John Arpin


Born and raised in Port McNicoll, John Arpin discovered his musical talents early: at the age of four he could pick out tunes on the piano that he had heard on the radio; by ten, he had been identified as a child prodigy by a Royal Conservatory of Music adjudicator. He would go on to become one of Canada’s finest keyboard virtuosos, playing at concert halls around the world. Equally at ease performing solo piano concerts, being accompanied by a full symphony orchestra, jamming with jazz greats, or accompanying opera singers, he was, perhaps, best known as the premier ragtime pianist of his day.

This authorized biography is based on more than 40 hours of conversation during the last four years of John’s life and supported by extensive research. Included are his friendships with Glenn Gould, Gordon Lightfoot, and others, his years as the designated artist for Yamaha, and his rise to prominence as a veteran of the concert stage. His stories represent pure Canadian music history.


This is a lively and sympathetic portrait of a seminal figure in Canadian music. Popple's ability to convey what is special about Arpin's music led me-to my delight-to listen to Arpin's recordings of Scott Joplin.

About the Author

Robert Popple

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Robert Popple

Robert Popple first met John Arpin at the Midland Music Festival in the 1940s. He followed Arpin's career with great enthusiasm for more than 58 years. Popple is also an accomplished amateur pianist. He lives at Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island.