The Basilica

The Great Casavant Organs

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Inaugurated in 1891, it now has 7,000 pipes with its longest stretching over 32 feet (9.75 m) and the smallest one at a quarter-inch long (6.35 mm). It contains 92 stops on 4 manual keyboards of 61 notes and a pedalboard of 32 notes.

The Organ's Construction

"The organ at Notre-Dame de Montréal is the largest in North America, matched only by Notre-Dame de Paris."


—Alexandre Guilmant, famous French organist and composer to play the Casavant Organ in 1896



The contract to build Notre-Dame’s organ was signed a few years earlier in 1885. La Fabrique de la paroisse Notre-Dame de Montréal chose Casavant Frères, a new firm founded five years earlier, to carry out this ambitious project. In fact, the pastor wanted a four-manual organ that would become the largest in North America. The Casavant firm then sent one of the Casavant brothers to Europe to meet with some of the most renowned organ builders. It was in France that Casavant met Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, who restored the great organs of Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris. This meeting was important for the design of the Notre-Dame's organ, which is part of the French symphonic tradition of the 19th century.

Pierre Grandmaison

Since 1973, Pierre Grandmaison has been the titular organist at the Basilica. Born in Montréal, he studied piano at the École de musique Vincent-d’Indy in Outremont while working on the organ with Eugène Lapierre and Françoise Aubut. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Université de Montréal in 1970.


He has a busy schedule at the Basilica, as he performs for some 400 celebrations each year: weddings, funerals, masses and more. He also loves to share his passion for the organ by welcoming the Basilica’s many visitors with the Have a Seat at the Casavant Organ activity.

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