Master Opticians

Master Opticians

John Chesser – Optician / Owner

johnJohn Chesser was born in British Columbia, and also lived in Montreal and Ottawa before moving to Peterborough.

John received a Business education from Algonquin College, Ottawa, and an Optical education from Ryerson Technical Institute and Seneca College, both in Toronto.

This training brought John to Peterborough in 1979 when he accepted the position as Office Manager with George H Nelms, Ltd. The Ottawa based Optical Firm already had numerous locations in Ottawa and was looking to expand. John opened the first “out-of-Ottawa” store for the Company, and made it one of the most successful stores in the family-run chain.

Almost 20 years later, with no heir among the Nelm’s family to continue the family business, John, Susan and Hugh decided to gather what they had learned, and MASTER OPTICIANS was born.

John has always enjoyed the technical side of making eye glasses. Using state or the art equipment, John is able to edge, groove, drill, notch, and mount a wide variety of prescription lenses. John takes pride in a beautiful assembled pair of glasses!

John is married to Michelle, and they have a daughter, perhaps a future Optician! The family enjoys camping and kayaking in summer months, and curling in the winter. Plus, they are also kept very busy with local theatre groups both at Showplace, in Peterborough and at The Barn, in Ennismore.


Hugh Foley – Optician /Owner

hughHugh Foley has been an Optician for 30 – plus years. When people ask him, “what do you do for a living?”, he responds, “I help people to see better”.

George H Nelms, Ltd. of Ottawa and Pembroke was Hugh’s first position. When Mr Nelms wanted to open an office in Peterborough he offered Hugh a new position, where he met John and Susan. When the Nelms family had no one to continue in the family business, they liquidated all offices.

Thus, Master Opticians was founded in 1997, with Susan, John, and Hugh. The culmination of many years of friendship and of working together.

Ryerson Poly Tech and Seneca College, both in Toronto, Georgian College in Barrie, and Emerald Education Systems (low-vision) in the USA, have all added to Hugh’s knowledge
in the optical field. He has also learned the methods of refraction (sight testing). Hugh is a Certified Contact-Lens Fitter and is especially comfortable fitting bifocal contacts, as he wears them. Hugh is trained as a Low -Vision Dispenser, and is a registered vender with Assistive Devices, a program that helps finance low-vision aids.

Hugh and Theresa raised four children and have become “empty-nesters”. They have also become grandparents. “A highly recommended status!”, says Hugh.
Thus, they have found time to voulenteer. They have traveled with Lifewater Canada, who drill fresh-water wells in isolated communities around the world, and have become involved with Africa. Hugh has become the co-ordinator for Lifewater Canada and The Lifewater Kenya, Africa. He always takes used eyeglasses to distribute, and is constantly collecting. You can drop off any used eyeglasses at our office.

When asked if he will be retiring anytime soon, he responds, “… I’m still having fun, and enjoying what I do, so – NO!”.


Susan Newton – Optician /Owner

susanSusan Newton has worked in the eye-care field for thirty-eight years. Her career began as an Optometric and then as an Opthalmic assistant. She earned her Opthalmic Dispensing License in 1984.

John invited Susan to join himself and Hugh in operating the George H Nelms, Ltd. store in 1982. And thus began a friendship, and a respect for each others work ethic, that led to the trio establishing MASTER OPTICIANS .

As President of the newly formed independent company, Susan enjoys the ability to use lens and frame products from whichever manufacturer that Master Opticians deems to have the best options for each individual client. Unlike chain stores, Master Opticians has no head-office that limits product options. ” If we want Nikon, we use Nikon,” says Susan, “or if we need to custom design a difficult contact lens, we can”.

Susan’s philosophy, and that of Master Opticians, is to use the best products that meet the vision demands of each client. “People do not have static lives”, says Susan, “it is important that a client’s eye wear supports and enhances enjoyment of their activities”.

Susan and her husband, Michael, live on a farm in Ennismore. They have two daughters. They love spending time, at home or the cottage, with their two grandchildren. Susan has been a member of Girl Guides of Canada for many years and enjoys camping and canoeing. She also loves to relax with a good book.

Susan enjoys being a partner in Master Opticians because the business is ever changing. “It is stimulating,” she says, “to be challenged by new optical products, or government tax changes, or new ways to improve customer service”.


Melissa Brooks – Administration

melissaMelissa Brooks is the smiling face at the front desk! Melissa attended Adam Scott Collegiate, and then Sir Sanford Flemming where she completed the Medical Office Administration Course. Her daily routine involves managing the appointments for the Doctor’s eye-health exams, contact lens fittings, field tests, HRT tests, and Doctor referrals to and from the office.

Melissa was born in Peterborough and lives in Bridgenorth, where she and her husband, Michael, have a hobby farm. She enjoys camping, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.

As a young girl, Melissa was actually in one of Susan Newton’s Girl Guide Troops ! Therefore, Melissa belongs as part of the “family” of Master Opticians!

Melissa has been with Master Opticians since May of 2004. She enjoys her job very much and enjoys working with … “such wonderful people”, she says.


Theresa Butcher – Administration

theresaTheresa Butcher attended PCVS and Sir Sandford Flemming. She completed the Medical Ward Secretary course, as well as a Microsoft Excel course.

Theresa also is a member of the “family” as she first worked with John, Susan and Hugh from 1986 – 1996 for George H Nelms Ltd., until the family business ceased. Theresa continued to work in the optical field, and added skills in fabrication of eyeglasses, and an understanding of how optical chain-stores are managed.

In 2008, Theresa joined Master Opticians and the original “family” was once again complete. Theresa is Master Opticians’ Optical Assistant, meaning, she is capable of every task put to her and steps in where needed.

Theresa enjoys the variety her work offers, from visual-field testing and appointment booking for the Doctor, to assisting clients with their eyeglasses needs.

The youngest of ten children, Theresa was born and raised in Peterborough. She and her husband, Ken, still reside in Peterborough. They have two boys, and enjoy cottage time and family.

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