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Harold Ballard Jr.: Scion of notable sports character and artist (5 photos)

Caught between a great inheritance in the sports world and an artistic career, he chose the latter and makes his life - and his art - in our region

Harold Ballard Jr., son of the late owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is very self-deprecating, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t astute or insightful.

He trained at OCAD in fine arts. Caught between a great inheritance in the sports world and an artistic career, he chose to lay bricks and paint.

If your rural roots are in Tiny, you will know the Lookout as it commands a view of Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and the whole of Nottawasaga Bay. Natives, it is said, used it to watch for enemies.

It’s the height of land and here is his studio at the back of the house. Light is the theme and the gradations during the unfolding summer days are astonishing.

He talks knowledgeably about art history and the work of Seurat, who was not just a painter, but a colourist as well. According to the lore, many of the impressionists came to Seurat to have their colours ground, states Hal.

Painting is grounded in colour or its absence.

Many of his paintings are unsigned. The minimal use of colour, brush and line is reminiscent of Chinese brushwork, emptiness predominant. The signature unnecessary. I pressed him to sign the one shown.

He knows the vanity of writers and patiently endured my entreaties. Li Po, it is said, sat by the Yellow River writing poems and throwing them into the passing current. I think Hal was trying to tell me something.

The shot above shows Hal striking his best bad boy pose. Dylan Thomas says, “Do not go gently into that good night, but rage, rage, against the dying of the light.” Or something like that. Tiny Township is filled with artists and renegades and not all from the City.

Sure, Hal grew up in the west end of Toronto, but home was Thunder Beach, and Tiny Township.

Everybody knew everybody and MacNamaras were a big presence at the Beach. The Church, school, baseball diamond and a raft of other gifts for the local kids of Lafontaine and the area were donated by George Sr., a Penetang boy made good in the dredging business, said Hal.

The  community was a patchwork of nationalities, all happily jumbled together.

Hal’s Dad had his place on the water, however, the old Anchor Villa was Harold’s for a time until Jeff Holden built him a place at the Lookout.

All timber-framed construction, the view is out to the bay and southward. Glorious. The studio is bright, airy and heated for even the coldest day. Paintings, sketches, brushes and easels fill the space and it seems the ideal place to be for the work of an artist.