Northern Belle

Robert Popple-2

An avid collector of Canadian art, writer Robert Popple is a former executive of Ontario Hydro with over 32 years of experience in their nuclear-electric program. With extensive research and vivid imagery, he brings the pioneering history of Haliburton to life, leading up to the arrival of Ethel’s family onto the village scene in 1906. Twenty years later, her father had become the town’s leading citizen through hard work and unswerving perseverance.

Ethel, his eldest daughter, who had exhibited artistic talent even as a teenager, headed off to the Ontario College of Art in 1924. There she met the likes of J.E.H. MacDonald and Arthur Lismer, then on the college faculty and like most students of the day, began to emulate their artistic style. She graciously hosted several college faculty and students at her parents’ home in the 1930’s and 1940’s, thereby contributing immeasurably to placing Haliburton on the Canadian art map, painting herself extensively locally and in the Gaspe.

Although she never married, her oft-times fiancé was a famous Canadian baritone Wishart Campbell, known nation-wide as the “Golden Voice of Radio.” An art teacher of outstanding ability to motivate her students, she taught at Northern Secondary School in Toronto for over 30 years until her retirement in 1965.

John Arpin: Keyboard Virtuoso

Robert Popple-3Born 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.