A.Y. Jackson

Alexander Young Jackson, CC CMG RCA LL. D.

Born in 1882 Montreal, Quebec
 / Died in 1974 Kleinburg, Ontario

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About the Artist

“The obedient in art are always the forgotten . . . The country is glorious but its beauties are unknown, and but waiting for a real live artist to splash them onto canvas . . . Chop your own path. Get off the car track.”
(A.Y. Jackson, Montreal, letter to Florence Clement, Berlin, Ontario, 5 March 1913).

A.Y. (Alexander Young) Jackson, a founding and leading member of the Group of Seven, was recognized during his lifetime for his contribution to the development of art in Canada. He travelled widely and painted full-time, primarily landscapes.

A native of Montreal, Jackson studied with William Brymner at the Art Association of Montreal, at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1906, and with Jean-Paul Laurens at the Académie Julien, Paris, in 1907. He painted in Europe frequently between 1906 and 1912. It was his painting The Edge of the Maple Wood (1910) that brought him to the attention of J.E.H. MacDonald and, when it was bought by Lawren Harris, Jackson visited Toronto and met other members of the future Group of Seven. Dr. James MacCallum, co-financier with Harris of Canada’s first purpose-built studio building, sponsored him for a year in 1914. Jackson lived and worked at the Studio Building in Toronto until 1955. He travelled in Canada throughout his career, sketching outdoors and painting in his Toronto studio.

Jackson’s father, an unsuccessful businessman, abandoned his family in 1891, and Jackson worked from the age of twelve at a Montreal lithography company. Having moved to Toronto, in 1914 he shared a studio with Tom Thomson and painted in Algonquin Park, producing The Red Maple that same year. During the First World War he joined the infantry, serving as a war artist in 1917-19. He exhibited with the Group of Seven from 1920 and played a key role in bringing the artists of Montreal and Toronto together. Jackson continued to play an influential role in Canadian art, and from 1943 to 1949 he taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts. Jackson resided in Manotick, near Ottawa, from 1955, but incapacitated in 1968 by a stroke, he moved to Kleinburg, Ontario, and lived there at the McMichael Collection from 1969.

– Courtesy the National Gallery of Canada


JACKSON, Alexander Young


Born in Montreal, Quebec, the third in a family of six children, his interest in art was stirred through the activities of his brother Harold, a lithographer. A.Y. Jackson attended the Prince Albert Public School in Montreal until he was 12; then he started work as an office boy for a lithographing company. He sketched during his free moments usually making copies of drawings from newspapers. Later his boss saw some of these drawings and placed him in the art department under Arthur Nantel.3 Nantel enriched Jackson’s education, particularly in literature. Jackson worked there for six years then got a job as a designer for a printing house owned by Sir Adam Beck; later, he worked with a photo-engraving house, then a lithographing firm where for the first time he was paid a decent salary. He attended the Monu­ment National four nights a week and visited occasionally the Art Gallery in Montreal. He also attended art classes under William Brymner.

At the age of 23 he worked his passage to Europe, with his brother Harry, on the cattle boat Devona. After a brief stop at London, they visited many museums in Paris and spent a short time with Clarence Gagnon and Eddie Boyd who had taken classes under William Brymner in Montreal. They returned to Montreal where Jackson spent some time at Hemmingford, Quebec, before going on to the U.S.A. where he studied at The Art Institute of Chicago, nights, while working with a firm of designers in the day­time. At the Institute he studied under Clute and Richardson and by 1907 he had earned enough money from his day work to study in Paris. He arrived there in September and enrolled in the Académie Julian where he studied under Jean Paul Laurens for six months then he travelled to Italy with others where they visited galleries in Rome, Florence and Venice. They returned to France and Jackson painted a canvas at Etaples which was hung in the Paris Salon. Later he went to the village of Episy with a fellow student named Porter with whom he had lived in Paris. Jackson found much to paint at Episy: old farms, rolling country, the canal where barges were towed by mules, and for the first time (in France) he lived with people close to the land. In his autobiography (page 11 and 12) he gives an interesting account of the Goixs, the farmers with whom he stayed. He left France when his funds were low and returned to Canada in 1910 where the ‘clear crisp air and sharp shadows’ of Sweetsburg, Quebec, became the subject of his canvas “Edge of the Maple Wood”.

