounds," said Bill Meeks, who along with his brother Josh is a part of the restoration team from Meeks, Watson and & Co.

The narrow staircase leading down from the bells. (Joe Fiorino / CBC)

Meeks, who is the shop manager, said it is tough going up and down the narrow staircase of the church, which includes approximately 90 steps that lead to the bells. Luckily, they won't have to carry any of the bells down.

"We lower those down through the hatch that they've opened up for us," he said.

Bill Meeks, with the restoration team from Meeks, Watson and Co., says the largest bell they'll be taking down weighs between 150 and 165 pounds. (Joe Fiorino / CBC)

Everything around the bells will be replaced, except for the framing.

"We bring all of our wrenches and our tools to remove the bells from the frame … and then we're going to bring a lift to hoist up here to lower the bells through the hatch," said Josh Meeks.

The remaining 23 bells, which are the originals that were installed 97 years ago, won't be going to Ohio as they are too heavy to move.

"We won't be taking any of those bells out of the tower, but we will be replacing all of the internal workings of the bells," said Josh Meeks. That means he and his team will have to climb the 90 steps many more times to complete the restoration.