|Air Photo Study|
May 9, 1835 - April 6, 1925
|If there is one special person in the history of Ottawa East, then it
must be James Ballantyne - a true "Renaissance man". Of slight
stature, quiet in disposition and brilliant of mind, James was the man who
led Ottawa East from a motley collection of homes and businesses to a thriving
successful village. His story is fascinating.
Born in Newcastleton, Scotland on May 9, 1835, he immigrated to Canada
with his family
at the age of five. First settling in Smith Falls, he later moved to Ottawa
in 1863 to establish a cooperage (barrel-making) business with his brother
Thomas. They later moved to Ottawa East in the 1870's to start a fuel
supply business on Echo Drive. From that point until his death in 1926
he became an integral part of the community. There is much more to the
story of the Ballantyne family, written by his grand nephew Bruce Ballantyne
|During his time in the community, he established the first
schools; became the first village reeve (later the treasurer); was elected
to County Council; incorporated the Ottawa East Water Company; built the
town hall; founded the Ottawa Camera Club; helped establish the Ottawa Literary
and Scientific Society (later the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club) and much,
Above all else he left he left an enduring legacy. In 1892 he donated
the oldest artifact ever found in Ottawa East to the Geological Survey
of Canada (more on that story
here). When his daughter Mae died (see obituary here)
just a few years after his passing, the family had his home demolished
at 54 Main St. and the land donated to the community. We now know it as
Ballantyne Park. But above all else he left a special visual gift for
the future residents of the community.
|As a photographer James was a visionary. He knew that the
most important pictures were not of politicians or marble buildings, but
rather of people, landscapes and everyday activities. From about 1890, usually
with the help of his daughter Mae, he regularly set out with his large box
camera and tripod to record the daily life of the village. He captured moments
of ordinary life that most considered to be of no importance. These pictures
have now become treasures. Mrs. Harvey's cows, Purdy and the boys leaning
against his fence, road construction on Main St., haying on Lees' farm,
playing cards at Wildwood and boating on the canal - all glimpses of a life
Thanks to the care of his descendents the "James Ballantyne Photographic Collection" was preserved and donated to the National Archives of Canada in 1981. Partly as a result of this history project the archives have placed the entire collection online for all to see.
James Ballantyne left a 'gift of time' to the people of Ottawa East.
As such, it is the single most-important contribution to this project.
For that we thank him and honour his memory.
|Editor's Note: James Ballantynes obituary is reproduced here.|
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