Hedy Muysson


In her last hour Hedy made us promise yet again that there would be no ceremony or celebration afterwards, so that's the way it will be. We did say we and her other friends would think of her, and she said that was fine.

Hertha (Kirchner) Muysson

Hedy's mother, Hertha Kirchner, November 11, 1918. She was from Berlin and by age 14 was running her own couturier business.

Hedy Muysson

Hedy was born March 15, 1939, in Voorburg, Netherlands.

Hedy Muysson, 1942

Portrait of Hedy taken December 1942 by her father who was a professional photographer in the Netherlands. By this time he was taking photos for the Dutch Resistance to provide forged passports for stranded Allied airmen, while her mother forged the official signatures. Hedy remembers Nazi soldiers searching their house for wanted persons while her parents had one hidden in their house, an offence for which they would have been shot. Warplanes flying over Voortburg formed a lifelong reaction to overhead planes, and the experience of those years was the birthplace of her hatred of war and warmongers. And being Dutch, she loved tulips, but even at the height of the Hunger Winter of 1944-45 she refused to eat a tulip bulb.

Hedy and Wim Muysson

Wim and Hedy, c.1943.

Hedy Muysson

Hedy about age 5 or 6.

Hedy and Wim Muysson with Santa Claus

Hedy with younger brother Wim, and Santa.

Hedy Muysson

A birthday party in Voorburg.

Hedy and Wim Muysson

Hedy and her brother Wim.

Hedy Muysson passport

In May 1951, Hedy's mother, Hertha, emigrated from the Netherlands to Canada, with Hedy and her brothers John and Wim.

Hedy Muysson

Hedy in her woolen bathing suit.

Wim and Herta and Hedy and John Muysson

Back is Wim, Hertha Muysson (Hedy's mother), Hedy.
Front is John's girlfriend and John Muysson.

Hedy's oldest brother, Hans, was the first to migrate to Canada, working on a dairy farm in the Guelph area. After their parents divorced Hans convinced his mother to come to Canada with the other children. It was easier on the kids than her mother, who left behind her business and friends. In Guelph, far from the fashion centres of Europe, it was a matter of gathering up what tailoring and other work she could find. When she finally retired she took up painting (a hint at where some of Wim's talent came from). A self-portrait is now owned by the national Museum of Civilization (now Museum of History).

Hedy Muysson with cat

Probably taken in Guelph.

Hedy and Wim Muysson in Guelph

Hedy and Wim, early days, probably in Guelph.

Hedy Muysson, Guelph, 1955

In Guelph. The print is dated June, 1955.

Hedy Muysson, 1955

The print is dated September, 1955.

Hedy Muysson

Passport photo, 1971.

Hedy Muysson with her grandmother in Rotterdam, possibly 1971

In Rotterdam with her grandmother, 1971?.

Hedy Muysson, Toronto

Early days. Probably Toronto.

Hedy Muysson at Welcome House, Toronto

Hedy started out as a personal secretary in the office towers of Toronto's Bay St. but eventually this began to seem less than fulfilling. She then worked for the Addiction Research Foundation. Eventually she studied Early Childhood Education at Seneca College and after that worked for years with immigrant children at Welcome House in Toronto.

Her good friend Jutta says: "Hedy started working as a shared secretary for me and others at Addiction Research in early 1970 and at that time she was wearing braids. There was some discussion of whether it really made sense to have a 16-year-old working there but then people found out she wasn't as young as she looked. When she first invited me to her apartment on Lonsdale Road I realized that no one who was not an artist could make their apartment as simple and beautiful as hers. Too bad there are no typing photos extant. Hedy was so fast (also with shorthand, as I imagine you saw) and she bought the IBM selectric when she was still working with the kids, so that she could type U of T essays late into the night and sock away the money to buy a farm somewhere."

It was Jutta who invited Hedy along to her first consciousness-raising group, that mainstay of the Women's Movement of that time and later. Hedy remembered how, with her shyness, she never dared to speak at the group. But also the many books joining the group led her to read and things she began thinking more intensely about.

Hedy Muysson at Welcome House, Toronto

Welcome House, Toronto.

Hedy Muysson at Welcome House, Toronto

Welcome House, Toronto.

Hedy Muysson

North of Westport, probably 1989, a year after she moved from Toronto. Here she homesteaded on what used to be a sheep farm – raising goats, chickens, turkeys, tending beehives, selling vegetables from her huge back garden and raising flowers in a second garden to sell as dried flower arrangements and wreaths. Here also she spun and dyed wool and knitted her famous Hedy Hats. Part of her pasture was let out to local farmers to put cattle on, so it was a toss-up who got the apples from her trees – cows, goats, or Hedy.