During this period Jackson’s paintings were in the tradition of the French Impressionists; he was influenced particularly by the work of Sisley and Pissarro. In his canvas “Edge of the Maple Wood” although impressio­nistic in approach, he managed to impart an atmosphere of the pioneer in the New World, not commonly found in the landscapes of France. Then the work of Canadian artists Cullen and Morrice led him further in the discoveries of snow and other ele­ments of Canadian subject matter which were to become an integral part of his work throughout his life.

He worked again at photo-engraving and saved enough money to return to France with Albert Robinson in 1911. They visited St. Malo and Carhaix in Brittany where they sketched and during this period Jackson learned much from Robinson. In December of that year Robinson returned to Canada and Jackson stayed on in France at Carhaix where he spent the winter. It rained con­tinually and he went sketching in wooden shoes. In the spring he went to Paris with an Australian painter Baker-Clack and later stayed with the painter and his wife at Etaples where they painted on the sand dunes. Jackson then visited Leeds in England where he painted several canvases before travelling to Venice and Fiume in Italy. He returned to Montreal where he exhibited jointly with Randolph Hewton at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Their exhibition was not a financial success. Canadian collectors were not interested in French Impressionism as they considered such paintings to be in the extreme. Dutch canvases were still thought to be a sound investment. Jackson however did sell some sketches through a Montreal art dealer not long afterwards.

Things looked more promising for Canadian artists in the United States and Jackson was beginning to think perhaps it was the only thing for him to do. Before making any definite decision he sketched with Hewton at Emileville, Quebec; one of his canvases which he almost scraped off, “Morning After Sleet”, was saved by Hewton who traded Jackson a clean canvas for it. Ten years later Hewton entered it in the Montreal Spring Show, on behalf of Jackson, where it won the Jessie Dow Prize and was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada the same year.

When Jackson was still at Emileville he received a letter from a J.E.H. MacDonald of Toronto who wanted to purchase his “Edge of The Maple Wood” on behalf of a third party, Lawren Harris. Jackson sold the picture and later met MacDonald when he stopped off at Toronto on his way to Berlin, Ontario. In Toronto he also met, through MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley and other members of the Arts and Letters Club who were employed by the Grip engraving company as commercial artists. After he reached Berlin, Lawren Harris went there to meet him. From Berlin Jackson went to Georgian Bay to sketch and was visited there by Dr. James MacCallum a friend of Lawren Harris. McCallum, who had a summer home at the Bay, offered Jackson a place to work in the Studio Building which MacCallum and Lawren Harris were having built for Canadian artists in Toronto. McCallum further guaranteed Jackson’s expenses for a year. In the meantime Jackson was invited to stay at MacCallum’s summer home, con­siderably more comfortable than the shack he was preparing for his autumn stay. Because of the fine weather, the additional comfort, Jackson’s production was good; he did many sketches and a number of canvases, one being the “Maple in the Pine Woods” which was later to bring a storm of criticism at a Group of Seven exhibi­tion, also studies for his large canvas “Terre Sauvage”.

On his return to Toronto Jackson stayed at Lawren Harris’ studio in Toronto until The Studio Building was completed. There one day he was introduced to Tom Thomson who had accom­panied Dr. MacCallum on a visit. Thomson was also an employee of the Grip Engraving Company. Later at Thomson’s boarding house, Jackson and Thomson talked over the idea of moving into The Studio Building. Thomson was less sure of the move than Jackson because he was apprehensive of the idea of making a living from something that he loved to do mainly as a pastime. They decided to accept Dr. MacCallum’s offer and to share a studio in The Studio Building. They moved into their new surroundings in January of 1914 and during their first weeks, exchanged accounts of their experiences; Thomson of his camping trips to Algonquin Park and Jackson of his travels in Europe and the fine paintings he had seen. Thomson had soon inspired Jackson to visit Algonquin Park in February and March of 1914. Jackson scouted the area on snowshoes in twenty below zero. Later J.E.H. MacDonald and J.W. Beatty joined him for ten days during which time they sketched the country. In the summer of that year Jackson sketched with J.W. Beatty at the construction camps of the Canadian Northern Railway in Western Canada. They had been commissioned by that company to produce pictures useful for advertising purposes. Sometime after they had completed the work the railway company went bankrupt and the sketches were never used. Jackson eventually destroyed them all one by one.

