Ralph Wallace Burton (1905-1983) was born in Newington, Ontario in 1905. He studied in Ottawa from 1923 to 1924 and attended the Banff School of Fine Art under A.Y. Jackson in the 1940s. The two artists became long time sketching companions, undertaking trips to the Rockies, the Yukon, the Gatineau Hills and in Quebec over a twenty year period. Because of his relationship with Jackson and his acquisition of some of the stylization of Jackson, he is sometimes referred to as "the poor man's Jackson".
During World War II, Burton enlisted in the RCAF and worked in Ottawa as an administrative war art officer.
Burton was widely regarded in the Ottawa region as a skilled art teacher as well as an artist. Despite a successful art career, he often had to juggle jobs to support his family and even used his paintings to barter for goods and services.
Burton produced numerous sketches and paintings over his lifetime, with many of his finest executed in oil on birch plywood panels. Often referred to as a plein air artist with a focus on natural Canadian landscapes, Burton also enjoyed rendering city scapes and capturing the play of colour, form and light of exterior structures. He is most well known for his series about Lebreton Flats in Ottawa. The 1960's saw much land in this west end, working class neighbourhood expropriated by the Federal government and slated for demolition and urban renewal. The politicians of the day referred to the area as a 'slum' to be eradicated from an otherwise blossoming city. Burton saw the area as a vibrant and hard-working neighbourhood that many people called home.He produced a series of small oil sketches that document the final months of Lebreton Flats.
Lanark County, Ontario 10.5 x 13.5 in. Oil on board