Sunday, 12 April 2020

Blog Post, April 12, 2020: "F. S. Richardson, Photographer, Napanee"

And now for something completely different...

The last few weeks, I’ve been posting photographs that weren’t ‘pretty’ in any conventional sense. The objects in the photos had been tossed away and promptly forgotten. I resonated to their basic dignity and integrity and found them to be powerful metaphors.

Today’s photographs are very different indeed. And none of them are even mine!

Some background: my paternal grandfather was Garnet Stickney Tayler (1887-1960), a proud, tenacious, fiercely intelligent man whose influence remains fixed in my soul. His mother was born Ella Stickney, whose family lived north of Napanee, about half-way between Belleville and Kingston in eastern Ontario. She married the Reverend Dr. Melvin Tayler in 1881. Most of the Stickneys were farmers, but there were also Methodist ministers in the fold. They were a solid, well-respected family – pillars of their community. 

Like many other families of their time, they commissioned a professional photographer to record their portraits. For over fifty years, 1869-1920, the photographer of choice in Napanee was Fred S. Richardson. 

Jeanne Hamel, Garnet Tayler’s redoubtable daughter, is my beloved Aunt Jeanne. As she approaches her 100th birthday in June, she lives on her own in east-end Toronto, remains engaged with her church community, and continues to drive. Similar to her father, Jeanne Hamel is proud, tenacious, and fiercely intelligent. 

Occasionally, Aunt Jeanne goes through her family memorabilia and distributes treasures to members of the next generation. ‘Shedding,’ she calls it. One of the treasures she gave me was an album of photos by the aforementioned Fred S. Richardson. She doesn’t know how many of the people in the photos are actual family members. Aunt Jeanne tells me, however, that the people in the album are all part of the wider Stickney circle. I’m assuming – hoping? – that one of the children is my grandfather.

The photos are a wondrous peek into Ontario in the 1880s and 1890s. It is a treasured family heirloom.

Alas, the album itself and several of its photos have deteriorated badly over the years. Recently, I carefully extracted the photos from the album and digitized them. The photos that follow all come from the album. I did a small amount of Photoshop retouching, but not much. I wanted to preserve their current state rather than trying to fully restore them.

So, enjoy looking back 130 years into the eyes of my ancestors and their contemporaries.

Larry Tayler Photography
Belleville, Ontario, Canada      

1 comment:

  1. what a wonderful collection of family photos, you are very lucky to have such a collection