Local photographer dazzles Bulletin readers with her photographs of Aylmer
Christine Payant was the first to win the Aylmer Bulletin’s weekly photo contest, launched earlier this year in February. Her winning submission, entitled “Heritage homes on a snowy day”, depicts a lusciously snowy rue Principale in January 2018. The Castel Blanc heritage home (located at 43 rue Principale) stands prominently in the frame. The most eye-catching feature, however, is the street. Parallel tracks of white snow and grey asphalt, where tires meet snow, guide the eye like a conveyor belt toward a distant oncoming car. Payant has since submitted numerous winning photographs, each of iconic Aylmer landscapes: the Aylmer Marina, Queen’s Park, and the Ottawa River in its various seasonal permutations.
Payant, 64, was born across the river in Nepean. At the age of eight, her parents divorced and the family of seven split apart. Two of the five kids went to live with their father and two moved on. Christine, the youngest sibling, and her mother, Yvonne Bourgeau, moved to Aylmer. At the time, Yvonne was working as an administrator at Fenn-Graphic, a publishing house based in the Ottawa Valley, and making $1 per hour—a modest wage, even for 1967. Recently divorced and tight on money, Yvonne turned to her parents. Mother and daughter moved into the home where Yvonne grew up at 74 rue Centre (now Denise-Friend). “It was an old farmhouse,” with “bare-bones amenities,” remembered Payant. “No heat and no hot water. We bathed in a metal tub in the shed that we filled with warm water from the stove top.” Less than a year later, Yvonne fell in love with a man named Roger Hubert. Soon the couple were married and Yvonne and Christine moved in with Roger and his two daughters at their home on rue Parker. Yvonne, now 89 and a widow, continues to live there.
Christine Payant stands with her mother, Yvonne Bourgeau, in the latter’s home on rue Parker. Two cut-outs from the Aylmer Bulletin’s weekly photo contest are pinned to the fridge behind them. September 5, 2023. Photo: Alana Repstock.
Christine’s introduction to photography coincided with Fenn-Graphic starting a newspaper in Aylmer—the now-defunct and short-lived Aylmer Sun. Yvonne was transferred to the Sun to work as a typesetter and translator. There, Christine made the acquaintance of a young photojournalist, named Catherine Kubrac. “She was my idol,” said Payant. “I’d see her on her 10-speed bike chasing stories around Aylmer, and I thought she was so cool. My dream was to become a photojournalist like her.” By 16, Christine had scrimped and saved enough money by working various part-time jobs to buy her first camera, a Minolta XG-1. She photographed friends and scenes around Aylmer, but her dream of becoming a photojournalist fell by the wayside when she got a job with the federal government as a typist. Thirty-eight years later, Christine retired as the Director General of Enterprise Projects and Information Technology at Shared Services Canada.
For the past 24 years, Payant has resided in Buckingham with her spouse. Now retired, she has returned to her passion for photography. Payant’s images have been featured in National Geographic “Your Shot”, Cottage Life Magazine, and the Aylmer Bulletin. In July, Payant exhibited a series of macro-photographs (extreme closeups) of flowers refracted through water droplets at the Café des artistes de la Lièvre in Buckingham.
Some of the photos Payant has submitted to the Aylmer Bulletin’s weekly photo contest. Photo: Christine Payant.
Payant returns to Aylmer weekly to visit her mom. They eat supper, and often set off around town to take photos; or, in Yvonne’s case, “sit on a rock and watch”. Yvonne is a champion of Payant’s photography. “I know that by the time I walk in the door, the photo is already cut and set aside for me.”
Find Christine Payant on Instagram @ChrisPayant
Featured photo caption: Christine Payant’s first winning submission to the Aylmer Bulletin’s weekly photo contest: “Heritage homes on a snowy day”. January 2018.
Photo credit: Christine Payant