1964 Yukon Nuggets
A.Y. Jackson in the Yukon
In 1964, I had the pleasure of interviewing the famed Group of Seven artist, A.Y. Jackson. Then in his 70s, he was in the Yukon with his friend and fellow artist Maurice Haycock, making sketches and paintings of the area where he had painted years earlier when the Alaska highway was under construction.
In 1942, the National Gallery of Canada had commissioned Jackson to document the construction. Over a three-week period in October of 1943, he produced numerous pencil and oil sketches of the personnel, equipment, and construction of the highway.
Born in Montreal in 1882, Alexander Young Jackson learned the art of abstract painting and joined the avant garde group of painters from Toronto in 1913. They all had a great sense of adventure and love for the Canadian wilderness. Jackson travelled to the far regions of Canada every summer, including the arctic. In the fall he would return to the Studio Building in Toronto where he spent the winter creating canvases from his sketches. He continued this active lifestyle until he was in his eighties.
During the First World War, Jackson joined the infantry and served as a private in the Canadian Army. Wounded in June 1917, he was transferred to the Canadian War Records branch as an artist and, from 1917 through 1919, worked for the Canadian War Memorials. After the war, he and fellow members of the Group of Seven reformed the Canadian scene with their stunning yet controversial canvases.
During his visit to the Yukon in 1964, when he was well into his 70s, he did pencil sketches around Dawson and Mayo. A simple sketch of Dredge #4, which was then derelict, sitting in the bushes on Bonanza, is worth over 12 thousand dollars. He also produced a number of complete canvases which are priceless.
In 1967, Canada Post celebrated the Alaska Highway's 25th birthday by issuing an 8-cent stamp featuring a painting by A.Y Jackson. And to celebrate Canada Day in 1982,the post office released a miniature sheet of twelve paintings, each one an artist's interpretation of a scene from the ten provinces and two territories. A.Y. Jackson's painting called "The Highway near Kluane Lake," is one of the featured stamps.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.