Hedy Muysson with her home-grown produce

Veggies for Jutta's CSA-type food delivery setup in Toronto, summer of 1990. At this point Charlie and I were still living in the city and would load it all up and take it back with us on Sundays. To supplement her income for years she transcribed radio interviews for Eleanor Wachtel and Writers & Company, and for the CBC's Ideas program. The latter an agony for her as she wrestled with interpreting the heavy accents of various foreign philosophers and poobahs.

Hedy and Pim Muysson

With her half-brother, Pim, who was visiting from Holland, summer of 1990. Better known as Phil Muysson, he was the founder and director of the Dutch publishing firm Bzztoh, as well as one of the founders of the Dutch literary magazine Bzzletin.

Hedy Muysson

A great photo of Hedy taken by her friend Val.

Hedy Muysson's homestead, 1991

Hedy's place, 1991.

Hedy Muysson

In her flower garden where she grew flowers to dry for wreaths. Wim may have taken this photo.

Emma the boss goat

Emma (Goldman) was boss of the herd and Hedy's favourite, but she did bully Agnes (Macphail). 1991. A local animal dealer had heard Hedy was considering goats and one day he drove up in his pickup truck as Hedy and Peter and Charlie were standing around. In the back of the truck were five goats, including Emma. We consulted together and the three of us went in on buying all five, with Hedy the goat herd, and Peter and Charlie goat god-parents.

Domestic turkeys

Turkeys, 1991. They liked to follow you around, jump up on your car for a crap and a better look at you.

Goats at farm

More goats, 1991. And years of twin and triplet births, scampering kids who didn't know which way their legs were going to make them jump as they ran in the fields. Hedy added cheesemaking to her many talents.

Bee hives protected by straw bales

Hedy's bee hives were protected by straw bales, winter of 1990 or 1991. A fearsome sight was Hedy in a beekeeper's protective suit, waving a smoker to calm the bees as she gathered combs to spin in her hand-powered honey extractor.

Hedy and Wim Muysson

Hedy with her brother, the artist Wim Muysson, the person she loved most in the world – at Peter's and Charlie's new farm gate, 1993. Wim couldn't be convinced to buy the place, though he is as excellent a carpenter, renovator and gardener as he is an artist. So we bought it.

Hedy Muysson with her dog Basil, 1994

With Basil. March/April, 1994.

Hedy Muysson and Peter Zorzi

Another photo opportunity for Charlie and his camera, in the days when Hedy was less resistant to having her picture taken. June, 2004.

Elizabeth Proudfoot, Jules Chamberlain, Hedy Muysson in 2004

With Elizabeth and Jules at the Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners, summer of 2004 or 2005.

Hedy Muysson and Mona Stopford

With Mona at the Treefrog Gallery/Molly Hill Market, McDonalds Corners, summer of 2004 or 2005.

Hedy Muysson drying freshly-dyed wool

September, 2004. Part of Hedy's adventures in carding, dyeing, spinning, knitting.

Hedy Muysson at anti-George Bush demo in Ottawa, 2004

Mona, Hedy, Jayne, and Janet at anti-George Bush demo in Ottawa. November, 2004. Hedy sent a donation to the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto, where Janet volunteered. Janet, originally from Westport, happened to be helping process donations and saw Hedy's Westport address. "Hmm, that's interesting, maybe I'll write her a little note!" And in that serendipitous way another lifelong Hedy friendship was born.

Hedy Muysson with Sage the dog

August 2005 with Sage. When we arrived home in Elphin one afternoon there was a strange German Shepherd guarding our house from us. The nerve! We chased her away and across a field. The next morning she was still there peeking out from the edge of the woods. What could you do? So we called to her and she came running. She had no collar, looked like she'd recently had pups, and must have been dumped at the end of our road by someone who no longer wanted her. We did rue the day we taught her to chase sticks but she was the perfect, good-natured, dog – for Hedy! She even had been trained to heel, which we discovered one day when one of us jokingly said "Heel". We kept her for two years, waiting for Olive, the truly miserable dog Hedy had had dumped on her, to reach her end. And when she finally did, Sage and Hedy became inseparable, a true replacement for Basil.

Hedy Muysson, 2006

April, 2006. One of the many seedlings Hedy planted that grew into 20- and 30-foot trees while she lived here.

Hedy Muysson throwing stick for her dog

April, 2006.

Hedy Muysson

July, 2006. Pixelated Hedy (1).

Hedy Muysson with Sage the dog

With Sage, summer, 2006.

Hilary Barnett, Mona Stopford, Ankaret Dean, Hedy Muysson in 2006

With Hilary, Mona, and Ankaret at Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners. August, 2006.

