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February 26, 2010

Genealogy Treasures: A Watercolour Spurs Us to Find Out More


My husband's grandmother gave him this watercolour painted in 1916 by J. Ades Fowler. We did a little research and found that the artist's full name was Joseph Ades Fowler and he died 5 March 1921 in Huron County Ontario.

According to his death certificate, Joseph Ades was born in Brighton England on 19 August 1850. His profession is given as architect, which surprised me. I thought he would be listed as an artist but perhaps painting was a hobby and not a profession for him.

His death certificate also revealed that Joseph Ades had a son Henry Ades Fowler who was living in Maywood (?) Illinois at the time of his father's death. Joseph Ades was living in Goderich Ontario at the time of his death.

We're very interested in learning more about Joseph Ades Fowler! When did he come to Canada from England? Why did his son move to Illinois - and what happened to him? Did he have other children and if so, did they stay in Ontario or move to the USA?

How did Joseph Ades' painting end up in an antique store or auction? Was he a prolific painter? His work seems quite good, but did he only paint a few or did he paint dozens?

Did he design any of the buildings in Goderich?

If you are an antique hunter as my husband and I are, you know how compelling the stories of the person who owned the object are. Genealogy and antique hunting go hand in hand. We like to find out about the people behind the objects - the provenance as it is called by antique enthusiasts. Sometimes we've been lucky enough to meet up with a descendant, and sometimes the antique ends up being returned to the family.

So Joseph Ades Fowler - who are you and what buildings did you design and see built in your lifetime? Where are your children or grandchildren?

If anyone has any answers or any more clues, please leave a comment here on this blog. Perhaps with help we can find a living descendant.

 UPDATE Aug. 21, 2013: I received this email today:  

Several years ago you posted an inquiry (that I just saw) about a painting by Joseph Ades Fowler. I’m not very good at reading blogs and how to reply on them so not sure if you received any replies. Joseph Ades married by maternal great grandfather’s sister Mary Heathcote Green. Joseph came to Toronto, Canada, it seems by himself, around 1870. 

Two years later, in the spring of 1872 Mary came to Toronto from London England with her father Josiah James Green (a druggist/chemist), mother and 3 siblings. Joseph Ades and Mary were married in the fall of 1872. I don’t know if they knew each other in England but in researching the Toronto directories discovered they lived on the same street in Toronto so perhaps that is how they met! 

 I haven’t come across anyone else online researching my extended family but I do have some information on their family in my old research files (which I have yet to document) so if your questions about Joseph Ades haven’t already been answered let me know and I will dig in my files and send you some answers about his career and family. 

Thanks, Gayle Farnes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The best source of information on Canadian architects of that period is The Dictionary of Architects in Canada (it's online). Joseph Ade Fowler's page is here: