William Dichmont was a pianist, organist, violinist, teacher, conductor, composer. He studied piano and violin with Gerhard Kuhnel and later attended the Manchester School of Music. For a time he was assitant conductor of the Princess Theatre and Royal Theatre orchestras in Manchester. In 1903 he moved to Winnipeg, where he taught piano and violin at the College of Music and privately. Among his pupils was Russell E. Chester. By 1909 he was supplementing his income by accountancy, and later he worked in a brokerage firm. In 1915 he went overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, serving until 1917, when he joined his brother in Vancouver. There he became known as a composer and voice coach and also served as organist at the Second Church of Christ Scientist. It was in Vancouver that the Winnipeg tenor George Kent studied with him.
Nearly all of Dichmont's compositions are vocal, and most of these songs with piano accompaniment. 'Ma little banjo' (Schirmer 1917) was probably his best-known song although 'Such a Li'l' Fellow' was recorded by Alma Gluck for Victor in 1917 and also was sung by her in recital. He wrote most of his own lyrics, using the pseudonyms Arthur Rutherford and Frances Lowell, and came to be regarded as one of the most successful Canadian songwriters of the day. In 1911 in Winnipeg he wrote and produced the musical play Miss Pepple (of New York), with book and lyrics by Charles.S. Blanchard; it was published by Wray's Music Store in Winnipeg in the same year. Approximately 40 of Dichmont's songs were issued by John Church, Ditson, Presser, Ricordi, G. Schirmer, and Wood between 1910 and 1930. A list appears in Catalogue of Canadian Composers. Excerpts from Miss Pepple are reprinted in CMH