Hedy Muysson at Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners in 2006

Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners. August, 2006.

Hedy Muysson at Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners in 2006

With Charlie and Scott at Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners. August, 2006.

Hedy Muysson

September, 2006. Pixelated Hedy (2).

Hedy Muysson relaxing in her tea house

October, 2006.

Hedy Muysson knitting outdoors

March, 2007.

Jules Chamberlain, Hedy Muysson in 2007

April, 2007. Jules and Hedy in her "Tea House", a porch that Wim built onto the back of her trailer.

Hedy Muysson knitting, 2007

April, 2007.

Death To Uranium! Peter Zorzi, Hedy Muysson, Hugh & Elizabeth Proudfoot at Sharbot Lake in 2007

Peter, Hedy, Hugh, Elizabeth, at Sharbot Lake, July, 2007.

Hedy Muysson at anti-uranium demo, Sharbot Lake in 2007

Sharbot Lake, July, 2007.

Hugh Proudfoot and Hedy Muysson at Sharbot Lake in 2007

With Hugh, Sharbot Lake, July, 2007. There eventually came a point where, because of her bad ankle, Hedy could no longer get out and give 'em hell.

Hedy Muysson and Jules Chamberlain in Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners in 2007

Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners, July, 2007.

Hedy Muysson, Elizabeth Proudfood, Sheila McDonald in McDonald's Corners in 2007

With Elizabeth and Torch at the Molly Hill Market, McDonalds Corners, August, 2007.

Mary Tough and Hedy Muysson in 2007

With Mary at Treefrog Gallery, McDonalds Corners, September, 2007.

Hedy Muysson

February, 2008. In Peter and Charlie's once-upon-a-time kitchen, the sherry glass of Bailey's and the tea with an extra shot of Bailey's now finished. Over the years Hedy developed a taste for cream liquers. This was the beginning . . .

Possibly she'd been making a delivery of Zatoun Fair Trade Extra Virgin Olive Oil From Palestine, the Palestinian conflict becoming more and more central to her way of judging the world. The oil was sourced from her very good friends in Prince Edward County, Michael and Brian, and Zatoun wondered who was this Hedy person selling all this Palestinian olive oil in the backwoods of Eastern Ontario?

Hedy Muysson

February, 2008.

Hedy Muysson

February, 2008.

Hedy Muysson

February, 2008. Hedy in a Rembrandt mood.

Hedy Muysson in her tea house in 2008

June, 2008.

Hedy Muysson and Peter Zorzi in 2008

Hedy and Peter. July, 2008.

Hedy Muysson

August, 2008. Hedy could make anything grow, everything flower. Her mother had a jade plant for years that Hedy inherited and kept for another forty years. In her last year she decided that like her, it had had its turn at life.

Hedy Muysson

September, 2008.

Hedy Muysson

September, 2008.

Hedy Muysson

November, 2008. In a back field that had been reserved for goats, though they always managed to find a way elsewhere.

Hedy Muysson

January, 2009.

Hedy Muysson

January, 2009. Another Hedy creation – the colours always had to be just the right colour. Wool would be dyed and re-dyed or discarded, knitted and ripped out and re-knitted, different kinds of wool rovings experimented with, combined ad infinitum. It was all done inch by inch and the effects considered. Like everything she did in life, things required the proper gestation period. It could be frustrating to an onlooker who was not familiar with the Hedy-way. But of course if you lived on as little as Hedy did, life was full of risks and you had to be sure of all the angles before moving forward. Many with more resources, a larger income, fell by the wayside while Hedy kept on going.

Hedy Muysson

January, 2009.

Hedy Muysson by her former garden

March, 2009. Part of the by then fallow vegetable garden behind the barn. It was irrigated by a pump which drew water from the pond.

Hedy Muysson

April, 2009. By the woodstove in Hedy's living/dining room, where many a political discussion, livened with bottles of wine, lasted late into the night.

Hedy Muysson and Peter Zorzi looking at Hedy's pond

Hedy's pond, October, 2010.

Hedy Muysson's driveway

The driveway approaching Hedy's place, October, 2010. Drive carefully, watch for turtles and snakes and low-flying heron. In earlier years hundreds of swallows used to perch and twitter and dive from those overhead wires, arriving in spring and departing in late summer on predictable dates, nesting in the big barn where Hedy stored hay and where local farmers kept some of their haying machines. Hedy lamented how few swallows now arrive. [*]

Hedy Muysson's screened-in tea house

Her "Tea House", October, 2010. [*]

Hedy Muysson

March, 2011. [*]

Hedy Muysson in 2011

May, 2011. We met Hedy circa 1989-90. Looking at some acreage for sale across the main road we saw a For Sale sign at the end of her driveway, which turned out to be the hunting property across her pond. We turned in and drove and drove and drove until finally we ended up in front of her cabin. There she was in a pink version of the T-shirt she wears in this photo. She was working in the front vegetable garden that rose up towards the cabin and put down her spade to come see who we were. And of course five minutes with Hedy and you became lifelong friends. From that date on we got together at least once a week, sometimes more. And in between we talked on the telephone. To which was added emailing once Hedy overcame her disdain for computers and became an internet junkie.

