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The mystery of Mona Bates

Concert pianists


We were contacted about these photographs by Pippa Wysong, whose great aunt was Mona Bates.

We were also contacted by Jim Corbett, who writes:

"Because of the diminished clarity of the Ten-Piano Ensemble photo online, I am unable to clearly identify two of the pianists who I suspect are in the photo. Clifford Poole (d:2003) and his wife Margaret Parsons (d:1991) are described in the Canadian Encyclopedia as having performed in Mona Bates' Ten-Piano Ensemble during the War years, in fact Clifford had been a student of Mona Bates during the 1930s. And although you suggest that the photo was taken during the 1950s, might it have been taken a decade earlier?

Clifford remarried in 1993, his widow Irene Poole, is a healthy and active 85 year-old living in Toronto, and his son Douglas, now in his mid 60s also lives in Toronto.

I experienced the great pleasure of performing in Clifford's orchestras for over 20 years until his retirement in 1999, and am still in frequent contact with Irene.

I would be delighted to receive one of the Ten-Piano photos; it would give me great pleasure to give it to Irene or Doug.

Thank you for refreshing my memories of a very dear friend and mentor. I frequently encounter musicians also with fond recollections of learning and making music with Clifford and Margaret; I know too that there are literally hundreds of musicians alive today who harbour similar memories."
-Jim Corbett

We were also contacted by Helen Cannefax, who writes:

"Mona Bates was an incredible teacher, friend and mentor. I feel privileged to have been her student. She was truly inspirational in preparing me for my professional debut with the Hamilton Philharmonic in 1953. The Thursday evening musicales she held in her studio were special opportunities for her pupils to mingle and perform for each other.

'Star' names I remember include Patricia Parr, and Warren Mould - to name just a few. I think i recognize the little girl in the photo but unfortunately, cannot remember her name.

I would so appreciate receiving copies of the pictures of her! I remember vividly - my sessions with her. As I recall, her little dog was named 'Taffy'. - he adored her and had red hair just like his master! Look forward to hearing back from you."
-Helen Cannefax


We're looking for a good home for these photographs from the 1950s.

Mona Bates taught piano for 40 years at her home and studio on Jarvis Street in Toronto.
At that time she was considered one of the greatest concert pianists Canada had produced.

Mona Bates was also known for the 10-piano ensembles she organized to aid the Red Cross and other charities.

Are you related to Mona Bates? Were you a student? Are you the girl seated at the piano in the picture below? Contact us and we'll forward the pictures.