The Summer Institute of Church Music held its first Organ Competition in 1972: from 12 entrants six finalists were chosen, and Terence Ford and Gertrude Olford were chosen as winners by a jury chaired by that year’s organ instructor, George Faxon. The prizes were announced by their donor, Dr. J. N. Lowes. The competition was held again in 1973 and 1974, took on its current biennial shape in 1976, and in 2005 was formally renamed the Osborne Organ Competition in honour of its founders, who originally endowed the tradition of the Institute giving a scholarship for advanced study in Church Music, to be awarded by organ competition.
The Florence and Stanley Osborne Scholarship in Church Music is named for Mrs. & Dr. Stanley Llewellen Osborne. With proceeds from If Such Holy Song (Whitby, 1976), his commentary on the 1971 joint Hymn Book of the United Church of Canada and Anglican Church of Canada, Dr. Osborne, the founding Director of the Summer Institute of Church Music endowed, via the Osborne Organ Competition Fund, a scholarship in Church Music to be awarded biennially by organ competition.
Honouring that gift, in 2007 SICM launched the “Holy Song” touring program as a profile-raising initiative for the Institute and a fund-raiser for the Osborne Organ Competition Fund. To date several thousand dollars have been raised in support of the Fund.
From is inception until 2004 Thomas Cromwell served the Institute as co-ordinator of the Competition; beginning in 2006 the role was assumed by Dr. Mark Toews, and since 2008, it has been borne by John Leek.
1) 1972: 1st - Terence Ford; 2nd - Gertrude Olford
2) 1973: 1st - Pamela Gil
3) 1974: 1st - Mary Johnston
4) 1976: 1st - Roderick McAvoy
5) 1978: 1st - Patricia Snyder
6) 1980: 1st - Leonard Campbell
7) 1982: 1st - Michael Bloss, Derek Smith (other finalists Heather Rice, Marie Bouchard)
8) 1984: 1st - Heather Rice (other finalists Danielle Dube, Marie Bouchard)
9) 1986: 1st - John Charron
10) 1988: 1st - Joel Hastings
11) 1990: 1st - Elizabeth Sander
12) 1992: 1st - Kenneth Cowan; 2nd - James Andrew Calkin
13) 1994: %
14) 1996: %
15) 1998: %
16) 2000: %
17) 2002: 1st - Geoffrey Ward
18) 2004: 1st - Ryan Jackson; 2nd - Ryan Enright
19) 2006: 1st - Aaron Tan; 2nd - Isabelle Demers
20) 2008: 1st - Michael Oldaker; 2nd - Matthew Coons
21) 2010: 1st - C. Aaron James 2nd - Rachel A. Mahon