Agnes Loynd Heeley [ 1823 (Approx.) - 1906 ]

Agnes Heeley was, according to some sources, the first resident photographer in Fenelon Falls, although in the 1871 Census it is William Heeley, her husband, who is listed as the photographer. Even as William’s assistant she was certainly one of the few women working in photography in the province. The photo studio was set up in 1872. By 1874, another photographic firm arrived in the village (Johnston & Marshall), and Heeley took on millinery to diversify her business, and perhaps stave off her losses. In any event she appears to have abandoned photography after 1874.

In a surviving photograph dating from 1873 the back of the image is stamped as follows: “Mrs. Heeley | Photographer, | Brockport, N.Y.” The subject of the photograph is John and Martha Copp and their two children Euenia (born Jan 1870) and William John (born Sept 1871). As farmers at Balsam Grove in Fenelon Township, they would not be travelling to New York State. It would appear that William and Agnes Heeley moved from Brockport to Fenelon Falls sometime between 1870 and 1871. This photograph, based on the age of the children, dates to 1873. Further supporting evidence comes from the 1881 Census where Ida Heeley, age 12, was born in the United States.

Mrs. Heeley stayed in Fenelon Falls and concentrated her efforts on millinery. Her millinery shop (included also were fancy goods) was a fixture of the main street, albeit in various locations, for the next quarter century. Heeley first announced her removal from business in July of 1895, and moved to Minden to open a shop there in December [FFG 13 Dec 1895; 4]. Nevertheless she was back in Fenelon Falls by March of 1896 and had opened up again [FFG 6 March 1896; 4]. By December she again decided to sell off the millinery stock [FFG 11 Dec 1896; 1], but was still selling hats in March of 1898. Her name appears in the directories until the early months of 1900.

We know she stayed in FF; her daughter, Mrs. James D. Cameron of Orillia, Washington Territory, U.S.A., arrived “for a long visit with her mother, Mrs. Heeley” in May 1903 [FFG 29 May 1903; 4]. She died in 1906 and was buried in the Fenelon Falls Cemetery.

We know very little of Mr. William Heeley. He is listed, as noted above, as a Photographer in the 1871 census, and as a merchant in 1881. Although advertised under the name of “Mrs. Heeley”, William may have been the legal owner… [Finish] , except that E.D. Hand, tellingly perhaps, refers to him as the “boss fisherman of this village” [FFG 5 August 1882; 2].

For Fenelon Falls, see Glen C. Phillips, The Ontario Photographers List (1851-1900). (Sarnia : Iron Gate, 1990) : 27. In the 1871 Census it is William Heeley who is listed as the photographer.

(351) Full disclosure: My great grandparents.

The 1881 Census does list William Heeley as a 55 year-old “merchant” and his wife as a “milliner.”

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