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"ARP" 2007 Obituary


ARPIN  ARPPE 

ARPIN o@ca.on.grey_county.owen_sound.the_sun_times 2007-11-12 published
ARPIN, John Francis Oscar
Died peacefully on November 8, 2007 at the age of 70, with his loving wife and family at his side. John was born in Port McNicoll, Ontario on December 3, 1936. He was an internationally acclaimed pianist, composer, arranger and performed in a variety of settings including upscale clubs and concert halls both as a soloist or with symphonies. He also produced and wrote music for several television series, including TVO's Polka Dot Door. John brought joy to many through his gift of music, his passion for and engagement in life and through his charm and wit. He will be forever missed by his wife, Mary Jane Esplen and his children - son, Bob and his wife Lynne; daughter Jennifer and her husband Steve SCHAEFER and daughter Nadine and her husband Majid MOHAMMADI, all of Toronto. John also leaves 4 grandchildren - grand_sons Alexander and Kurt and granddaughters Nicole and Brianna. John is also survived by his brother, Leo of Midland, Ontario. John was predeceased by his mother, Marie Emelda BERTRAND and father, Elie Regis ARPIN. John and his family greatly appreciate the excellent care provided by the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care, and treatments at Princess Margaret and Mount Sinai Hospitals, as well as services organized by Toronto's Community Care Access Centre (e.g. St. Elizabeth's Nurses). The family will receive Friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home - A.W. Miles Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Eglinton Avenue East), 1-800-616-3311, from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. Thursday, November 15 and Friday, November 16. A Prayer Service will be held on Friday evening at 7: 30 in the chapel. Mass of Christian Burial will be held in Saint Michael's Cathedral, 65 Bond Street, Toronto on Saturday, November 17 at 10: 00 a.m. If desired, donations in John's memory may be made to the Saint Michael's Choir School, 67 Bond Street, Toronto M5B 1X5, 416-393-5518, The Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, 269 Jarvis Street, Unit 7, Toronto M5B 2C5, www.capo.ca. Condolences and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.

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ARPIN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-11-12 published
ARPIN, John Francis Oscar
Died peacefully on November 8, 2007 at the age of 70, with his loving wife and family at his side. John was born in Port McNicoll, Ontario on December 3, 1936. He was an internationally acclaimed pianist, composer, arranger and performed in a variety of settings including upscale clubs and concert halls both as a soloist or with symphonies. He also produced and wrote music for several television series, including TVO's Polka Dot Door. John brought joy to many through his gift of music, his passion for and engagement in life and through his charm and wit. He will be forever missed by his wife, Mary Jane ESPLEN and his children - son, Bob and his wife Lynne; daughter Jennifer and her husband Steve SCHAEFER and daughter Nadine and her husband Majid MOHAMMADI, all of Toronto. John also leaves 4 grandchildren - grand_sons Alexander and Kurt and granddaughters Nicole and Brianna. John is also survived by his brother, Leo of Midland, Ontario. John was predeceased by his mother, Marie Emelda BERTRAND and father, Elie Regis ARPIN. John and his family greatly appreciate the excellent care provided by the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care, and treatments at Princess Margaret and Mount Sinai Hospitals, as well as services organized by Toronto's Community Care Access Centre (e.g. St. Elizabeth's Nurses). The family will receive Friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home - A.W. Miles Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Eglinton Avenue East) from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. Thursday, November 15 and Friday, November 16. A Prayer Service will be held on Friday evening at 7: 30 in the chapel. Mass of Christian Burial will be held in Saint Michael's Cathedral, 65 Bond Street on Saturday, November 17 at 10: 00 a.m. If desired, donations in John's memory may be made to the Saint Michael's Choir School, 67 Bond Street, Toronto M5B 1X5, 416-393-5518, The Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, 269 Jarvis Street, Unit 7, Toronto M5B 2C5, www.capo.ca. Condolences and memories may be forwarded through. www.humphreymiles.com

