James Farrand Ruttan began his career at the Ottawa post office, followed by a brief period of railway construction in Lindsey and a job at the Toronto law firm of Osler & Hammond. Ruttan ventured west in the early 1880s, following the Winnipeg land boom. He opened a real estate office in Port Arthur in March 1882 and moved to the area permanently in early 1883.
Ruttan became the McVicar family’s real estate agent and handled all sales of their widespread properties, including the sale of their property east of McVicar’s Creek, where the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was forced to build their first station in Port Arthur. The difficulties that arose between the CPR and the McVicars soon became Ruttan’s. He was identified as being a public opponent of the CPR. And in 1889, at the time of the train caputure due to upaid taxes, he was serving as a member of Thomas Gorham's Council, which did not help.
With a few years' experience as Councillor, Ruttan ran for Mayor and was elected in 1891. During his tenure, Ruttan saw the construction of the electric street railway; however, this project resulted in a large debt, the responsibility for which was attached to Ruttan in the public's eye.
Ruttan was made Crown Lands agent for the Thunder Bay District in May 1889, a position he held until he was replaced by W. H. Hesson in July 1903. When the economy began to improve during the late 1890s, Ruttan sold 16 of the McVicar estate lots in Fort William and 300 lots along the southern waterfront. In May 1901, an out-of-court settlement with the CPR was finally reached in regards to the McVicar family properties.
Ruttan died of pneumonia in 1904 and left his business to his brothers. Both Farrand and Ruttan Streets were named in his honour.
Born: March 10, 1850 in Cobourg, Northumberland County, Ontario
Died: Jan. 21, 1904 in Port Arthur, Ontario at the age of 53
Councillor: 1884, 1888-1889
Mayoral Candidate: 1893
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