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ARCHIVED - William James Topley:
Reflections on a Capital Photographer

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The Studio


Photograph of William De Courcy's residence in Rockcliffe, Ontario, 1920s

Residence of William De Courcy, 555 Acacia Avenue, currently the Egyptian embassy, Rockcliffe, Ontario

John Topley, William's father, was a saddler who had come to Canada from Ireland. His was not a rags-to-riches story. John Topley had an untimely death in his early 40s. However, William fared better. His entrepreneurial abilities, interest in his community and evident personal charm led to financial security and friendships with royalty. William's son became even richer: the home of William De Courcy Topley is now the residence of the Egyptian ambassador to Canada. But no direct descendants of William Topley remain. His daughter, Helena Sarah, married late and had no children. The only daughter of William De Courcy died in infancy. Yet the Topley legacy continues to enrich us all: the photographic records of the lives and events from Canada's first half-century have been guarded and cared for by Canada's national archives, and are now more widely available than ever imagined in Topley's lifetime.