When he returned from this trip Jackson went directly to Algonquin Park where he joined Thomson. He noticed then the remark­able progress Thomson had made. They camped below Tea Lake Dam where Jackson made the preliminary sketch for his canvas “The Red Maple” (in NGC collection) Robert Ayre noted of this period, “When it was too cold to paint any longer, the two men packed up and returned to Toronto. The year guaranteed by MacCallum was up.

In the Spring of 1915, Jackson was back in Quebec, but, being unable to settle down because of the war, he enlisted as a private in the 60th Batallion. While with them, he was wounded and invalided to England. When he returned to the front, it was as a Lieutenant with the Canadian War Records. Late in 1918, he found himself home in Canada, with orders to get ready for Siberia. But the Armistice was declared and ‘the whole business flopped’. ‘All I got out of it,’ Jackson remarks, ‘was twenty tubes of white paint. It was probably this paint that was responsible for my becoming a snow painter as I had to find some use for it.'” Jackson was sent instead, to Halifax where he painted anything of war interest. He made the preliminary sketch for his large canvas “Olympic”; the war records had no funds left to purchase it so Jackson after a few years and finding it a nuisance in his studio destroyed it.

As a war artist he created one of the finest collections of war paintings our nation possesses. Thirty-three of these canvases which include the following titles, are in the National Gallery of Canada collection: “Vimy Ridge from Souchez Valley” (34″ x 44″), “Gas Attack, Lievin” (25″ x 30″), “Gun-pits, Lievin” (25″ x 30″), “Trenches Near Angres” (25″ x 30″), “Houses of Ypres” (25″ x 30″), and portraits of Pte. J.C. Kerr, V.C. (40″ x 30″), Lt. Robert Shankland, V.C. (41″ x 30¼”); Coy-Sgt-Major Robert Hanna, V.C. (40″ x 30″). Jackson was discharged from the Army in April of 1919 and returned to Toronto. His “Terre Sauvage” was exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy show in Montreal and became the subject of controversey. In the autumn of 1919 he went to Algoma with J.E.H. MacDonald, Lawren Harris and Franz Johnston. Writing of this exper­ience in Canadian Art he related, “It was good to get back to the Georgian Bay again, to paddle and swim and go fishing and exploring. I had little desire to paint.

In the autumn Harris had arranged a sketching party in Algoma and had a box car fitted up with bunks and a stove. Along with the canoe we had a three-wheel jigger worked by hand to go up and down the tracks. There were few trains on the Algoma Central Railway at that time. Our car was hitched to the passenger train or the way freight and left on a siding. The only inhabitants were the section men. The box car became a studio. There was Harris, MacDonald, Frank Johnston and myself. The railroad runs north for two hundred miles from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst on the CNR crossing the CPR at Franz. It is a heavily wooded country, birch and maple, poplar, spruce and white pine, a country of big hills that drop steeply to Lake Superior, The rivers cut through them and romp down in a series of rapids and waterfalls to the Lake. In October it is a blaze of colour. . . . The nights were frosty, but in the box car with the fire in the stove we were snug and warm and discussions and arguments would last until late in the night – from Plato to Picasso, from Madame Blavatsky to Mary Baker Eddy – between Harris, a Baptist and later a Theosophist, and MacDonald, a Presbyterian interested in Christian Science. Outside the aurora would be playing antics in the sky and the murmur of the rapids or a distant waterfall with the silence of the night. Every few days we would have our box car moved to another siding.” During that year Jackson became a full member of the Royal Canadian Academy. The following year he went to Georgian Bay and travelled by snowshoe from Penetang to Franceville where he made many sketches. He ran short of panels and used the reverse side of those he had painted on.

