John Philip Barron was the most prolific of Sarnia’s early photographers.
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland on Jan. 7, 1842 to William Barron Jr. and Annie Lumsden, he emigrated with his family two years later to Canada, settling in St. Mary’s, Ont.
Barron’s first occupation was as a cooper, making barrels. He married his first wife, Catherine Robinson, in St. Mary’s at the age of 20 and they had three daughters: Jennie, Annie and Ellen.
In 1866, John and Catherine moved to Sarnia where he began his photographic career, either in 1866 or 1868.
Barron’s studio was on Front Street, above Daniel McCart’s store, until moving to rooms above the store of Alexander Leys in 1869. That same year he entered into partnership with Thomas Challoner, remaining a partner until May 1870.
John Barron briefly entered into partnership with his brothers James and William sometime after 1871. Shortly thereafter, William operated a studio here but by 1874 he had moved across the river to Port Huron, MI, where he operated a studio for many years.
James moved to London and continued with photography, eventually becoming a music teacher in that city’s public schools.
When Barron’s wife died in 1876 he remarried a woman named Annie Whitmarsh in Wallaceburg and together they had three more daughters: Dell, Annie and Hazel.
By 1879 it appears that Barron was in partnership with James Walker. The studio moved across the street to No. 4 of the Durand Block and they remained partners until 1884.
By then, Barron had begun selling sheet music and musical instruments as a sideline, and in 1898 he disposed of his photographic interests in favour of the music business.
He brought his daughter Hazel in to assist him, leaving her to run the business in 1911 when he and his wife moved to Seattle, WA, where he lived until his death on April 17, 1924.
Five month later, John Barron was buried in Sarnia’s Lakeview Cemetery.
John Rochon is a Sarnian with a lifelong passion for local history