Wednesday, June 2, 2010

mystery woman cover-up...

I rather like things from the past...and so have quite a few old things in our home.  I found a very old picture frame at an antique store during our travels a few years back...which now frames a photo of two little girls from five decades ago and hangs in our great room.  I mentioned to a friend that it would be nice to have a matching frame on the other side of the large window.  It was a simple statement...not a hint!  The next time she came for a visit...she brought me a matching frame from her collection of antiques.  She wasn't using it...and thought I should.  How nice is that? 

The frame came complete with a portrait...of a serious and contemplative young woman.  Though I am sure someone would like to have this portrait...especially if she happens to be a great grandmother or me she had no significance...and so I set about to find another old-fashioned picture to put in the frame. 

It was only as I was placing the new photo in the frame...that I saw the signed label of the photographer/artist on the back.  So I did my research...of course.  Who was Gus A Maves?  I discovered that he was a famous Victoria photographer whose works are now featured in the B.C. archives at the Royal BC Museum.  He was born in Toronto in 1882...and was most active in Victoria during the 1920's and 30's. 

He specialized in scenic landscapes for postcards, and photography of homes, gardens and agricultural activities. His wife Margaret did the coloring of his photographs and also “transformations” to turn a photograph into a piece of art.

So here is what I know...this portrait was taken around the turn of the last century in Toronto.  That's it!  I contacted someone who was looking for any artwork of Mr. Maves...and he was quite willing to take the 'mystery woman' off my hands...if I would package her up and send her his way.  But I decided that I would just keep 

She is now covered up...and hangs on my great room wall...beneath an 'old west' photograph that we had taken on our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.  Even that is almost an antique by now! 

But if you think the mystery woman belongs in your family tree...let me know.  She can always be uncovered!

Enjoy the day...


  1. That's great that the photography has some history that was accessible. I have photos from Dear's side of the family that I have no idea who they are. Makes me think I should write on the back of all my photos :0)

  2. It is so intriguing to wonder who sent their antique frame including the original photo to a antique store. I wonder what the story is behind that one.
    I never say never so maybe google will come to your site if someone types in that photographers name.
    I can see the blog post now. .the family coming to claim their great great grandmothers portrait.
    I also have some old family photos with no name. .but I'll keep them respectfully safe in a home from their heritage.

  3. Have you ever looked through the boxes of old photos in an antique store? They're fascinating! I love old photos, and managed to rescue a collection from my FIL's albums after he passed away. It took us ages to figure out who some of the people were, because either names hadn't been written on the back, or were destroyed by the glue used to secure them to the album originally. They're wonderful additions to the antique feel I like to have in my house.

  4. she doesn't belong to my family tree but I like what your sleuthing uncovered.

  5. I like that you looked up the details to this photo. We have access to so much info on the computer. Years from now they will find our pictures. Maybe I should share some details on the backs of my photos. I hope we get to hear the rest of this story, if you do.

  6. I hope someone claims this photo. It's a sad thing to me to see old photos in antique or second-hand stores. I think about the lives the people in them lived, and who loved them, and finally, who no longer remembered them. I'm so thankful that even though people forget, God never does. He knows the name of that woman.

  7. Wonderful bit of research you were able to do. Very interesting. Who knows? Perhaps someone will recognize this lovely young woman as his/her own.

  8. How sweet you are to try and find a family member that would love to have such a find. I too love old photos, especially those in my family tree.

    Love that you ..... take the time!


  9. How fascinating! I always feel a little sad when I see boxes of vintage photographs for sale at flea markets and antique events. I wonder why their relatives didn't want the old photos?

    I'm glad you are keeping this mystery woman "safe." Perhaps one day her story will be found/

  10. wow yes! i collect antique photos of people... sometimes there are names and dates and locations. it is sad and unfortunate that these photos are not in the possession of family members -- this must happen when there are estate auctions??? so i'm setting up an "unknown people" page with the keywords / names search-able by google. maybe someone somewhere will find one! sometimes i am able to find ancestors and contact them if there are enough clues. it's kinda fun! :) thanks for sharing.

  11. Ohh Judy, how fascinating that is !
    I just KNOW there is a story that woman could tell. If only the photgraph could talk!
    I hope one day you might stumble on more information. I'm delighted you found out as much as you did !

  12. What a perfect match. I too am wondering if someone will claim this photo?
    It's interesting how someone else may find the perfect match for you, just like us trading our teaspoons.

  13. As always such interesting posts Judy:) Hope you find a relative!

    It has been raining here for ages too, with a few peeks at the sun now and again.

  14. What an interesting story... and you didn't need "Antiques Roadshow" to discover it!

  15. She is beautiful, isn't she? I'm glad you decided to keep her safely in her frame for a while longer. Perhaps, through the wonders of blogging she'll be claimed by her descendents.

  16. Hi. Well I found you by looking up Gus Maves who is my 3rd cousin. I am doing a search on Ancestry and thought of doing an image search to see if I could find any info about him. Your little burp about him has given me an idea to go to the library to search. Many thanks. I don't know who the lady is, but she is beautiful. I am located in Victoria now so I can check it out. My grandmother would be 1st cousin to Gus. cheers.... trudy

    1. Thanks for the note. I hope your search of the library turns up so more info about Gus Maves!

  17. Hi, I wrote an article about Gus A. Maves for the Vancouver Postcard Club back in 2010. It's online here:


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson