OBITUARY: John Cameron, founder of the Atholl Country Life Museum

© DC ThomsonJohn Cameron at Atholl Country Life Museum in 2016.
John Cameron at Atholl Country Life Museum in 2016.

Retired farmer John Cameron, described as a “guardian of local history”, has died at his home in Blair Atholl.

In 1982, John founded the Atholl Country Life Museum, a unique collection of artefacts, information and photographs celebrating the area’s rich cultural heritage.

It began as a way to display a fine selection of farming memorabilia and horse harnesses that he had built up over the years.

The museum went from strength to strength under the stewardship of John and his wife Janet.

He retired after more than three decades in charge in 2013, but continued to be heavily involved with the museum.

© DC Thomson
John Cameron at the Atholl Country Life Museum in 2016.

A spokesman for the museum led the tributes.”We are devastated to have to announce the sad news that John Cameron, founder of, and inspiration behind, the museum died on Saturday January 26,” he said.

“Without John, the Atholl Country Life Museum would not exist.

“He had remained interested and relatively active during our last season.”

The spokesman added: “Our thoughts are with sons Peter, Rory, Alistair and Donald and John’s grandchildren.

“How tragic to lose their father so soon after the death of their mother Janet in late November.

“We hope to be able to build on John’s solid foundations and do the museum the sort of justice that would be the best possible credit to John and Janet’s memory.”

The building the museum now occupies was once a school, where John was a pupil. It closed its doors in 1974 and stood empty for seven years, until the Duke of Atholl made it available to house the large number of artefacts and images relating to the social history of Atholl.

Many of the items belonged to John’s family, who had lived in the area since the 18th Century.

In the years before his retirement, much was done to secure the museum’s future, not least the achievement of Scottish Charitable Status.

In 2010, the centre was also given accreditation status from Museum Galleries Scotland after proving its high standards of management and care.

Speaking to The Courier at the time of his retirement, Mr Cameron said: “I used to collect farm memorabilia, but when I was given some nice sets of horse harnesses by my parents I decided that I was gathering a collection that should really go on display in the village.”

He said: “It has remained quite a personal museum, telling the story of the people that lived and worked in this community over the years, and it that it is quite unique.”

Mr Cameron will be laid to rest at Kilmaveonaig Cemetery, following a service at Blair Atholl Church on Monday, February 4.