Hedy Muysson in 2011

May, 2011.

Hedy Muysson and Allan Brown in 2011

With Allan at the McDonald's Corners farmers' market, June, 2011. Hedy met Sue and Allan while they were all living in Toronto in the late 1980's and she sold them her car. When she moved to the Westport property she discovered them living up the road, north of HIghway 7.

Hedy Muysson and Allan Brown in 2011

With Allan at the McDonald's Corners farmers' market, June, 2011. Hedy liked her coffee and liked it strong, and please do you have any cream? If it were tea, well, leave it to brew until the teabags decided it was too much and climbed out of the teapot themselves.

Hedy Muysson

Hedy was camera-shy, although you wouldn't know it from the rest of these photos. Probably summer of 2011. If you wanted to wear a necklace, then let it be a beaded one that you strung together yourself so that the colours were just the right shade, order and balance. [*]

Hedy Muysson's pond in 2011

Hedy's pond, July, 2011. [*]

Hedy Muysson in 2011

McDonald's Corners farmers' market, August, 2011.

Hedy Muysson's dog Sadie

Sadie, July, 2011. Sadie, the replacement for Sage, had been used by her previous owners as a guard dog for a motor home sales yard that was surrounded by chain link fencing. It wasn't in her nature and she was an unhappy and nervous dog when she came to Hedy. But of course life with Hedy was dog nirvana, so she soon settled in and the two became happily attached. [*]

Hedy Muysson with Sadie the dog in 2011

With Sadie, August, 2011.

Hedy Muysson looking over her pond in 2011

Hedy's pond, August, 2011. Near where Hedy wants her ashes scattered.

Hedy Muysson in 2012

June, 2012.

Video of Hedy Muysson at farmers market in 2012

Discovered in May, 2019:
Watch Hedy at the McDonalds Corners Farmers Market.
She buys greens from Janice Lever then realizes she's being photographed – June 30, 2012.
The link shows the video on the Flickr website.

Hedy Muysson with friends at the farmers market in 2012

Aleksandra (holding Juniper), Dawn, Hedy and Janice at the McDonald's Corners farmers' market, June, 2012. With one of Dawn's iron-riveted bowls on the table.

Hedy Muysson with friends at the farmers market in 2012

With John and Aleksandra at the McDonald's Corners farmers' market, September, 2012. (Not a Peter cup).

Hedy Muysson in 2012

McDonald's Corners farmers' market, September, 2012.

Hedy Muysson in 2012

With Sadie, September, 2012. [*]

Hedy Muysson in 2014

With Janet at the McDonald's Corners farmers' market, June, 2014.

Hedy Muysson with cows in 2014

July, 2014.

Hedy Muysson

July, 2014. [*]

Hedy Muysson in Kingston in 2014

July, 2014. Val and Hedy at The Pilot in Kingston, waiting for fish and chips.

Hedy Muysson with friends at the farmers market in 2014

McDonald's Corners farmers' market, August, 2014.

Hedy Muysson by her pond in 2014

Hedy and her pond. October, 2014. Photo by Miriam.
See Ulli Diemer's website: Hedy and Her Place.

Hedy Muysson at Code's Mill, Perth, in 2015

Code's Mill in Perth, January, 2015.

Charlie Dobie, Peter Zorzi and Hedy Muysson in Foodsmith's in Perth in 2015

May, 2015. Charlie, Hedy, Peter, at the checkout counter at Foodsmiths in Perth. The photographer, always present through these years, finally gets someone else to take the picture.

Hedy Muysson in her Tea House in 2015

Through the screen in her "Tea House". August, 2015. [*]

Hedy Muysson with friends at the farmers market in 2015

With Janice and Judy, and a couple of Peter's cups, as Aleksandra (holding blue cup) gets help preparing for her citizenship test. September, 2015.

Hedy Muysson's frozen pond in 2015

Hedy's pond. December, 2015. [*]

Hedy Muysson wearing one of her knitted hats in 2015

Wearing a world-famous Hedy Hat. December, 2015. [*]

Hedy Muysson


See also: Spreading Hedy's Ashes.

Many thanks to Brian Woods for the photos marked [*]

Corrections? Please email Charlie Dobie.

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