The Female Artist from Carleton Place That Never Went Viral



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

Annie Duff website

Photos and info from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum



Lost Ottawa
June 2, 2016  · 

Lover’s Walk around Parliament Hill (about half way up the cliff from the River). Sketched by Annie Duff from Beckwith Township, who studied art at Ottawa’s Coligny College beginning in 1890.

If you are looking for fine summer outing, the Carleton Place and Beckwith Museum is having an exhibit of the art and photographs of Annie Duff this summer.

The CP&BM says that: “After graduation Annie worked at Topley’s Photography Studio on Sparks Street, and later went to New York City where she worked as an illustrator for Vogue Magazine.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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