We called her Cousin Alma. She felt being called an aunt sounded older. She was my mother’s third cousin. The story goes that her father liked to drink and Alma’s mother (Granny, we called her) did not think that children should be brought up this way. So Mr. Clutton moved to Detroit and sold furniture.
Granny was brought up as a Quaker (Society of Friends). So that is why Cousin Alma went to Detroit to go to school in photography. Her only brother, Ernest, had a farm on Pelee Island and was the first to experiment in growing tobacco there; and the first in Ontario to grow soybeans.
I do not know when she graduated, but my father said she was the best photographer of children. She had many different toys in her studio that made sounds to get your attention. Her camera was a big box under a curtain on a stand that rolled to wherever you wanted. Cousin Alma took over the business from a man who'd retired (and inherited his glass negatives).
We had many photos taken of us. When I was older she would invite me down to the studio to learn about photography. Alma Clutton trained two girls from around Norwich in photography, and I know one [later] worked in Toronto.
After graduating, Cousin Alma travelled to Europe and Egypt (about 1921?). I have seen photos of hers of the pyramids. She visited the Cluttons in southern France and by this introduction is how my mother, Lettuce Clutton, came to Canada to the Cluttons in Norwich.
I remember Cousin Alma was like the movie ‘Auntie Mame’: always wanting us to learn something different. She took Alma Sutton (a cousin) and myself to Toronto to see a ballet; stay in a hotel overnight; to a soup kitchen to see the less fortunate and eat cabbage soup, and home again on the train. [That] was really something back in our day!
When Mother took us down to visit them in Norwich, Cousin Alma always made a cake and would get a block of ice cream from the store. That was really a treat for us farm children.
I do not think she made much money but she enjoyed her job. When Cousin Alma died, her brother, Cousin Ernest, sold the big camera.
With the help of Miss Mott, a high school teacher in Norwich, Alma started a museum. They collected things people did not want, or bought items they thought should be saved, and stored them upstairs over the post office"
Extra Information From Quiz Committee: Alma Clutton died on October 10, 1955, aged 82. A large collection of glass negatives (inherited from the previous photographer) and Alma’s tintype photos is now housed at the Norwich and District Archives.
Alma was born in 1873, the oldest child of John A. Clutton and Anna Jane (nee Moore) Clutton. In Detroit, Alma studied photography with F.W. Schaldenbrad. Later, it was Alma’s apprentice Jean Gainfort Merril who went on to open her own studio in Toronto. Jean also joined the Canadian Press Photographers’ Union: its first female member.
Alma Clutton died on October 10, 1955, aged 82. A large collection of glass negatives (inherited from the previous photographer) and Alma’s tintype photos is now housed at the Norwich and District Archives.