Alec’s Life After Ottawa

By 1967, O.J. Firestone noted a serious decline in Jackson’s health; the artist was tiring easily and was having dizzy spells. He suffered a stroke in the spring of 1968. After recovering at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, it was evident that he would no longer be able to live on his own.

That year, it was arranged that Jackson, by now aged 86, would leave the Ottawa region to live in the care of his close friends, Robert and Signe McMichael, who lived in Kleinburg, Ontario. Jackson remained there until 1973, when he moved to a nearby nursing home due to his worsening condition. Despite his continuing health struggles, Jackson never lost his stubbornness nor his sense of humour. O.J. Firestone recalls one visit to the hospital when Jackson was trying to push past a nurse in order to get out of bed; the commotion was heard from down the hall.24

Ottawa-based abstract artist Duncan de Kergommeaux, who taught alongside Jackson on occasion, also recalls visiting him in the hospital: “[w]ith a partially paralyzed arm and a shaking hand, he grinned at me and said, ‘Now I’ll be able to paint like you, Duncan!’”25

A.Y. Jackson passed away on Friday, April 5, 1974, at the age of 92. His grave is on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Collection, alongside fellow Group of Seven members Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, and F.H. Varley.

24. O. J. Firestone, The Other A. Y. Jackson, Toronto, The Canadian Publishers, 1979, p. 245-6.

25. Duncan de Kergommeaux, « Memories of Art in Ottawa in the ‘50s and ‘60s », 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. 27.