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The Hearth's century old Baldwin grand piano needs a new home

Bowen Island Arts Council bought the piano 25 years ago and hundreds have played the instrument in the decades since – from world-class talents to young island students

We need to find a new home for a beautiful piano and time is of the essence. Cates Hill Chapel has decided to get a new piano and The Hearth, which owns the Baldwin, needs to find another home for it. 

The purchase of the nine-foot Baldwin concert grand 25 years ago is a testament to the power of a small community. In 1996, the Bowen Island Arts Council raised $21,000 to acquire the Baldwin. Built in the late 1800’s, this magnificent instrument had what was probably its second rebuild by Sigurd Sabathil, a harpsichord builder and craftsman, and one of the founding members and a past-president of the Arts Council. Names of all the donors were inscribed in gold letters on the inside of the piano lid and a gala concert, featuring local musical talent, celebrated the community’s achievement. 

BIAC, formed in 1987 by a group of residents who sponsored performances of classical concerts in their homes, decided early on to advocate for a multi-use performing arts space. The purchase of a piano to eventually live in such a space created a positive first step towards that dream but until such a venue was built, the piano needed a home. Moving the delicate, but heavy, instrument to various locations was a challenge until the community school provided a storage locker, the school gymnasium being the venue for many concerts. But the piano ended up on its side in the girls’ washroom, until 1999 when Cates Hill Chapel was completed. The chapel offered an acoustically attractive home for the Baldwin and an agreement ensured the community would continue to have access to the instrument. 

The Baldwin has featured prominently in the cultural life of the island, inspiring a heightened appreciation of music and enriching the artistic fabric of our home. The Baldwin has been played by famous pianists, who illustrate its range and magnificent voice, but also by generations of Bowen’s children who have experienced its virtuosity as they take lessons, or participate in competitions and festivals. It’s played a role in innumerable community events, from inaugurations, Sunday services, talent shows and hundreds of concerts and performances over the past 25 years, delighting thousands of artists, musicians and the public. 

The Hearth has maintained the piano over the years, spending more than half of its purchase price on tuning and minor repairs, but to achieve the highest concert standards for a large venue, the Baldwin needs another restoration. A recent assessment indicated that it would cost close to $50,000 to restore it to a high performance level. The Hearth has decided it is time to retire the instrument from concert presentations. The Baldwin may no longer be the best fit for the needs of the community but it is hoped that it will not yet go silent, rather take on a new life where it will continue to create its beautiful music. It would be an exceptional instrument for personal in-home use.

Thus, we are looking for a new home for the Baldwin. Our first choice is to give it to someone who will enjoy it as a fine instrument, and our only request is that the new owner help pay for moving expenses. 

The Hearth is working with the “Musicians of Bowen” (the MOB) and other interested consultants, and all of us are committed to ensure we have a high performance piano suitable for the needs of the new community centre. We want Bowen Island to offer both a suitable performance space with equipment to fit the needs of major artists, many of whom perform in Vancouver. While many contracts will not allow performances in close proximity to a main event, we believe our ferry logistics will provide opportunities for Bowen Island residents to see world class performers on Bowen. A smaller seven-foot concert grand piano is a basic requirement, and one which would encourage such artists to perform in our space. That’s our goal and we look forward to sharing more information about upcoming fundraising events for a new piano. 

If you are interested in adopting an exceptional instrument and want more details, please contact Jami Scheffer at your earliest opportunity at

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