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ARPIN o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-11-17 published
Pianist was the 'Chopin of Ragtime' and a master of all musical genres
As a composer, his music was heard on Polka Dot Door as well as daily on Morningside. As a performer, he made more than 60 albums. 'He was one of those naturals'
By Lisa FITTERMAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S11
By all rights and the laws of human physiology, John ARPIN should never have been a pianist. His hands seemed too small, with short, delicate fingers that somehow spanned not only octaves but whole musical genres, from classical and opera to Broadway, the Beatles and ragtime.
Couple those hands with an encyclopedic general knowledge of music, add the gift of the gab, and you had a consummate entertainer who, over the course of half a century, released no less than 67 recordings and often engaged his audiences in impromptu history lessons about what he would play.
"You really felt you were part of a John Arpin performance, rather than just an observer," said Howard CABLE, who gave the pianist one of his earliest professional gigs back in 1956 as part of a band playing at the General Motors show at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
"I hired him as a sub but soon realized that I'd better keep him on full-time because he was terrific," Mr. CABLE recalled. "He may have been young but he was confident beyond his years. I don't know how he was so confident. I remember asking him where he was from. When he said 'Port McNicoll,' well, I said that I didn't think anyone came from there. But he was one of those naturals, I guess, destined to become a star."
Georgian Bay Boyhood
John ARPIN grew up in Port McNicoll, Ontario, where he was the second of Elie and Marie ARPIN's two sons. His parents ran a general store in the little Georgian Bay town that was once known as "the Chicago of Canada" for its shipping and grain-handling facilities, and instilled in their children both their devout Catholic faith (his mother attended church every day) and their love of music.
Mr. ARPIN often spoke of a gift his parents gave him for Christmas when he was a teenager: a recording of a Puccini opera. At first, he looked on the gift askance. Opera? For him? To make his parents happy, or at least keep them at bay, he played it. It wasn't half-finished before he was crying like a baby and asking for more.
His introduction to piano was through his brother, Leo, who was 10 years older and started to take lessons when his sibling was still a toddler. As Leo banged out chords and scales, little John mimicked the sounds. Soon, he was picking out tunes, displaying an innate musicality, a perfect pitch and the sense of storytelling that would help him to become one of the most beloved and admired pianists of his generation.
By the time he was a teenager, he'd learned everything he could from the few piano teachers in the region, and his mother began accompanying him on long weekly bus trips to Toronto so that he could continue his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
"It couldn't have been easy on her," remarked Mr. ARPIN's wife, Mary Jane ESPLEN. " John's mother had a sensitive stomach and apparently, she would be sick all the way down and all the way back. But she was devoted and believed in her son's talent."
Indeed, when her son expressed an interest in becoming a doctor and even insisted on studying medicine for a short time, his mother was dead set against it. "You're too emotional to do that," she told him repeatedly. "You're too sensitive."
In a way, she was right, for Mr. ARPIN was not the kind of man to keep things bottled up inside. He was the opposite of stoic, and had a tendency to cry at the drop of a hat. "He didn't have to maintain a strong outer front," continued Dr. ESPLEN, a clinician and scientist at the University of Toronto. "He loved a lot of things that most men wouldn't be caught dead doing, things such as picking out flowers, shopping for groceries and even for clothes for me. And he listened. Oh, how he listened.
"You know, he would have made a wonderful psychiatrist."
Conservatory Graduation
At 16, Mr. ARPIN graduated from the conservatory, continuing his studies at University of Toronto before embarking on a career during which the American jazz great Eubie Blake called him "the Chopin of Ragtime." After his stint with Mr. CABLE's band, he began in the 1960s to perform with his trio and as a soloist in Toronto bars and hotel lounges; bespectacled and with a Prince Valiant haircut, he entertained patrons with a repertoire that - besides ragtime - featured classics, stride piano, bebop, traditional jazz and film and stage tunes.
In the late 1960s, he joined CTV as the network's music director, and in 1976, he became the first Canadian to make a "direct-to-disc" recording, then a new kind of album where the entire side was cut in one take. RCA producer Jack Feeney explained at the time that such recordings required musicians who performed perfectly, and that Mr. ARPIN was the perfect choice - "a definitive pianist, one who plays crisply and with very few mistakes."
Throughout the 1970s, his composition Jogging Along was the theme song for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program Morningside, while "John Arpin Sundays" at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinberg, Ontario, were much-anticipated weekly events over a period of 20 years.
In 1984, he moved to TVOntario as writer, director and performer for the station's beloved children's program Polka Dot Door. On camera, he was a natural, interacting with the stuffed animal characters Humpty, Dumpty, Marigold and Bear with a childlike wonder, zest and curiosity.
He was always a fixture at concerts and summer festivals throughout Southern Ontario, and he toured the rest of the world whenever time allowed, building an international reputation as a consummate professional who always put his own spin on whatever he was playing.
'Know The Lyrics'
"Know the lyrics," he was wont to say to artists he mentored. In other words, they had to understand and tease out the story of a piece of music through the language of cadence and melody, whether or not there were actual lyrics to follow.
Alongside his own prolific concert and recording career, Mr. ARPIN served as music director and accompanist to both Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester and to actress-singer Louise Pitre, who made an international splash in her 2001 Broadway debut as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! At times, he also acted as music arranger for artists such as Tommy Hunter and Roy Payne.
His recordings ranged the gamut from ragtime through to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, honky-tonk, spirituals and tango. He did three albums with Ms. Forrester, an instrumental album that featured the music of singer-composer Gordon Lightfoot, another of ARPIN at the Opera, The Complete Piano Works of Scott Joplin and seven linked CDs of popular nostalgic tunes.
Throughout his career, he garnered two Juno nominations, won the 1998 Scott Joplin Award from a Missouri foundation dedicated to the preservation of ragtime and was awarded first prize out of 450 entrants in the Yamaha Second International Original Concert Series in Tokyo, this for his composition Lyric Suite for Piano, Strings and Percussion.
Mr. ARPIN parlayed his indefatigable energy into his personal life, too. An avid collector of sheet music and Nippon china, he often "You'd never not know that John was in the room for he was always working it, asking questions and entertaining," said Dr. ESPLEN, whom he married in 1990 in New Orleans. "It didn't matter what walk of life you were from. He was such an authentic presence."
The couple first met in 1986 at a piano lounge in Toronto, when Dr. ESPLEN asked him to play several obscure Scott Joplin songs. Their Friendship gradually turned to love and in 1990, they married - he for the third time - at their good friend Al Rose's home in New Orleans. As Mr. Rose, the noted jazz historian and impresario, escorted the bride down the aisle, Mr. ARPIN played An Affair to Remember on the piano.
Dr. ESPLEN, whose parents owned an antique store, got her husband interested in collecting Nippon china. He took to it so eagerly that she sometimes regretted not encouraging him to collect stamps, which would have been easier to store. "Let me just say that after say the third or fourth new china cabinet I began to get a little worried," she wrote in her blog. "Over the years, we moved on beyond cocoa sets to tea sets and plates, and humidors, and nut sets and juice sets and platters and celery sets… need I say more?"
She was the family accountant, keeping track of purchases and finances because Mr. ARPIN wasn't terribly interested in such things. "He was a real live-for-today kind of guy," she remarked.
He was a loving father to his three surviving children from his first two marriages, while his deep faith got him through the tragedy of the death of a son from sudden infant death syndrome and his own diagnosis a number of years ago of a rare, inoperable and slow-acting form of intestinal cancer.
For Mr. ARPIN, life itself was music, in all its terrible beauty. And he was listening to it right up until the end, including his own Blue Gardenia album of Latin tempo songs and one of his all-time favourites, Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal's I'll Be Seeing You.
John Francis Oscar ARPIN was born on December 3, 1936, in Port McNicoll, Ontario He died at home on November 8, 2007, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 70. He leaves his brother, Leo ARPIN, his wife, Mary Jane ESPLEN, and his children Bob, Jennifer and Nadine. He also leaves grandchildren Alexander, Nicole, Kurt and Brianna.

