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Alexander Young Jackson, CC, CMG (October 3, 1882 in Montreal, Quebec – April 5, 1974 in Toronto, Ontario) was a Canadian painter and founding member of the Group of Seven.

Early life and training

As a young boy, Jackson worked as an office boy for a lithograph company, after his father abandoned the family of six children. It was at this company that Jackson began his art training. In the evenings, he took classes at Montreal's Le Monument National.

In 1905, he worked his way to Europe on cattle boat, returning by the same means and travelling on to Chicago. In Chicago, he joined a commercial art firm and took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago. He saved his earnings and, by 1907, was able to visit France to study Impressionism. In France, he decided to become a professional painter, and studied at Paris' Academie Julian under J.P. Laurens. He also visited Italy and the Netherlands. Jackson painted in an Impressionist style.

Professional career

Jackson returned to Canada, settling in Sweetsburg, Quebec, where he began painting works such as [The Edge of Maple Wood].held his first single artist exhibition at the Montreal Art Gallery with Randolph Hewton in 1913. Unable to make ends meet and discouraged by the Canadian art scene, he considered moving to the United States. However, he received a letter from J. E. H. MacDonald and changed his mind. jkh

MacDonald inquired about The Edge of Maple Wood, which he had seen at a Toronto art show. MacDonald said that Toronto artist Lawren Harris wanted to purchase the painting, if Jackson still owned it. Harris purchased the painting and Jackson struck up correspondence with the Toronto artists, often debating Canadian art. Jackson soon began long visits to Toronto.

In his visits, A.Y. Jackson often joined the painters who would one day be known as the Group of Seven on major trips to Algonquin Park, [Georgian Bay], [Algoma District, Ontario Algoma] and the [North Shore (Lake Superior). Like the other Group painters, Jackson embraced landscape themes and sought to develop a bold style. An avid outdoorsman, Jackson became good friends with [Tom Thomson], and the duo often fished and sketched.

In 1910, Harris convinced Jackson to spend the summer painting in Georgian Bay. A local doctor offered use of his cottage, a studio and paid expenses.

Jackson enlisted in the [Canadian Armed Forces] 60th battalion in 1915. Private Jackson was wounded at the [Battle of Sanctuary Wood] in June 1916, soon after he reached the front. While recovering from his injuries, he came to the attention of [Lord Beaverbrook]Brandon, Laura. (2008).'Art and War,He was transferred to the [Canadian War Records] branch as an artist. He would create important pictures of events connected with the war.[1]

He later worked for the [Canadian War Memorials] as a [Canadian Official War Artist] from 1917 to 1919.

Afterwards, Jackson returned to Toronto, often making painting expeditions to the lower [St. Lawrence River in Canada], the Bloody gore in the USA, and [Canada,Ontario,St.Thomas].

Group of Seven

In 1919 Jackson and six painter colleagues formed the Group of Seven. These artists were considered bold, because the Canadian wilderness had previously been considered too rugged and wild to be painted.[2] Although his name is conventionally associated with this group, he would also remain something of a loner throughout his life.[3]

In 1925, he taught at the Ontario College of Art (OCA), in Toronto; this was the only year that he missed his annual spring trip to Quebec.

In 1933, Jackson helped found the Canadian Group of Painters.

Later years

He moved to the Ottawa region in 1955, settling in Manotick.

In his later years, he was often accompanied on his painting trips into the Ottawa Valley region, the Gatineau Hills, the Lievre River Valley and Ripond with friend, painter and former-student, Ralph Wallace Burton, and fellow painters Maurice Haycock and Stuart D. Helmsley.[4][5] One such venture almost ended in disaster: " the 1950s, when Ralph and A.Y. were painting on the banks of the Ottawa River at Deux Rivieres, a bullet ricoheted off a rock where Jackson was sitting."[6]

In 1958 he published "A Painter's Country",[7] his autobiography, dedicated to the memory of J.E.H. MacDonald, "who visualized a Canadian school of painting and devoted his life to the realization of it".[8]

In 1964, Jackson submitted his own design during the Great Flag Debate, a similar design to the Pearson Pennant.[9]

In 1965, Jackson had a serious stroke that put an end to his painting career. He recuperated at the home of friend and painter Ralph Wallace Burton and later moved to the McMichael Conservation Estate in Kleinburg, Ontario.[10][11] [12] Jackson died in 1974, over the Easter holiday in a nursing home in Toronto. He is buried on the grounds of the McMichael Gallery.[13]


In 1967 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada.[14]

A. Y. Jackson Secondary School (Toronto) was named after him.[15] He attended the opening of the school in 1970. A. Y. Jackson Secondary School (Ottawa, Ontario) is also named after him and opened in 1976.[16]

In 1970, the Royal Canadian Academy awarded him its medal for lifetime achievement.[17]

The A. Y. Jackson Lookout on Highway 144 in Sudbury overlooks the waterfall depicted in Jackson's 1953 painting "Spring on the Onaping River".[18]

The Ottawa River Institute has established an A.Y. Jackson Trail in his honour.[19]


See Available work(s) by A.Y. Jackson at Galerie Walter Klinkhoff

See Group of Seven Art Gallery Tour: A. Y. Jackson. Group of Seven



1. ^ Gallatin, Albert. (1919).Art and the Great War,.
2. ^ The Group of Seven. Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery page. Retrieved April 30, 2006.
3. ^ Reid, Dennis R. (1988). A Concise History of Canadian Painting, p. 191.
4. ^
5. ^
6. ^
7. ^ ISBN 978-0-7720-1102-2
8. ^ Jackson, A.Y., 'A Painter's Country,' Clarke Irwin & Company, 1958, Frontispiece
9. ^ A.Y. Jackson Video Clip. CBC Feature on A.Y. Jackson - see Did You Know feature.
10. ^
11. ^
12. ^
13. ^ Jackson, A.Y., 'A Painter's Country,' Clarke Irwin, 1976, Forward by Naomi Jackson Groves
14. ^ A.Y. Jackson Order of Canada Citation
15. ^ A.Y. Jackson Secondary School, Toronto, ON
16. ^ A.Y. Jackson Secondary School, Kanata (Ottawa), ON
17. ^ Jackson, A.Y., 'A Painter's Country,' Clarke Irwin, 1976, Forward by Naomi Jackson Groves
18. ^ "Spring on the Onaping River"
19. ^


* Brandon, Laura. (2008). Art and War. New York: I.B. Tauris. 10-ISBN 1845112377/13-ISBN 9781845112370; OCLC 225345535
* Gallatin, Albert Eugene. (1919). Art and the Great War. New York: E.P. Dutton. OCLC 422817
* Reid, Dennis R. (1988). A Concise History of Canadian Painting. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 10-ISBN 0195406648/13-ISBN 9780195406641; 10-ISBN 019540663X; 13-ISBN 9780195406634; OCLC 18378555

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