On May 7th, 1920 the first exhibition of the Group of Seven opened at the Art Gallery of Toronto. The manifesto of the Group was presented in a foreword to the catalogue and had been written by Lawren Harris. The Group had been formed earlier by Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, Frank Carmichael, Frank H. Johnston, F.H. Varley and A.Y. Jackson. Thomson had been drowned in Canoe Lake in 1917 or he would have certainly been amongst the original members (probably they would have been known as the Group of Eight). Contributing to the Group’s exhibition were three guest exhibitors from Montreal, Randolph Hewton, Robert Pilot and Albert Robinson; the exhibition was received with great controversy. It was in this first exhibition that Jackson exhibited his “Terre Sauvage”. The Group continued to exhibit until 1931.

Each exhibition of the Group was met with great protest. Jackson explained this period as follows, “One Toronto critic protested that ‘The Group which elects to present in exaggerated terms the crudest and most sinister aspects of the Canadian wilds has triumphed over those of more suave and poetic impulse.’ Of course, it is a majestic sweep of country; rocky headlands pushing into the lake and big islands lying off shore like sleeping giants. But Canadians are inclined to regard everything from an economic standpoint, and this country made poor publicity and so they wailed if this group keep on it is going to discourage immigration. To another critic our work was ‘A single, narrow, rigid formula of ugliness.’ ‘They are garish, they are loud, affected, freakish” to another writer. Editorials appeared about ‘Art Gone Mad.’ Others demanded ‘a return to sanity in Canadian Art.’ . . . At the time of the Wembley Exhibition the National Gallery of Canada – always good friends of the Group – had, despite the protests of the Royal Canadian Academy, included a number of our paintings in the Canadian exhibit. We were warned that the British would be shocked. On the contrary, the Press notices were the most favourable we had ever known. To quote the Morning Post . . . These paintings by Thomson, Morrice, MacDonald, Casson, Lismer, and others are the foundation of what may become one of the greatest schools of landscape painting. In their pictures are signs of new vision and feeling for the physical and spiritual significance of Nature.'”

The Wembley exhibition had taken place in 1924 in north­west London. Jackson was represented by “Entrance To Halifax Harbour”. This canvas was purchased by the Tate Gallery, London, and the news was carried in many papers including the Barrie (Ont.), Observer with the heading, “A.Y. Jackson The Canadian Artist Mounts To Fame”, then the report began, “Ottawa, Oct. 24 – An announcement from Wembley states that the National Gallery of British Art, better known as the Tate Gallery, has purchased A.Y. Jackson’s picture ‘Halifax Harbor’ for its permanent collection. ‘This is the greatest honor a contem­porary painter can achieve in England, and one which is greatly coveted’ comments the National Gallery of Canada in a statement issued this morning. Mr. Jackson is the only living Canadian artist to be represented in the British national collection, J.W. Morrice, who was represented there, having died recently.” The Toronto Star headed “Once Painted Designs On Tomato Can Labels” and the report began, “The purchase, by the British National Gallery, of A.T. (sic) Jackson’s canvas, ‘Entrance to Halifax Harbor,’ marks a triumph in general for Canadian art, and, in particular for The Group of Seven, of which Mr. Jackson is a member. . . . When interviewed by The Star in his studio, Mr. Jackson was inclined to make light of this fresh addition to his laurels. ‘In a few years from now,’ said he, ‘for a Canadian to sell a picture to the National Gallery will not be an event.'”

Hector Charlesworth, music and drama critic of the Saturday Night one of Jackson’s severest critics wrote, “A notable compliment has been conferred on Canadian Art by the purchase for the Tate Gallery, London, one of the famous national collections of Great Britain of a picture by the Canadian painter A.Y. Jackson. It is a medium-sized work. . . . Mr. Jackson has had a distinguished career and has latterly been identified with the modernist group of Toronto painters. The picture is not, however, one of the ‘Georgian Bay’ cartoons, but a product of Mr. Jackson’s experience as one of the official artists of the Canadian War Memorials Collection. It shows Halifax Harbor from Herring Cove as it was in war-time with camouflaged ships hovering in a grey mist. . . . While he sometimes paints in the harsh formula of the Toronto modernists, he is very gifted in other styles and his flower piece ‘Gentians’ exhibited at the O.S.A. last year was one of the most delicate and beautiful achievements in still life that has been seen of recent years.”