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ARPPE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-12-15 published
BOISSONNEAU, Alice Irene (EEDY)
In Guelph, Ontario, December 9, 2007. Novelist, poet, short-story writer, social worker by training. Born in Walkerton, Ontario, in 1918, raised in Saint Marys, Ontario, graduated in 1939 from Victoria College, University of Toronto. Loving wife of the late Arthur BOISSONNEAU. Predeceased by her sister, Elizabeth Eedy Brown FRYE (1997,) and her brother, John W. EEDY (1996.) Alice began her adult life as a hospital social worker in Toronto and Vancouver, and wrote short stories in her spare time. Her work appeared in the Canadian Forum, Alphabet magazine, Exile: A Literary Quarterly, and she wrote for the Anthology series on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio. During her life with Arthur, a specialist in forestry, Alice took to writing in an isolated trailer in the northern Ontario woods, in the "clement" months. Her publications included two novels, Eileen McCullough (1976), shortlisted in 1977 for the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and A Sudden Brightness (1994); and a short story, "The McCrimmons", in Stories from Ontario (Germaine Warkentin, ed., 1974). In 1992, she published There Will Be Gardens, a poignant memoir of life in Toronto. A Globe and Mail review at the time described this latter book as mining both the grace, and the "sour, sad stillness" of pre-"world-class" Toronto, in a "long, hypnotic chant…to great literary effect". Her family remembers her as a wonderful cook, who loved music, and encouraged Arthur's recorder group; in her young life, Alice sang folk songs and arias, seated at the piano with her mother. Alice leaves her sisters-in-law, Dorothy EEDY of Saint Marys and Marie MILLER of Woodbridge; her godson, Sy BENSON of Brantford, and her friend Kelli ARPPE of Guelph; and many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews, in communities throughout Canada; and in Hong Kong, China, and London, England. A gathering for family and Friends will take place at 1: 00 p.m. on January 12, 2008, at 54 Paisley Street in Guelph. For further information, please call Gilchrist Chapel in Guelph, at (519) 824-0031. In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to Amnesty International Canada, or Oxfam Canada.

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