When the Duke of Wellington’s army faced off against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, one of the casualties was a Scott, James Ainslie. He was hit in the head with a sabre and severely wounded, but managed to survive.
Ten years later it was 1825 and James Ainslie was on the outskirts of Canberra. His employer Robert Campbell had tasked him with finding good grazing land for 700 of his sheep. With the help of local Aboriginies, he reached the Limestone Plains and applied for a grant to farm the land. When this was received, he named the land Duntroon Station after his family castle in Scotland.
In twelve years, James Ainslie had increased the size of the sheep flock from 700 to 20,000. Duntroon Station extended from Duntroon all the way to today’s Glebe Park. Quite the scandal was his living with a local Aboriginal woman, and having a daughter with her who they named Nanny. He headed back to Scotland in 1835, where he promptly disappeared from the pages of history.
By 1833, Robert Campbell had built a one storey stone house with wide verandahs and a large two-storey extension was added by his son George in 1862.
‘Duntroon House’ became the centre around which revolved the life of the many employees of Duntroon Station – the manager, servants, stockmen, gardeners, carpenters, horsebreakers, shoemakers, masons, brick makers, tailors and tenant farmers.
Today Duntroon House is the Officer’s Mess of Canberra’s Royal Military College. The building is an awesome example of colonial architecture and one of the oldest buildings in Canberra.
Blundell’s Cottage, St John the Baptist Church, and Yarralumla House were all built by either Robert Campbell or his family.
The suburbs of Ainslie and Mount Ainslie are named after James Ainslie, and the suburb of Campbell is named after Robert Campbell.
And as an amusing bit of trivia – the two metal sheep relaxing in Civic are a tribute to the work of James Ainslie.