J. Gordon Henderson was born in Brantford, Ontario in 1913. He grew up in Toronto and moved to Goderich, Ontario in 1939, where he purchased J.W. Trussler’s photography business located on the corner of Hamilton Street and the Square. An advertisement appeared in the March 23, 1939 issue of the Goderich Signal Star announcing Henderson’s new business.
During World War II, he travelled to air training schools in Goderich, Port Albert, and Clinton taking pictures of classes and other base activities. Many airmen came to his studio in Goderich to have their portraits taken to send home to family and friends. The Henderson Collection also includes wedding portraits, candid shots, and correspondence related to WWII air training in Huron County.
Henderson met his wife, Mary McKay, when she came into his studio to have her photo taken as the maid of honour for her best friend’s wedding. They were married on May 8, 1943. Later that year, they opened J.G. Henderson’s Book Store at 4 the Square in Goderich, where Garb and Gear Source for Sports is currently located. Mary worked at the store and assisted with various aspects of the photography business, such as hand tinting the photographs.
While Henderson’s Book Store only operated out of one location throughout its history, Henderson’s photography studio had several locations in Goderich over the years, including 56 the Square, 4 the Square and in his home on Nelson Street. Eventually, the studio moved into the second floor above the bookstore. Most of the portraits taken during WWII were done at the Hamilton Street studio.
After selling his bookstore in 1979, Henderson retired from both businesses on February 28, 1980. For the most part, he stopped taking pictures after he retired. During his career, Henderson took pictures for Sheaffer Pen catalogues, was a photographer for Dominion Roads, and travelled across Southwestern Ontario taking school photographs. Throughout his forty years as a professional photographer in Goderich, Henderson only shot and developed in black and white film, never making the switch to colour film. Ever the professional, Mr. Henderson always wore a tie, even when working in the dark room.
Henderson was involved in the community as a member of Knox Presbyterian Church, Knox Church Chancel Choir, MacKay Choristers and the Goderich Business Men’s Association. He died on June 16, 1989. His family donated his professional work and equipment to the Huron County Museum in 1992.