Alec’s Local Colleagues
When Jackson moved to Manotick in 1955, he was one of Canada’s best-known and celebrated artists. He quickly became a prominent figure in the Ottawa arts community. There were several regional artists amongst Jackson’s peers in the city, including long-time friend Maurice Haycock, former student Ralph Burton, and Henri Masson. Haycock and Burton often went on sketching trips with Jackson.
Haycock and Jackson first met aboard an Arctic supply ship in 1927. After earning his PhD in Economic Geology and Mineralogy in 1931, Haycock settled in Ottawa to begin his career with the Department of Mines. The two remained in touch. Haycock took up watercolour painting and drawing with pastels in 1935, but a decade later Jackson convinced him to switch to oil paint.
When Jackson decided to move into the Ottawa region, it was Haycock who helped him arrange to build his home in Manotick. Ottawa-based artist Ralph Burton had been a student of A.Y. Jackson at the Banff School of Fine Arts in the summer of 1947. The two artists became friends and went on several sketching trips together to Alberta, Alaska and the Yukon. Henri Masson was another regional landscape artist working in the Ottawa area at the time Jackson was present, and one who had always been heavily influenced by the Group of Seven’s aesthetic and mandate.
The mid-twentieth century was a time that abstract movements were gaining ground in every major city in Canada including Ottawa. In the 1950s, artists in the city including Duncan de Kergommeaux, Victor Tolgesy, James Boyd and Gerald Trottier were introducing avant-garde techniques into the city’s burgeoning art scene. Ottawa archivist Jim Burant notes that Jackson’s presence in the region helped to maintain landscape as the dominant aesthetic for quite some time; something these younger artists were fighting against.22
22. Jim Burant, « History of Art and Artists of Ottawa and Surroundings, 1790-1970: Part III, 1946-1970 », in History of Art and Artists of Ottawa and Surroundings, 1790-1970: Part III, 1946-1970, Melanie Scott (dir.), Ottawa, Ottawa Art Gallery, 1995, p. 18.