Alfred John Herbert SADLER (1894-1955)

Alfred John Herbert SADLER (1894-1955)

Herbert was born 06 September 1894 at Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. He was the son of John Edward Sadler (1862-1938) and Francis Loious Gardiner (1862-1941).

He began playing the organ at the age of four and was described as the world’s youngest organist. He was said to be naturally talented and his formal musical studies, while in England, consisted of one year’s piano training. Scholastically he was preparing to enter university on a £200 scholarship, but his studies were cut short when his family immigrated to Winnipeg in 1909.

Musically, he studied under two prominent Winnipeg organists, Hugh Ross and Douglas Clark. His degrees include the ACCO (Associate of the Canadian College of Organists) and the FICL (Fellow of Trinity College, London).

Businessman, Composer, Educator, Organist

Herbert was the organist for St. George’s Anglican Church (1914-1916) and St. Peter’s Anglican Church on Selkirk Avenue (1916-1917). He resigned from this position after enlisting for overseas service with the Medical corps. He served in France with No 7 Canadian Stationary hospital Dalhousie University unit. He, also, spent some time in England before his return in 1919 where he had the opportunity of studying with the late Prof. HW Frogley, an organist and pedagogue of London. When he returned to Winnipeg he joined Westminster United Church as their organist in 1920 and served in this position until his death. He was, also, the choirmaster for a few years during that time.

In the early part of the Second World War, after he had left the Philharmonic choir, he formed his own Metropolitan choir. For one of its pageants he composed the music to the first section of Longfellow’s “Hiawatha”. This was performed at a premiere of his work, heard in conjunction with the singing of the other two musical sections of Hiawatha written by Coleridge Taylor. He wrote a number of anthems and solos for the Westminster choir, as well as other songs.

In 1916, he was working as a salesman in a dry goods store and then joined the firm of Robinson, Little and Company Limited as an office boy, ending up as secretary and company director.

His musical activities in Winnipeg included organization of the Metropolitan choir, which put on many pageants; conductor for a few years of the Winnipeg Philharmonic choir; mainstay of the Winnipeg Centre, Canadian College of Organists; composer of many songs and anthems, as well as, of one part of the musical pageant Hiawatha; a music teacher and executive member of the Manitoba Music Teachers Association. He described himself as ‘only a chap who loves music’

He died in Winnipeg at Grace Hospital on 22 April 1955 and was buried at St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.


  • Death Registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
  • Bristol, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1918, Ancestry.
  • Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 22 April 1955, page 32.
  • “United Church Organist, Herbert J Sadler Dies”, Winnipeg Free Press, 22 April 1955, page 8.
  • “Christmas Music in Winnipeg Churches”, The Winnipeg Tribune, 19 December 1914, page 18.
  • “Easter Music in the Churches”, The Winnipeg Tribune, 29 April 1916, page 12.
  • “Personal and Social”, Manitoba Free Press, 10 July 1917, page 3.
  • Canadian Expeditionary Forces Personnel Files, 1914-1918, Library and Archives Canada.
  • “Organist Appointed at Westminster Church”, Manitoba Free Press, 08 May 1920, page 20.


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