In July of 1927 Jackson and Dr. Frederick Banting went north on the steamer Beothic which had been chartered by the Canadian Government from the Job Shipping Company of Newfoundland to deliver supplies to the R.C.M.P. posts and to carry relief constables to the posts. They sketched at Godhavn, Greenland; Pond Inlet (south Bylot Island); Devon Island; Etach; Bache Peninsula (Ellesmere Island), where he made a sketch of the Beothic and later made a large canvas based on the sketch. The canvas was presented to the Department of the Interior who in turn presented it to the National Gallery of Canada in 1930), Melville Island; Port Leopold on Somerset Island; Arctic Bay; Pond Inlet; Pangnirtung where they picked up two geologists Dr. Weeks and his assistant Maurice Haycock (later Ph.D.); Lake Harbour; Wakeham Bay and Port Burwell (see A Painter’s Country pages 95 to 104). His Arctic sketches were exhibited at the Art Gallery of Toronto when The Toronto Star noted, “The sketches, both color and pen and ink, are all landscapes and contain many delicate tintings such as are seldom seen down here, especially in the grass country.” Four of these pen and ink sketches of the Arctic appear in Paul Duval’s Group Of Seven Drawings; one appears in The Group of Seven by Thoreau Mac­Donald, Page 29.

Jackson took a second Arctic trip on the Beothic with Lawren Harris in 1930 (see A painter’s Country, Pages 105 to 113). An amusing incident occurred during this journey when Harris, who had stocked up on Roman Meal, suddenly discovered that they were out of the cereal. Captain Falke, skipper of the ship, and Inspector Joy of the R.C.M.P. were both taking it and claimed they felt better. They received Harris’ discovery with a sense of tragedy and began to feel listless. When the ship arrived at Chesterfield on Hudson Bay, Harris went to the Hudson’s Bay store where the clerk told him he didn’t have any Roman Meal. Harris spotted four packages of it on a high shelf. He bought the lot (which lasted them the rest of the voyage). The store clerk told Harris he had only been in the store for six years so the cereal must have been stocked before his time. When they returned home an exhibition of their Arctic sketches took place at the National Gallery of Canada later that year. Jackson exhibited 37 sketches in the show which was noted by The Ottawa Journal as follows, “The officials of the Northwest Territories Branch expressed great satisfaction with many of the pictures and were of the opinion that in many cases they gave a realistic interpretation of the peculiar color effects and grandeur of the far north. In their own particular medium the two artists interpret in some instances the real atmosphere of the north. Striking contrasts in color, bold decorative lines and vivid imagination make particular sketches stand out as unusual pieces of work.”

The exhibition was also shown at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (January, 1931) and the Art Gallery of Toronto (May, 1931). A.Y. Jackson resigned from the Royal Canadian Academy in 1932 as a protest to the Academy’s unsympathetic view to the younger artists.28 His decision was also due to the action of the Academy (its executive) to decry the National Gallery of Canada over the Wembley exhibition of 1924. Also the policies of the executive when it continued to cling to the rigid traditionalism in the succeeding years (the Academy has long since been a liberal society).

In 1933 the remaining original members of the Group of Seven decided that they should disband. Johnston had left the Group in 1922; MacDonald had died in 1932 (in the latter years of his life heavy responsi­bilities had robbed him of the time to paint); Lismer had become involved in the important mission of teaching; Carmichael was teaching at the Ontario College of Art; Casson who had replaced Johnston, was involved in improving the graphic arts. Fitzgerald and Holgate had just become members, but the impetus and feeling of initial discovery of the land was ebbing out. Varley had turned from landscape to por­trait. Harris and Jackson were the only original members that were relatively free.

