Saskatoon pianist Maurice Drouin remembered as ‘great dad and grandfather’

After decades of performing in Saskatoon, piano player Maurice Drouin died at age 82 in Waskesiu, Sask., on Feb. 16, 2019.
After decades of performing in Saskatoon, piano player Maurice Drouin died at age 82 in Waskesiu, Sask., on Feb. 16, 2019. Graham Dyck / Supplied

Late Saskatoon piano player Maurice Drouin is being remembered for the impact he left on the local music scene and his family.

Around 1 p.m. on Feb. 16, Drouin had just set up his piano ahead of a performance in Waskesiu, Sask., when he called his daughter, Lisa Drouin-Gardiner.

READ MORE: Saskatoon-based Cree musicians return from unforgettable Grammys experience

Fifty minutes later, she received another call telling her the news.

“It was sudden and fast, so … I guess you could call it a natural death,” Drouin-Gardiner said.

Her father had died at age 82.

“He was just such a good man,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement
Maurice Drouin died Saturday at age 82.
Maurice Drouin died Saturday at age 82. Graham Dyck / Supplied

Often performing in a style comparable to jazz legend Frank Sinatra, Drouin put on countless shows in the Saskatoon area.

“He played literally all the time. Every week,” his daughter said.

His favourite gig was always the Saskatoon Pets in the Park event, according to his daughter.

“He built relationships with everyone in the community and I think that’s why this death is so tragic to so many people,” Drouin-Gardiner said.

WATCH BELOW: Who is Maurice Drouin?

The artist started playing music as a boy in his hometown of Timmins, Ont., when his father bought him a guitar and his sister a piano.

Story continues below advertisement

He took a liking to the piano, but a music teacher said he couldn’t be a musician because he didn’t read sheet music.

Undeterred, Drouin continued to improve, playing by ear.

WATCH BELOW: ‘Night and Day’ performed by Graham Dyck, Bob Klassen, Maurice Drouin and band

At 19 years old, he owned a music store. At one point, he loaned a guitar to a cash-strapped Stompin’ Tom Connors who was to play at the Maple Leaf Hotel.

The next day, the bar owner walked into Drouin’s store and complained how Connors’ thumping heel wore down his carpet. Drouin suggested putting plywood beneath Stompin’ Tom’s foot.

Story continues below advertisement
“He did – and that’s where the stomping [name] came from,” Drouin told Global News in a July 2014 interview.

READ MORE: Saskatoon Blues in the Schools offers a lesson in First Nations history

The Stompin’ Tom anecdote is one of countless stories cherished by fellow Saskatchewan artist Graham Dyck.

“He’s my best friend,” said Dyck. “We spent so much time together and I don’t think it’s hit me yet, honestly.”

Roughly six years ago, Dyck encountered Drouin playing at an event. After singing a couple bars, Drouin offered him a job.

Travelling together on the road, the singer noticed how Drouin had candid interactions with everyone he met.

“If you met him for two seconds or if you knew him for 20 or 40 years, you had this special relationship that was just yours and his,” Dyck said.

“Everything that I am on stage is what he gave me.”