All Photos and information from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
Annie Elexey Duff was born in Carleton Place in 1871. Her early life was spent at “Oreno Villa”, the family homestead at Duff’s Bay on the 11th Concession of Beckwith. The Duff family was the last family to have logging rights on the Mississippi. She studied painting and fashion design in New York City in the late 1890’s and spent time working there for Vogue Magazine.
For reasons unknown she returned home to live with her sister Denysa. Annie and spent her time painting and taking photographs. Her work depicts rural life in Ontario and includes scenic landscapes, scenes of hunting, camping, family life and wildlife. She was known for hiding in greenery with food in her hands to order to attract the birds! I had no idea she took photographs too, and she worked at the photographic firm of S.J. Jarvis in Ottawa during the last decade of the 19th century. She was an eccentric woman with long red hair and loved wearing her favourite purple dress. I loved the fact that she wore a fur stole no matter how warm it was outside.
No one can recall how much of her work sold. When her parents died the girls were left the family homestead. The National Gallery of Canada holds much of Annie’s original works and she is credited as the first Canadian female to portray maternity in “Woman by the Sea”. In 1976, the National Gallery of Canada purchased Duff’s Temptation, Sin, and it’s Antidote (Adam and Eve) and Woman by the Sea to add to its Canadian collection. Most of Duff’s works remain in private collections and the majority of her paintings and photographs captured rural life in Ontario at the turn of the 20th century. Anna died in 1956.
DUFF Annie Elexey x b.1873 – Carleton Place, ON d.1956 – Photo from Annie Duff Website