A new group, The Canadian Group of Painters, was formed in 1933; it included a mem­bership of over forty. Jackson was a founding member of this group. In the following years A.Y. Jackson continued to travel to virtually every corner of our nation: 1928 to Great Slave Lake (N.W.T.) with Macintosh Bell, Dr. Frederick Banting and C.B. Dawson also Walsh Lake; 1930 Saint Fidele with Banting as well as in the Arctic; 1932 Les Eboulements (Que.) also Cobalt (Ont.); 1933 Grace Lake (Ont.) near Espanola; La Cloche Hills (Ont.); 1934 St. Urbain (Que.) and back to Grace Lake; 1935 to St. Fabien (Que.); 1936 to Fox River (Gaspe, Que.); 1937 to Alberta where there were beautiful backgrounds but the foregrounds posed problems with small brush or weeds – he once painted a foreground with a formation of loose wire from a fence and a rancher seeing the sketch implied that he should carry a pair of wire cutters to make things easier; 1938 Great Bear Lake; 1939 back to Grace Lake and La Cloche Hills; 1940 St. Aubert (Que.), Grace Lake, La Cloche Hills; 1941 St. Tite des Caps (Que.); 1942 St. Aubert (Que.), Sainte Louise, St. Pierre (Que.); 1943 St. Aubert (Que.), Western Canada and the Alaska Highway; 1944 St. Aubert (Que.), Cariboo (B.C.); 1946 St. Tite des Caps (Que.); 1947 La Malbaie, Port-au-Persil, Pincher Creek (Alta.); 1948 Gatineau River (Que.); 1949 Gatineau River (Que.), Great Bear and Yellowknife (N.W.T.); 1950 Gatineau River (Que.), Port Radium (N.W.T.), Barren Lands (N.W.T.); Pincher Creek (Alta.); 1951 Gatineau River (Que.); Barren Lands (N.W.T.), Yellowknife (N.W.T.); 1952 Red Lake (near Kenora, Ont.), Newfoundland, Georgian Bay (Ont.). He roamed the Quebec countryside in winter and was affectionately called “Pere Raquette”.

Robert Ayre in 1937 noted, “Marius Barbeau in his book ‘The Kingdom of Saguenay,’ regards the name as a symbol. ‘It characterizes the man of the country who moves slowly but surely over the snow, and for whom the snowshoe is not an article of sport, but a necessity. A man of this type is well planted, is sure of eye and foot, like a hunter tracking the deer, or a woodsman who, in the spring, runs the maple and makes sugar. In descend­ing a hill, if he cannot follow the skier from the city, at least he climbs the slope more easily, jumps the fences and finds himself unhampered in the underbrush. And the painter using snowshoes can station himself comfortably while he sketches a landscape.'” Ayre pointed out that it wasn’t because Jackson was not fond of swift slopes that he didn’t go by skies but that he didn’t want his painting to become secondary to the sport of descending the slopes.

During his career A.Y. Jackson did all the illustrations for the following books: Chez nous by Adjutor Rivard, McClelland & Stewart, Tor., 1924 (11 ill.); The Far North which he also was the author, Rous & Mann. Tor., 1927 (11 drawings with introduction by F.G. Banting – descriptive notes by Jackson); The St. Lawrence by Henry Beston, Farrar & Rinehart, NYC & Tor., 1942 (27 ill’s incl. jacket & end papers); A Painter’s Country his autobiography, Clarke, Irwin, Tor., 1958, (12 ill.) reprinted 1963, later issued in paperback also a deluxe hardbound edition. His work has appeared in many more books, see footnote. It was due to his untiring effort that he organized and carried through a plan to reproduce paintings and to encourage many artists to work for the simple process of silk-screen techniques. Scores of paintings and designs were reproduced during the Second World War for the decoration of armed forces camps and hostels. Today these silk screens can be seen in banks, businesses, and educa­tional institutions throughout Canada. A large exhibition of his paintings took place at the Art Gallery of Toronto and the National Gallery of Canada in 1953. A thirty two page catalogue was written by Arthur Lismer with 14 black reproductions of Jackson’s work.

A.Y. Jackson had his headquarters in The Studio Building, Toronto until 1955 when he moved to Manotick. Weekend Magazine on the eve of his departure featured a photostory by Jock Carroll in which he noted, “The Studio Building is a three-storey glass-and-brick structure standing almost in the heart of metropolitan Toronto, on the edge of a valley in Ramsden Park. It was erected . . . . At a cost of $21,000. . . . It consisted of six enormous studios, two to a floor, and the original occupants were: Studio One, Tom Thomson and A.Y. Jackson; Studio Two, Lawren Harris; Studio Three, Arthur Heming; Studio Four, J.W. Beatty; Studio Five, Curtis Williamson; Studio Six, J.E.H. MacDonald. . . . Jackson’s last days at his Toronto studio were filled with parties in his honor, and leave-takings from a host of friends who associated him and the Studio Building, with its famous ‘Shack,’ as inseparable landmarks on the art scene. There was a feeling, too, that here was the breaking of the last link, the closing of a door on the first great important movement in Canadian Art.” I

n his autobiography Jackson explained that he had become familiar with the Gatineau north of Ottawa where he had sketched with Ralph Burton and Maurice Haycock and had found ideal country full of lakes, rivers, old settlements. Dr. Haycock had given him good reports of a piece of land at Manotick where he built a studio and he was close to his niece Dr. Naomi Jackson Groves who lived there. He therefore had few regrets when he departed from The Studio Building (see A Painter’s Country, Page 158). Later he lived in Ottawa for several years before moving to the McMichael Conservation estate at Kleinburg where he lived out his final years before spending a short period in a nursing home in Kleinburg where he died in his 91st year. He had been just as active at 85 as he had been all his life. He travelled to Baffin Island in 1965 with 13 explorers and geographer P.D. Baird (now Director of the New Science Museum, Ottawa); he gave numerous talks, attended exhibitions, but most of all sketched in the surrounding country.

In January of 1967 Major F.R. Wode­house, Curator of the National Gallery of Canada War Collection, delivered an address at the Gallery in honour of A.Y. Jackson and on his work in the War Memorials Col­lection. During his lifetime Jackson received numerous honours including the following: LL.D., Queen’s University, 1941; C.M.G. 1946; National Award for Art from the University of Alberta, 1951; LL.D. McMaster University, 1953; LL.D. Carleton University, 1957, and numerous other awards. He is represented in numer­ous collections including the following: Art Gallery of Toronto; Arts Club, Montreal; Wellington Gallery, New Zealand; Edmonton Museum of Arts; Essex Country San­atorium, Windsor; Art Gallery of Hamilton; Hart House, University of Toronto; International Business Machines Corp.; Women’s Art Association, Kitchener; Lenin­grad Art Gallery, U.S.S.R.; London Public Library and Art Museum, Ont.; Long Branch School; Baron Byng High School, Montreal; Dunroe Gardens Home and School Assoc., Mtl.; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; National Gallery of Canada (R.C.A. Diploma Coll., General Collection, War Collection); Northern Transporta­tion Company, Edmonton, Alta.; Department of Resources and Development, Ottawa; Pickering College, Newmarket, Ont.; Musée de la Province de Quebec; Women’s Art Conservation Society of Sarnia, Ont.; University of Saskatchewan; Seagram Collection; Tate Gallery, London, England; East York Collegiate, Tor.; Western Technical School, Tor.; Upper Canada College, Tor.; Vancouver Art Gallery; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Victoria University, Tor.; University of Toronto (Women’s Union); The McMichael Conservation Collection, Kleinburg, Ont.; and in the follow­ing private collections: J.G. Althouse (Tor.); C.S. Band (Tor.); W.M. Benidickson (Kenora, Ont.); W.J. Bennett (Ott.); Mrs. Geo. Bertram (Tor.); Prof André Biéler (Kingston); the late Albert Cloutier (Mtl.); R.A. Daly (Tor.); Mrs. H.P. De Pencier (Owen Sound); Peter Dobush (Mtl.); Mr. & Mrs. Harry Donald (Oshawa); R.E. Dowsett (Tor.); Mrs. H.A. Dyde (Edmonton); H. Forbes Hale (Mtl.); Mr. & Mrs. S.B. Hamilton (Tor.); Mrs. Lawren Harris (Van.); Mrs. A.R.G. Heward (Mtl.); Brian Heward (Mtl.); the late Randolph S. Hewton (Trenton, Ont.); P.R. Preston Hilborn; Mrs. H.R. Jackman (Tor.); E.S. Jackson (Lethbridge, Alta.); Mrs. H.A.C. Jackson (Mtl.); Mrs. W. H. Jackson (Mtl. W.); Dr. Fred W. Jeffrey (Ott.); F. T. Jenkins (Ott.); D. H. W. Kirkwood (Paris, Ont.); Gilbert Labine; John A. MacAuley (Winnipeg); R. McCall (Lachute, P.Q.); Dr. J. R. McCrimmon (Pincher Creek, Alta.); the late Dr. H. O. McCurry (Ottawa); the late The Rt. Hon. Malcolm MacDonald; Mr. & Mrs. D. W. McGibbon (Tor.); Miss Isabel McLaughlin (Tor.); R. S. McLaughlin (Oshawa); J. S. McLean (Tor.); H. R. MacMillan (Van.); the late The Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey; Fred Mendel (Saskatoon, Sask.); Mr. Mitchell (Mtl.); Mrs. James Morris (Leamington, Ont.); Mrs. L. T. Newton (Mtl.); William Phillips (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.); George L. Robinson; Robt. E. K. Rourke (Kent, Conn., U.S.A.); Dr. & Mrs. C.S. Sanborn (Windsor, Ont.); Mrs. E.S. Sargeant (Tor.); Miss Anne Savage (Mtl.); Mrs. S.J. Shotton (Ont.); Russell S. Smart (Ott.); Mrs. C. Somerville (London, Ont.); Mrs. H.S. Southam (Ott.); Dr. Max Stern (Mtl.); Mrs. J. Frederick M. Stewart (Tor.); Walter Stewart; Arthur Terroux (Mtl.); Pat Thomson (Mtl.); J.J. Vaughan (Tor.); A.L. Washburn (Wilmette, Ill., U.S.A.); Miss Claire Watson (Mtl.); Mr. & Mrs. William R. Watson (Mtl.); Miss Esther Williams (Tor.); the late Col. H. Willis-O’Connor (Ottawa); N.D. Young (Tor.); Mr. & Mrs. Jules Loeb (Hull, Que.); and many others. He taught at the Ontario College of Art and the Banff Summer School of Fine Arts (1943-9). Member: Royal Canadian Academy (A.R.C.A. 1914 – R.C.A. 1919 – Resigned, 1933, reinstated 1953); Ontario Society of Artists (1915); Canadian Group of Painters (1933); Royal Society of Artists. Dr. A.Y. Jackson has been referred to as the Dean of Canadian Painters, but somehow he is something greater; the spirit of his canvas “The Red Maple” can be seen in our new national flag that flies over our beautiful land.

Colin S. MacDonald

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Studied at

Art classes under William Brymner
Art Institute of Chicago, under Clute and Richardson, 1905
Academie Julian, Paris, under Jean Paul Laurens, 1907


Honorary LL.D. from Queen's University, 1943
Order of Canada, 1968

Professional Activities

Apprentice at several Lithography and Photo Engraving companies.
Toured France and Italy painting and sketching, 1907-1912.
Worked and lived with Tom Thomson in The Studio Building, Severn Street, Toronto.
Official artist of the Canadian War memorials Collection, 1917-1919.
Algoma painting trips with Lawren Harris, Frank Johnston and Jock MacDonald 1918-1921.
First Group of Seven exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto, 1920.
Made continuous trips through Quebec, Ontario British Columbia and the Arctic until the age of 83.
First Canadian to be represented in the Tate Gallery, London

Member of

Group of Seven, founding member, 1920.
Royal Canadian Academy
Ontario Society of Artists
Canadian Group of Painters
Royal Society of Artists


National Gallery of Canada
Art Gallery of Ontario
McMichael Collection
Canadian War Memorial Collection
Tate Gallery, London
Art Gallery of Windsor
London Regional Art Gallery
Vancouver Art Gallery
Edmonton Art Gallery
Glenbow Museum
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria